XCOM Enemy Unknown Preview
When Firaxis put an authentic XCOM reboot on the drawing board back in 2007, it was effectively an HD remake of the origins/ UFO: Enemy Unknown. That may still make it onto the retail disk as a Collector’s Edition extra, but the main game is very much a product of two decades of gaming evolution, from PC to console.
Firaxis has been much braver in its efforts than to simply smooth off the edges, add a few more pixels and throw in an extra spatial dimension. The Civilization franchise developer has gone in and torn out features that will inevitably annoy some hardcore fans in the pursuit of keeping Enemy Unknown balanced and accessible.
Time units, the currency of UFO’s combat and medium through which every decision was made, are gone. The rigid structure of the combat grid and squad deployment has also been removed, replaced with a number of strategic concepts that have become relatively standard since the mid-Nineties: a cover system, soldier class specialisation, secondary mission objectives and a movement/action system that bears some comparison with Valkyria Chronicles. One key feature of XCOM that hasn’t been removed is permadeath, so no matter how much you’ve nurtured and levelled any of your units, if they die there’s no magic reload or resurrection to bring them back.
Firaxis has been a little less ruthless with XCOM‘s Geoscape. Bases have had an aesthetic revamping so that we now get an ‘ant farm’ cut-away perspective, rather than the former aerial view and securing funding from governments will be more transparent. But one thing that isn’t changing here is the XCOM spirit, and we put that down to the fact that several people guiding this project also worked on the original Enemy Unknown.