A year ago I stumbled into a rather large booth that had a mock up of a 1950's secret base that was set up to fight off invading aliens. The game that this very expensive booth was built for was XCOM and it was an FPS game that has since vanished. It's as if it never even existed.
Fast forward to present day and I once again stumble my way into a booth dedicated to an XCOM
game, only this time it looks and plays somewhat similar to the original XCOM
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
is a modern take on a game that was known as UFO: Enemy Unknown
as it was originally known as in the UK back in 1994 on the PC and Amiga. Developed by Julian and Nick Gollop the game has long since been regarded as a seminal classic.
2K Games acquired the rights to the game after it bought the now defunct publisher Microprose. Now 2K has employed Firaxis, the makers of the Civilization IV
to re-imagine the original game.
For the uninitiated, XCOM
games are turn-based strategy titles that have the player controlling squads of super soldiers against marauding aliens. Each squad member can be levelled up to the point where they become almost unstoppable as they take on the alien threat. This was a key point of attraction for games as players become invested in the squad members they ordered about.
The demonstration that was shown at E3 2012 was set up to show off the later stages of the game, which have yet to be seen by the public. There are some aliens (the Chryssalid and the Greys) within it that are drawn directly from the original game. The Chryssalids are beings that can infect other lifeforms and turn them into more Chryssalids. This was a bit of a nightmare in the original game. If there were any civilians around, they'd tend to get pounced on and turned into these foul critters.
The Greys were even more problematic as they have the ability to control the minds of other beings. They tended to launch 'Psionic' attacks on squad members stopping them in their tracks and in some cases causing them to commit suicide.
Both of these abilities were shown during the demonstration as a rookie human squad was obliterated by a combination of a Grey commander and Chryssalids. To counter this threat, a new, and higher level, team was brought in. All of the squad members were armed to the teeth and even had the ability to fly while taking potshots at the offending aliens.
One of them could also inflict Psionic attacks in a similar fashion to the Greys. This was definitely a case of payback. The aliens didn't put up much of a fight and were dispatched with aplomb.
Visually the game is very much a homage to the original; it has a cartoon like quality to it. The developers have also exploited the fact that when executing an action, a more interesting camera view can be shown as the action unfolds each turn. It's a nice touch and one the original could not hope to replicate.
From this demo and the footage that has so far been revealed about the game, hopes remain high that it will be both respectful of the original game as well as been entertaining in its own right. Time will of course tell when it appears on 12th October this year.