Published on October 8th, 2016 | by Daniel Coomans
XCOM 2 XBOX ONE REVIEW
Summary: An addictively fun game for the RTS fan who doesn’t mind a tough challenge even on the lowest of settings
XCOM vs XBOX!
The year is 2035, twenty years after the events of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and the Aliens now have almost complete control of Earth. XCOM, the then primary defense force has now been reduced to a mere resistance force. With diminished strength they must carry out guerilla style missions to chip away at the overwhelming fighting prowess of the Alien occupation, now made even more difficult through the mixing of genes and the even greater variation of enemy unit types.
The story directly follows that of the previous title and you the player once again control the commander from the original after being rescued from stasis in an Advent facility that was using your tactical experience to train their brainwashed genetically enhanced humanoid army for better effectiveness. The only immediate differences being certain characters are either dead or missing and as a result some of the crew is now replaced with new additions. Your home base is a remodeled alien ship and you use it to traverse the world and engage in various missions in the world; from guerilla strikes, VIP rescues, assassinations, Intel gatherings to establishing contact with new resistance groups that crop up as you complete other missions.
It plays like your standard troop based real time strategy games, keep “stealthed” as long as you can to reach your mission objectives, set up traps against your enemies, strike and complete your objective as quickly and with minimal injuries or lost soldiers as possible. Then you need to upgrade your soldiers abilities, weapons, armor, equipment through the use of research, at the cost of supplies and unique materials collected from missions, get back out there and launch yet more missions.
The game’s mechanics are easy enough to grasp for a first time player like myself. You start with a certain squad size which is upgradable through the home base at later stages in the game and control them one at a time, each character gets two action points in a single turn and each action generally costs one point unless specified. Attacking ends that characters turn regardless of remaining action points and some unique abilities do not cost an action or have a chance to grant a bonus action point. Furthermore each character starts out as a Rookie but after a first kill will generally be promoted into a random class of the following: Sharpshooter, Ranger, Grenadier or Special Ops. Later on in the game, you have the option to train recruits into a Psionic class which becomes available and at another stage after acquiring a mech for the first time you can then mass produce them for a cost.
The game’s objectives are straightforward too, neutralize all targets, acquire intel, secure VIPs, the usual RTS stuff, your performance is graded on a number of factors; turns taken, soldiers wounded, soldiers killed, enemies taken down and so on. The game’s AI however, feels a little broken, it’s difficult for your team to connect shots that otherwise would have been easy and the enemy can seemingly hit your team from the most outrageous of angles or through walls. They also get to take cover upon discovering your team or after you engage a single enemy, even in the middle of your turn.
Most of the objectives have a certain turn limit before you fail them and the overarching objective having its own time limit in the sense that certain events trigger progress and others regress their progress is a rather difficult task to manage, supplies are scarce and units take too long to heal from some of the lightest injuries. I’m what many RTS fans would call a turtle, I take a long time to prepare the perfect strategy, research all the best tech to make sure I’m doubly ready for each challenge, putting a time constraint as such limits my ability to play the game my way and subtracts a little from overall enjoyment.
The musical score isn’t too crash hot which is your generic RTS music. It doesn’t stand out from other soundtracks but it does its job just fine. The sound effects though win a few points back as practically everything has its own unique sound effect, from the different weapon types, to the upgraded weapon types, grenades, support weapons, droids, mechs, explosions. Each characters dialogue works well and the enemies unique language that sounds like a mix of the alien speak and standard English, they all sound great, I think the only sound I disliked was the sound of my current character confirming a missed shot. There were no standout characters however and what little dialogue was exchanged seemed almost strained as they felt a need to explain a reason we’re attacking a particular target other than to save the world.
Video quality is great too, it’s not my particular art style and a little more rounded, soft edged and bold colored for my liking but I can appreciate that many will enjoy the graphical style shown here. It almost presents itself as cartoony or arcade-like in the art style and it similarly reminds me of Overwatch which I know many will be pleased about that as it’s highly regarded. The animation is smooth during gameplay and it’s very satisfying to watch your characters go about their actions in this manner, the camera controls however are a little tricky to control on a console as it’s set up using the directional buttons and it’s very easy to forget the orientation and which button turns which direction as it changes each mission, but for the most part everything works fine.
In conclusion the game is probably not for rookies that haven’t played the first installment because you need to be somewhat familiar with the controls and the challenging demeanor the game throws at its unlikely victims. I can no longer count the number of times, perfectionist as I am, have reloaded saves from previous turns just to correct the simplest mistake that lead to a squadmate dying, an optional boss escaping, a squadmate returning with injuries that take too long to heal or botching the mission as a whole and losing valuable intel that can help postpone the completion of the game’s main objective. Nonetheless, it’s still an addictive play on the Xbox One with overall good gameplay that is well presented and for it’s price, it’s excellent value. So if you like a challenge or can grow to like one, XCOM2 should be your first choice.
Primary Format – Games – Xbox One
Game Genre – Strategy
Rating – MA15+
Game Developer – Firaxis Games
Game Publisher – 2K Games