Thursday, 2 June 2016

Xcom: Enemy Unknown Review.



Back when it came out for PC, Mac, 360 and PS3 I totally missed Xcom: Enemy Unknown. Recently however I've been craving some on the go strategy gaming so I'd been looking up the top rated iPhone/iPad strategy games and Xcom came up. I vaguely remembered hearing about it being ported to IOS but was skeptical as to how well it would work out. 

Now I'll admit, for the first few minutes I still had my doubts. The story is very cliché sci-fi and the gameplay quite standard but when the impact of perma-death and the in between mission meta-game opened up I got it. You see Xcom is two games fused expertly together. You control a squad of up to four men, taking out aliens, you level them up and spend money and time giving them good gear and skills. Then your best man dies and doesn't respawn and you realise just how much difference perma-death makes. Hours of work can be washed away and, if you play Iron Man mode which auto saves after every turn, you can't reload the game and get your guy back. Ouch balls. 

Then in between missions you can edit your squad, research upgrades and equipment, launch satellites from the various countries belonging to Xcom and choose which mission to take. Now the interesting part is if you don't do enough with a certain country then they might leave Xcom, taking all their money and resources with them. So you have to try and balance all of the nations, choosing who to please and when. Of course you can't please everybody so some people are going to leave and you're going to have to deal with the consequences. 

The two elements blend together seamlessly and create an experience that is endlessly enjoyable and endlessly replayable. Normally now I'd say how the controls let it down but Xcom uses an intuitive mix of on screen buttons and touch gestures fantastically. It's easy to pick up and almost impossible to get frustrated with. There were a couple of times where moving into buildings was a bit fiddly but that was more due to a stuck camera than poor controls. 

The only place where any real compromise has been made to make this inferior to its console brethren is in the graphics department; it looks more PS2 than PS3 and is clearly a downgrade. Thing is, who cares? It looks good and you can see what's going on well enough to enjoy the gameplay so it's all fine as far as I'm concerned. 

Xcom is a no-brainer, a console quality game for your phone that lives up to its name. This is the best strategy game on IOS and if you're looking for strategy then look no further. 



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