This is a screenshot of the video game XCOM: Enemy Unknown, featuring a soldier taking cover behind an alien computer and taking aim at an enemy sectoid alien, which is behind a wall.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown Review

Genre | Turn Based Strategy
Developer | Firaxis Games
Platforms | PC, PlayStation 3, XBOX 360, OSX, iOS
Website | http://www.xcom.com/

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a turn-based strategy game in which the player commands the eponymous XCOM. XCOM receives money from the world’s governments each month. The player uses this money to launch satellites, repel an alien invasion, manufacture weapons, dig holes in the ground, and undertake other actions in an attempt to keep the world’s governments from cutting off the funding.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is divided into two modes. In one mode, the player builds and operates an underground base. This base can be used to research fifty eight different technologies; construct nine different items, six different aircraft weapons, three different aircraft modules, seventeen different soldier weapons, and six different armor suits; launch interception missions to shoot down alien craft; launch satellites over sixteen nations; and torture captured aliens. In the tactical mode, the player controls up to six XCOM soldiers from four classes in a turn-based fight against enemies in missions with random enemy and objective placement, pre-designed levels, and random names, like “Hot Paramour,” “Unceasing Stroke,” and “Purple Rain.” These missions feature seventeen kinds of enemies and eleven kinds of objectives. There are four difficulty levels.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown allows the player to position their soldiers in predetermined cover locations. These cover locations reduce the accuracy of enemies who are firing at the soldier from the other side of the cover. Flanking enemies in cover by moving around the side of the cover increases the accuracy of the player’s soldiers. Soldiers can movie twice in a turn or move once and shoot once. They can also use various abilities based on their class or use an item rather than shooting. Soldiers earn experience by participating in missions and killing enemies and can level up to unlock abilities.

The graphics in XCOM: Enemy Unknown are in a realistic style, with the exception of weapons, which alter in size based on the gender of the soldier wielding the weapon, and the laser blasts, which are visible as red beams rather than invisible. The sounds in XCOM: Enemy Unknown include footsteps as soldiers run, voice clips that play when various XCOM support personnel discuss things between missions, and screams of aliens when they die. The music in XCOM: Enemy Unknown is in atmospheric, electronic, and orchestral styles.

The various nations in XCOM: Enemy Unknown each have panic levels. When a nation’s panic level grows high enough, it withdraws its funding. Panic can be reduced by launching satellites over a country. Creating satellites costs money and manufacturing time and precludes the player from manufacturing other items. Fog of war covers the tactical battlefield and is revealed as the player moves through it. Encountering a group of aliens in the fog of war grants the aliens a free opportunity to move during the player’s turn and causes the enemies to engage the player’s squad. Moving larger distances during their turn can cause the player to be forced to engage more aliens than they would have to engage if they had moved a shorter distance that turn.

This is a score for an objective game review. The score is an 8.5 out of 10.