XCOM: Enemy Unknown Reviews

XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

They don't come in peace.

Buy XCOM, it's a belter. I know it's Big Game season, but this is so good I've chalked up 43 hours in four days and want more in the near future. XCOM absorbs you into a universe of Tonka toy soldiers and B-movie science-fiction, a rich and smartly streamlined strategy experience that's a hell of a credit to the design of the 1994 original. Re-imagining? Remake? Whatever it is, XCOM brings back and revitalises a classic.

You play as the Commander of the eponymous task force set up to defend Earth from a new extraterrestrial threat, responsible for both the organisation's overall management and directing the ground battles. This combination of genres is unusual even 18 years later, but works because of the multiple ways the two worlds intersect - the most obvious and irresistible through-line being how the XCOM troops evolve over time, from standard-issue grunts to plasma-wielding psychic warriors in cloaking suits, depending on how research and manufacturing are juggled.

The base management owes much to the original X-Com, but also to Kojima Productions' masterful Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and its Mother Base. The surface sheen is a gorgeous, zoomable 3D map of the facilities you've built, which whooshes into and out of rooms as you burrow into the nested menus - studying recovered alien technology, expanding XCOM's global coverage and training up an army. There are always new things to fiddle with and read and choices to be made.

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