Review: XCOM on the PS3 could be better.

Just so you know, this entire post is a spoiler.

XCOM [1384]

Well, the ending got me somewhat.

I was waiting to get my Avenger aircraft and go kick some alien butt on the Cydonia base, when a huge mother effing alien flagship (otherwise known as the Temple ship) appeared. That, ladies and gents, was the final stage of the game.

A good thing I’d brought two Hover SHIVs along with four soldiers (none of whom were Heavies). It got tough when I was busting the Sectopods, but I scraped through. The final bit with the Uber Ethereal (not the best name) relied heavily on SHIVs and the Psi Storm, since I had no rockets to hammer those Ethereals with. Kill the Uber Ethereal and that’s it, game over.

What I liked:

  • Intricate dialogue, especially between the various senior XCOM staff. I liked the philosophical doubts raised by the staff too, brings a deeper meaning and potential implication to the alien technology.
  • High quality cutscenes. No explanation needed.
  • Aliens redesigned. Better costumes, less menacing though.
  • Combat mechanics made simpler: removal of TUs, soldier stats, taking away squat, addition of specialist classes which made combat more interesting and yet restricted at the same time. I feel a lot of the game depends on flanking and fire movement though.
  • Snipers: Long range, high crit, double tap, these guys are the shits.
  • Overwatch: Without overwatch, I would’ve been dead several times over. It got kinda slow when I was fighting bigger UFOs like the supply ship though, too much space and too little troop movement.
  • Game mechanics simplified: only one base to take care of.
  • Skill tree for soldiers: Fun abilities for all! I liked Lightning Reflexes the most.
  • Psionics: No need to build Psi devices to use mind control, nice.
  • Gray market: Nice to have another source of income. Sold almost everything I didn’t need on research and manufacturing.

What I did not like:

  • Removal of aircraft designs: where the hell was the Lightning and Avenger?!
  • Gameplay still too short: took me a little over two days to finish the thing, because I had to eat/sleep/the usual.
  • Ending storyline: a chosen psionically talented soldier sacrifices himself/herself to take the alien ship into the stratosphere, where it explodes instead of blackholing the entire Earth into obliteration. What? I much preferred simply blasting the aliens into smithereens on their home base.
  • Random class assignment: rookies were given a random chance to have a class assigned. Can you believe I played an entire game to completion with only one heavy arms guy? Dammit, need my rockets.
  • Removal of combat inventory: I used to disarm aliens the moment I mind controlled them. Now? No longer possible dammit.
  • XCOM base cannot be invaded: So much for defense. Then again, you only have one base. Imagine if you lost the base defense – WOOPS.
  • Lack of replayability. Just like too many other games these days, linear gameplay is a bad thing. Do X, do Y, do Z, game completed.
  • Combat arms reload: Adding reload for every armament took away the benefit laser arms had last time – infinite ammo. While making things simpler, this made the plasma arms a nobrainer. I used to keep laser rifles because I was a scrooge on ammo. It added realism into the game, and made you think harder about shooting. With infinite reloads? Fire first, think later.
  • Alien activity not enough: I liked it in the original, when we would see a frenzy of activity and I’d be able to launch multiple interceptor aircraft to splash them. UFOs heading to their bases, with species going on individual missions, it felt like they had a purpose with a real plan at hand.

With all this being said, I’m still looking forward to a sequel. Hopefully it’s not a TFTD remake, and it’ll make the game system more interesting than this first episode.

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