XCOM 2 – Review
Follow Genre: Strategy
Developer: Firaxis
Publisher: 2K
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

XCOM 2 – Review

Site Score
8.7
Good: Story, Presentation, True XCOM feeling
Bad: bugs, hit percentages, line of sight is odd, rushed missions
User Score
9.8
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)

It has been roughly four years since the XCOM franchise was brought back to life thanks to a remake of the original game that was released in 1994. While the remade XCOM: Enemy Unknown still had a lot less options than the original title, it did a great job in bombarding the XCOM franchise into the 21st century, with updated gameplay and graphics, while keeping the feeling of the invasion story intact. Now we are treated to the direct sequel of the remake that presents us with an even more grim scenario, as over the course of twenty years, the invaders have made Earth their home and are slowly assimilating our species into becoming devote worshippers of the alien presence. You might have won a battle four years ago, but today you’ll have to win the war if you wish to keep the human race intact.

XCOM 2

Story

Twenty years have passed since the invasion of the alien forces on our planet and while you were successful at vanquishing your foes, it seems it has done little in the course of the entire war. In twenty years time the invaders rooted themselves on Earth, overthrowing governments and proclaiming themselves to be the new rulers of the planet, under the guise of peace.

While everything seems calm at the surface, it’s clear that the human race is being oppressed and that the aliens are still performing experiments and would rather see us assimilated into their own collective race. That being said, you’ve been in stasis for the better of those twenty years, and it seems that the aliens used your tactical abilities to spoon feed their troops, granting them better insight in the battles that caused them to conquer earth.

Overall the story is brought by short cutscenes in-between missions, all with in-game graphics. This makes the transitions between mission, managing your base and the cinematics rather smooth. Even though the plot follows a rather typical concept, it proves to be quite enjoyable nonetheless.

Graphics

While the game might not have a groundbreaking graphical quality, it does look very good. You’ll be treated to an endless horde of different soldiers you can command, be it those who appear randomly at the doorstep of your base, or ones you have customized yourself, forming them into your own herd of superior beings. The fact that there are this many options for your own soldiers makes the game immediately stacked with diversity and variation from the beginning of your adventure until you or the earth decides to call it quits. Whilst the alien invaders might lack the same amount of variation, there are still sufficient enemy types to go around and keep things interesting.

XCOM 2 - 1

The environments in XCOM 2 are rather lush, at least when it comes to the overall crowdedness thanks to clutter, buildings, debris and the occasional citizen that gets caught in the crossfire. Even though the world seems to have been modernized quite a bit compared to our real world, there is still enough variety to spice things up. You’ll often find yourself switching different locations where you’ll be fighting in forests and small settlements while other times you’ll find yourself blowing up buildings in the middle of a grand city.

Like its predecessor the game comes with a few bugs though. You’ll often see enemies sticking partly through walls, or other items sticking through your very own soldiers. For some reason the game also has issues processing certain actions, making either the frames drop or actually causing crashes from time to time. If this is purely due to the graphical prowess of the game or just random bugs is not sure.

Sound

Overall the soundtrack will get you in the mood to defend the planet from the invaders, who have already claimed Earth as their own. You’ll be treated to tracks that would suit any military movie, as the songs truly enforce the feeling of the dire situation at hand. While the loadout screen might be of fairly epic proportions, it’s quite sad that there aren’t any more tracks or that the available one loops as fast as it does.

XCOM 2 - 2

Voice acting is a big part of the game, as there are many ‘key characters’ inside your base who will tell you what is going on, as well as inform you about research, building projects or just give you random, but helpful tips. The quality of the voices themselves is superb and this installment also offers tons of different soldier voices, in a set of different languages, outside of the different English (American, Australian) accents. It’s quite amusing to compose a team of international soldiers, who are able to reply in Italian, German, Spanish and so on.

Gameplay

XCOM 2 follows the same strategy and management principles of the remake, and to a certain extent those of the original games that appeared more than ten years ago. This means you’ll mainly occupy yourself with fighting off the alien scourge, team management, research and making sure your base will truly become the heart of the resistance. Of course, to truly become the mastermind that saved the world twenty years ago again, you’ll need supplies, troops, researchers, engineers, technology and valuable intel.

