Додано: 22 січня
A fairly excellent tactics game.
Xcom is a game split into two modes; the tactical, turn-based shooter that is the banner of the series, and the much less discussed ant-farm base simulation. The two halves play off each other very well. The combat feels high-stakes and is almost always stressful, whereas the base management is much slower and relaxed. Combat can become tedious after the 100th encounter, but there are so many layers to improving your troops, even when the explicit tedium sets in, the combat increases in difficulty, an increase you can only match with intelligent R&D from within your base. The power creep leads to massive personal rewards for anyone who manages well.
This leads to one of the notable 'issues' with Xcom. I'm hesitant to label it that, because some may feel it's a strength, but Xcom is very hesitant to hold your hand at all. That's typically fine, as the game tends to heavily incentivize R&D. One-shotting brutes with a plasma rifie is it's own reward, and the new armors look cool, and drastically increase soldiers health bars significantly.
But this isn't always the case. There's a seemingly minor portion of the game that involves protecting satellites from enemy UFOs, and shooting said UFOs down to collect salvage. It's pretty non-player particapatory; it has about the same level of player interactivity as those 'Mafia Wars' facebook games, and the art doesn't do it any favors, being just monochromatic renders of the aircraft. Upgrades for this mode don't seem to affect much initially, and the lack of rewards seems to cause players to say '♥♥♥♥ it' pretty early.
The problem is that upgrading the Anti-Air capability of the base is incredibly important, more so even that upgrading your troops, because with smart gameplay, even basic troops can complete missions. It feels so obligatory, and is a big chunk of anti-fun in an otherwise awesome tactics/base sim. This could have been avoided by just allowing some agency in the dogfights, or just cloning FTL's combat. Massive wasted oppurtunity.
Some other (very nitpicky) issues are present. Avoiding losing the game is a long-view stragety. There are a dozen or so member nations to the XCOM project, all with their independant stability statuses. If they become unstable, they leave the project, and you cease to get their funding. There is no way to get them back, and no 'Sudden Death' mission if one is about to leave. If eight leave, you lose the game, and presumably all your progress. The problem is, there's no real way to target a destablizing region for intervention; the areas you can intervene in come up at random frequency, and in random nations. You could (as had happened in my first playthrough) never be able to set foot in a country over a period of a months as it destabilizes completely, twiddling your thumbs as it declines into anarchy, hoping it will come up on the random encounter screen.
The remedy to this? Building a satellite, and launching it over the country, of course. Which is also an answer to increasing your income. The game breezes through this in the tutorial, but in my haste to get to gameplay that was more engaging, I failed to absorb that satellites are the most important component of this game, and should be produced until every country has a satellite companion.
There are some other unexplained mechanics, or ambiguous constraints. Cover is based off a quad-directional grid. If you are on the opposite side of heavy cover as an enemy, you are in heavy cover. Makes sense. Where things get weird is, what if you are in cover at a 45º angle away from an enemy? The cover indicator reads 'heavy cover', but my units seemed to take exposed damage. Could have been bad dicerolls, or I could have misunderstood the system. The fact that it's unclear is my issue.
The same situation creeps up in firing lines. Several times, I'd move a soldier to a location for a clear shot, and be unable to fire. As far as I could tell from my isometric camera, I had a clear line-of-sight to the enemy, but that could just be an artifact of the view angle. This game could really benefit from a perspective cam, to suss out where enemies are visible from, before the player moves a unit there. I know it has the tech to do this, as it frequently will go into a slow-motion perspective camera when I'm murdering aliens.
This review has sort of spiraled into critiquing very minor flaws with the game, but it's for a good reason, XCOM is excellent. It plays well, is addicting, has very deep mechanics, a sense of discovery as players research more and more advanced technology, it looks really nice, and has fairly unique art (Gears of War mixed with TF2), has good pacing, has an actual story mode sprinkled throughout randomized, dynamic encounters, rewards intelligent, defensive gameplay, allows both hardcore permadeath, and shameless save-scumming.
Probably the best minor feature is the ability to name and customize troops. It's incredible, the difference in playstyle when the soldiers all represent your loved ones.
Great game is excellent, does tactical homage well, and is very unique, with a wide berth of gameplay types and styles.