EvilJekyll wrote:How did it compare to the original Xcom? I really really enjoyed the orignal Xcom (while being kind of terrified of it at the same time because I was young), but the trial on the 360 made me a little hesitant to commit to it.
It's not really terribly similar. The strategic game is just a bit thin and overly directed, and the tactical game is only superficially similar. The change to a two-actions system rather than time units is a lot better in my opinion, but changes to the way aliens behave are a little off (groups of aliens are scattered around the map, and each group doesn't act until triggered). There's more emphasis on squad-building, which is nice, but the squad size and upgrades are geared towards zero turnover, using just a tiny core of maxed-out heroes and not recruiting anyone else (the soldier limit is 99, but since you only ever use a single squad of six I can't imagine why they set it that high; you'll probably use 12-15 soldiers, and only eight or nine will see more than a little bit of action). It's especially bad once you buy up some of the squad upgrades; there's one which halves the time injured soldiers are out of action (so usually any wounds on your first team are healed up before the next mission), and one which increases the odds that a highly-ranked soldier will be critically injured rather than killed (so they never need replacing, and rookies are even more fragile by comparison). It doesn't take long to level up the main squad, and after that it's pretty static.
I would have greatly preferred a mix of the two, with a high turnover and a few notable heroes coming out of the meatgrinder. The originals didn't really do much to make a colonel different to a rookie, and the new one doesn't have a place for rookies at all.
The choice between armour and extra items for each soldier is good, though. There's a tradeoff between extra protection and special abilities like flight or invisibility. Most classes just want the thickest armour they can find, but sometimes a specialist can benefit from the alternatives. And choosing whether a soldier takes, say, a grenade, a stun gun or a protective vest is tricky all the time, right to the end. It's a shame that wasn't extended to weapons; there's a shotgun, a better shotgun and a better-than-that shotgun. I read in an interview that the team played a bit of Necromunda (a personal favourite game of mine) early on in development, and it's a shame they didn't take more ideas from that game, especially in terms of weapon selection but also for character advancement.
So: It's a good game, but everything is so tightly controlled that there's no real opportunity for emergent gameplay. Since emergent gameplay was the original games' bread and butter, the similarity is only skin deep. It's worth buying, but the play experience is more like a JRPG: There's a game there, but it takes place en route between predetermined storyline events. Unfortunately, rather than an epic Final Fantasy-style quest, the story is basically a sequence of research and construction triggers, ending with the research and construction of the device which allows you to defeat the aliens. So I guess it's a good battle system tacked onto an atrocious JRPG. Still worth a punt, though. This might come across as a pretty bad review, but I finished the game and I don't usually do that.