Just like its predecessor(s) the game is divided into different sections, which are almost equally distributed. In the beginning the management portion might not be the meatiest of the game, but you’ll still know what to do. In your central base, you’ll be able to excavate further, in order to build new facilities, which you’ll need if you actually want to make some progress, create new gear and simply make sure the aliens will have a hard time defeating the human race. In the beginning your options are limited, but you’ll soon find yourself diving into different research projects after another, in order to actually start unlocking new facilities and items. To aid you in your quest for research, you’ll need to bring back alien items from missions, in order to unlock new tech. Of course, everything costs resources and you’ll find yourself quite short of them most of the time. These resources can again be acquired by completing missions or scanning the world map.

XCOM 2 - 3

The world map is your second most used tool, as it will show you where your missions are, but also where the last pockets of the resistance are and also useful supply and resource drops. Pretty much everything on the map will take a few days of scanning, in order for you to actually activate/acquire the things you want to. While this might sound fairly easygoing, there are simply too many events that pop up on the map, while you also have to contact new resistance bases, at the same time you are constantly bothered with new objectives and missions, you can’t refuse. This means you’ll often have to abandon scanning projects, to fly to the other side of the world, hopefully to come back after the next mission, but you’ll get interrupted during your flight back anyway, making you abandon it again. That being said, you’ll sometimes be able to catch a break, and get a bit of ‘scanning’ done.

Just like all of the previous games in the franchise, the missions are views in a top down perspective, granting you the best possible overview. Combat itself is rather straightforward, as each of your soldiers will be able to perform two actions per turn. You can move (within the blue lines shown on the map) and after that you can still attack, reload, enter overwatch and so on. If you move within the yellow lines, you’ll only be able to perform the move action, if you don’t have any special skill (ranger) that allows you to perform an additional action. You’ll have to choose wisely on how you compose your team, as your soldiers can be different classes and thus each of them will have a different skill tree you can level. At the beginning of the game you’ll only be able to deploy four soldiers, which can get expanded to six, if you have the proper facilities available.

Each of your soldiers will also be able to carry his own set of gear, at least when it comes to armor, and a few upgrades for his basic weapon and up to two small extra items such as a grenade, a healing kit, and so on. Sometimes it proves to be worth it to check in advance what the mission info says about your enemies, as anti mind control items might come in handy now and then.

XCOM 2 - 4

While the overall gameplay proves to be very interesting, yet stressful at times, there are also a hefty amount of things that show the game was poorly tested before it was thrown onto Steam. Not only are things like the line of sight and hit percentage off more than once, these two combined become one of the reasons of many rage quits to follow. It’s not our idea of fun when you miss a target eight times in a row with a 95% chance to hit, or even reload your save file around thirty times to keep on missing, whatever you choose to do. It’s also quite weird when your soldier is standing three tiles away from an enemy, who is not behind cover, you only have a hit percentage of 15%. The latter actually happens a lot, which simply does not make sense. Sometimes you won’t even be able to target the enemy right in front of you, because the game states it’s not seen by your selected soldier.

Even though this game is claimed to be a strategy game, and for the most part it is, it’s not fun when most of the missions force you to clear it in a very low amount of turns. Due to this you’ll often have to rush to your objective and still have only one or two turns left, making it rather impossible to flank your enemies properly in the fixed amount of time you’re given. Not only the time limit tends to work to your disadvantage, also teleporting enemies, who get to teleport and perform an action after their teleport tend to mess up the entire strategy principle because whatever you do, they’ll still be able to hit your bunkered down soldiers – every – single – time. This adds more frustration to the overall experience rather than it explores the strategy principle more.

Conclusion

XCOM 2 is an amazing sequel to the reboot of the franchise, but it is currently still riddled with performance issues and bugs, which puts a damper on what could have been a near perfect game. Nonetheless, fans of the XCOM (or UFO) franchise will certainly enjoy this title, love how everything has turned out to be and will have ample content to keep them occupied for many hours to come. Newcomers to the strategy genre, might find the game a tad brutal, but it’s still very accessible for everyone who wants strategy and kick some alien butt in the process.

XCOM 2 - 5

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
XCOM 2 - Review, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.