While 2K Marin are transforming XCOM into a tactical FPS, Firaxis have gone back to the series' isometric strategy roots with Enemy Unknown. Here are ten reasons why it's the comeback we've been dreaming of since 1994.
1. PERSONAL TOUCH
Firaxis wants to make you genuinely care about your XCOM squad members should they be on the receiving end of a fatal cyber disc grenade. To that end, the game packs customisable options for their appearances and names. More significantly though, when squadies do kick the space bucket they are permanently wiped from your roster. Producer Garth DeAngelis regaled us with a tale of when he named a soldier after his dear old mum with emotional, if hilarious, consequences. A bagpipe-infused memorial wall is located in HQ for necking scotch and remembering the fallen.
2. ALIENS VS. HUMANS
Docking into XCOM's multiplayer gave us ample opportunity to check out the human and alien classes. For the home team (humans), expect to field assault, heavy and support classes, as well as snipers. The invading aliens come in a startling number of forms, each a riot to experiment with. Creepy, suit-wearing Thin Men leap large distances spraying poison clouds, while sneaky Sectoids subdue biological foes with mind attacks.
3. ALIEN TECHNOLOGY
The artistic design of XCOM takes forms we're familiar with and subverts them to imply evolution in real time. You might start out with a high tech fighter jet, but after you assign your science bods to splice aliens and your engineers to adapt UFO tech to upgrade your ships they'll start to appear much more unique.
4. CONSOLE WARS
A strategy game on consoles?! Turn-based multiplayer?! An isometric camera zoomed out from the action?! At first glance XCOM:EU seems like it would be at home solely on PC rather than spreading its deep breed of interstellar war fighting across 360 and PS3 formats. Don't count your Chrysalides before they've exploded into zombie plague-spreading hatchlings, however.
Firstly, the user interface has been built from the ground-up for both controller and keyboard/mouse users. Also, both versions of the game will be near identical in strategic depth. The console version we played enabled close micro-management, compared to the streamlined build of, say, Civilisation Revolution. The battles suit more action hungry console gamers too, with an extra dose of physicality.
5. BUILD A BASE
The flow of play in XCOM:EU essentially takes you through two different games. There's the combat-focused missions themselves between which you'll spend hours fiddling about in HQ. Firaxis dub the main base the 'Anthill' and it's easy to see why. Your side-on view of the underground HQ will slowly grow over time as you map out required functions.