XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

May 14, 2014
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XCOM: Enemy Unknown was originally released as a free-to-play game on PC back in 2012. It’s won a number of awards including game of the year from a number of blogs. A couple of weeks ago, XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released for Android. Can this version stack up to the original despite not being free to play? Let’s find out!


XCOM enemy unknown

Game play

So for those who have never played XCOM, here’s how it works. This is a strategy game where you must move your soldiers around a map to try to out maneuver, out-flank, and kill the enemy. Of course, the enemy is trying to do the exact same thing to you and therein lies the challenge of the game. Did I mention, the enemies were predominately aliens?

Between missions you get the opportunity to do a lot of things to help you during the upcoming battles. This includes researching new technology, recruiting new soldiers, and otherwise beefing up your offensive and defensive capabilities and personnel for future missions.

There are 4 difficulties to start with. If you’ve played XCOM or games like XCOM before then you can probably try it at a higher setting. However, I did try that and I’m new to this type of game play and it whipped me so if you aren’t familiar with how these games work, you should probably play at a lower difficulty first.

During combat, each player can move a two times or dash a great distance once. You can also attack with weapons and grenades, get a better view, or hunker down to try to improve your defense. The concept is you must move into a good position and kill the bad guys without getting your team killed.


XCOM enemy unknown

Mechanics

The mechanics for this game are very simple. The touch controls translate very well from PC and while I’m sure the PC controls are better, players on Android shouldn’t feel as though they’re missing out too much.
In combat, you select where your team goes and they go there. You can then pick among the actions on the task bar below. At any point you can move around the screen by swiping to see your enemy positions. As you can imagine, the more you outflank them, the more damage you do, and the more advantage you have in combat.

Outside of combat, things get a lot more interesting. In the home base you can train and upgrade your troops, research new stuff to use in combat, view upcoming missions, and all kinds of other tomfoolery. Even though strategic combat can mean the difference between a win and a loss, XCOM is done in such a way that proper upgrades are just as important as proper combat tactics and that adds a lot of depth to the game.


XCOM enemy unknown

PROS
  • Really good grahpics accompanied by well done voice acting and cut scenes.
  • Easy to learn controls.
  • The combat mechanics plus the headquarters upgrades make for a very in depth game.
  • No in app purchases at all.
  • The combat is difficult enough to be actually challenging and fun.
CONS
  • Some bugs that affect primarily tablets.
  • No Google Play Games services.
9.0

Overall, XCOM is the kind of game Android gaming enthusiasts have been waiting for. It’s a long, drawn out game with great graphics, good controls, and as coherent of a story as you can possibly expect from a strategy game. I don’t often tell my viewers to go spend $9.99. However, if you like strategy shooters, this is $9.99 well spent.

Of course if you don’t like strategy shooters, then you likely won’t enjoy this title. It doesn’t take full advantage of the Android platform and there is the occasional bug for some people, but the fact that this is a game that helps take the platform to the next level far outweigh the negatives aspects of the title. If you’ve been waiting for this type of game, go give it a shot.

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