When The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
was officially announced in 2010 as a FPS, it was not well received by fans of UFO: Enemy Unknown (PC, 1994) and X-COM: Terror From The Deep (PC, 1995), both of which were created by Julian Gollop and published by MicroProse. The release of The Bureau was delayed several times from it's original 2011 release date to August 2013, and went from a FPS to a TPS. During that time 2K Games released XCOM: Enemy Unknown
which was a remake of the 1994 game, and what many fans of the series really wanted.GameplayThe Bureau: XCOM Declassified
is a cross of Prey (2006)
, Mass Effect
and BioShock 2
. It obviously shares the same background as the X-COM and XCOM games. You get to meet Sectoids and Mutons up close and personal. You operate from a base, that has Laboratories and Engineering sections. However that is where the similarities end as this is not a TBS, so if that is all you are interested in you can skip this game, and the rest of the review.
The story-line is based on alien invasion and abductions, and the horror of experiencing this first hand, hence my comparison to Prey (2006)
. As well as being a TPS, you have two squad members with you on every mission. Whilst you can just leave them to it, you will make them much more efficient by bringing up a command wheel that slows game time and issuing them orders. There are four different squad member classes, each with a different focus on combat and support. They can also revive you if you are downed and they get to you before you bleed out, which can save restarting from the checkpoint. Between missions there is time to explore and have conversations. Your dialogue choices will make subtle differences to the story-line. Those who have played Mass Effect
will be familiar with this. The early 1960's alternative universe, and visual elements in the game have a lot in common with BioShock 2
, which should come as no surprise since it is also from 2K Marin.Graphics and Audio
I like their imagining of a 1960s United States under alien invasion. The human models are detailed and lifelike, and there is a varied range of alien types. The levels are detailed, with good depth and clarity. Watery areas are done well, but you come to expect that from the BioShock people. I didn't experience any area transitioning delays, although I do play my games from the hard-drive. The character voices overs are good, as is the atmospheric background music.Achievements
It is possible to get all the achievements in a single play-through if you are prepared to start on Commander difficulty. If you have a thorough play style, you will pick up all the achievements naturally. But if you prefer sticking to just the main story-line, you will need to pay attention to the achievement descriptions, or you may not meet their requirements. The game has a level select, so if there are any achievements you do not get by the end of the game, at least you don't need to start the game again from the very beginning, only from the point where you first missed the requirements of that achievement. There are audio logs and collectables during the missions and between missions but there are no achievement tied to these.Summary
After seven play-throughs of XCOM: Enemy Unknown
and XCOM: Enemy Within
combined, I didn't really need more of the same from this "prequel". I thoroughly enjoyed the original X-COM games and the BioShock games, so I was certainly interested enough in the premise of this game to pick it up. If you are prepared to spend the time on all the optional side conversations and collectables that give background information, you will become more engaged with the characters and the fate of humankind. I think if I had played this straight after Mass Effect 3 or BioShock Infinite I perhaps would have given it a lower score, however it is the only game of that style that I have played this year.
It is now $20 on the Xbox Marketplace, although you can pick up a new copy for half that fairly easily. If it was a game you overlooked at the time of it's release, it is worth considering at that price. I certainly felt enough love for it that I took the time to write this review.