Welcome back to the third installment of my look at strategy games. This week we are taking a look at a personal favorite of mine, a game that I’ve meant to write about for a while now. The game in question is XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
I first came in contact with the XCOM series a few years back when I discovered UFO: Enemy Unknown (1994), the first game in the XCOM series. I bought it on Steam and for a few weeks during Christmas break I tried my best to play through it (it is ridiculously hard and it lacked an intuitive interface, because of which I never got very far at all). Around the same time XCOM: Enemy Unknown a remake of the original game was released with improved graphics and simplified gameplay. I picked it up a little while later along with Civilization IV and V as part of a bundle on Amazon. I instantly fell in love.
XCOM is a turn-based strategy game where you play as a group of soldiers sent out on dangerous missions to stop invading aliens. You control a squadron of customizable soldiers who you can name, customize, and give different power-ups. The game switches between two different setups of gameplay. In the first you control your squadron as you hunt down and kill aliens, in the second you manage your base buying facilities and choosing what to research/build. Through proper coordination of your efforts you can build up a nearly unstoppable team of juggernauts who remain miles in front of the encroaching alien menace. If you are not lucky you will find that your soldiers almost consistently die on you, making the game nearly impossible to win.
The game is made to be addicting, especially when you start building up your forces. As you progress you will start to feel a bond with all of the members of your squad and you will be devastated whenever one of them dies from a stray shot from an enemy’s weapon (it doesn’t help that the game gives them all nicknames).
The game features a pretty good variety of different levels and enemies and a great story mode. In my opinion the way to play XCOM is on “Ironman” mode which makes it so you cannot reload past save files meaning that once one of your squadron die, they are dead for good. This is closer to the way the original game played and lends itself to a deeper and more strategic way of playing.
There are three sets of DLC for XCOM: The Slingshot Pack, The Elite Soldier Pack, and Enemy Within. The Elite Soldier Pack is a purely cosmetic DLC that gives you new options for customizing your soldiers. The Slingshot Pack adds a few new story missions to the game that add a little bit of variety, though not that much. Enemy Within is the big set of DLC for XCOM and it adds all around additions to the original game. Enemy Within adds more and more of what makes XCOM a great game. It adds new weapons and technologies, new maps, new resources, and small additions to the gameplay in general.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is available for $29.99, The Elite Soldier Pack is available for $4.99, The Slingshot Pack is available for $6.99, XCOM: Enemy Within is available for $29.99, and the original UFO: Enemy Unknown is available for $4.99.