Published on February 29th, 2016 | by Gary Mullen0
Review: XCOM 2
Turned based XCOM returns for another instalment. 20 years may have passed since XCOM Enemy Within but once again those pesky aliens are trying to take over our planet. To stop this from happening you take on the role of the commander. You are personally responsible for building up your base and controlling your troops in the warzone as Earth’s final line of defence.
The story of the game passes along at a fairly quick pace, you never really feel you care about the NPC that are in the base who are basically a means to an end for making your base better and researching new technology. Asides from the base you do get insights into the enemies and how they compare with each other with regards to their abilities when you first encounter them. This allows you to play out your plan using their weakness against them (such as knowing which order is best to take them out on and not always who the closest is). The biggest moan, from a storyline point of view, is the amount of data that is thrown at you between missions, if you include some of the optional reading of enemies is can be quite bulky at times.
Graphically the game uses a cell shaded effect for its colouring method with a top down 3D look for controlling the battlefield. This allows for a great depth of field in moving your troops around in each of your turns and understanding why objects work as great cover points for dodging the bullets. When a shot is fired, the game spins into a first person viewpoint as you watch the bullet either fly towards the enemy or your troops. I did really enjoy how the game looked as turned based games are always a tricky situation where you need the turn based view to manage the tactics while still looking up to date next to other games on the market. By switching to the first person view XCOM gives you the best of both worlds and helps you to better understand what your are doing tactically.
The good things with this title avoiding any console release and just launching on the PC market meant this game did not need to steer towards the “controller methodology” and to stay true to the roots of the genre. The game is clearly built for using the mouse/keyboard and utilises the peripherals to their full extent. I found it annoying that my scroll button did not allow me to zoom in and out of the map as expected but to jump from ground floor to next floor. I understand why this happens but I would have liked a button on my mouse that allowed me to zoom out to further my plans of attack.
The main aspect of the controls revolves around using a point and click method with the mouse. You have a set area where you can move. Each player has a blue zone and yellow zone where they can move on each turn. If you move to the yellow zone then there no further moves for that character; however if you go to the blue zone they can either shoot or be placed into watch mode where they will auto shoot on sight of the enemy. The mouse controls for a while did annoy me as I expected when I clicked on a player and then clicked where I wanted to move them to, it would have been left clicking but instead it was set up for right clicking. The keyboard plays more of a secondary role, allowing things like rotating the screen to one of four angles of the battlefield or simply pressing enter to confirm the shot (you can do most of this using just the mouse also). I felt the benefit of using a mouse for this type of game over a controller is in the past. I found it annoying to pick the person I wanted to fire my shot at, instead it could sometimes jump to the enemy I wanted where as with a mouse I can simply click on them.
Beyond the single player it comes packed with a multi-player mode where you can battle it out with other players. You have a set budget to spend on troops and each troop has different values in cost. You can save the squads that you have designed to use in other battles and have several pre saved teams allowing you to select a suitable squad depending who you are going up against. I must say personally I enjoyed the single-player mode more than the multi-player mode however that’s more down to personal preference then a fault with the game.
The thing with the XCOM games is that you know before you start that you cannot play the full game without losing at least one of your troops. It may have been several missions for me before it happened (ignoring the forced killings during the first mission) but my luck ran out and I did lose one of them. This is one of the great challenge with this game as you work so hard to level up your troops for them to be lost in battle suddenly. It truly is a real reflection of what could happen in any armed force situation in real life, ok the alien invasion part is maybe not happening the now but you never know what the future holds!
On a side note I stuck this game on using a fairly old graphics card (GTX 550) and the game runs without too many slow downs. So thankfully the game does not need the latest set of hardware to run and enjoy. The only thing I did notice was older graphic cards (GTX 295) which can sometime pack a bigger punch, would not launch this game. Instead it loaded with just a white screen so ensure you check the current list of supported graphics cards on the official website.
This review is in memory of the first troop member that I lost in the war to save earth from the aliens, Ana Ramirez.
Summary: XCOM 2 continues where the franchise left off and is a must play for any fans of the series.