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


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


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.


Some bugs that affect primarily tablets.
No Google Play Games services.

Bottom Line

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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Joe Hindy
Hi everyone! I'm Joe Hindy the Android Authority app guy!
  • Cloaker

    “XCOM: Enemy Unknown was originally released as a free-to-play game on PC back in 2012.” …it wasn’t free to play, it had the same price on Steam as any other AAA game…get your facts straight.

  • Otto Andersson

    After playing this as a huge fan of the PC version. I will say that this is an excellent choice if you have a long plane ride. However, the touch controls are not well implemented. Trying to change elevation can especially be a nightmare. Here are my notes from a gamers perspective and from the perspective of someone that most smartphone games.

    The camera is constantly zoomed in, so the user is unable to get a large scale view of the battlefield which is essential in a tactics game. You constantly have to zoom the camera back using the clunky pinch gestures (pinch to zoom in and out is inferior to the Google maps gesture of double tap and slide).

    The game play seems ugh easier than the PC version, and I won’t even consider myself that good. No doubt, this game was dumbed down in difficulty to appease the Apple crowd, as this port is based on the IOS version.

    The alien interrogation and biopsy scenes have been removed, but this isn’t a huge deal. Users do not have the China campaign that was later added as an expansion.

    The computer doesn’t seem to pick the soldier that the user wants to pick next. This would be no big deal if the camera weren’t constantly zoomed in. This gets very tedious to long time fans that know the importance of scouting and setting up an over watch.

    Should you get it? If you want something fun to do on a really long airplane ride, get this. It ran for almost 4 hours on my Nexus 7 Gen 2 in airplane mode on a full battery. You will not get the same results on most laptops.

    10 bucks seems like a good deal for a PC game, but this game is usually on a flash sale for even cheaper on steam. If the Enemy Within expansion becomes a free upgrade in the future, than 10 bucks will be worth it.

    Otherwise, I would skip this. I think 2k dropped the ball on this. Although the graphics look fantastic, this game is incompatible to so many devices. The irony is that for strategy games graphics aren’t even that important. The developers should have made the same game play in really basic graphics in order to increase device compatibility and speed up processing time.

    I rate this game as a “pirate only” if you have the PC version. If you never layer before, then this is a good version to start on.

    • Mozaik

      You were right for most part , but you lost credit when you said dumbed down to appease iOS crowd , I would like to straight your facts , this game wouldn’t be ported if it weren’t for iOS user giving out money to buy games like this unlike android user.

      • Otto Andersson

        Oh I do agree. It came out super negative, but Apple users certainly fork over most cash for software. This is an issue.

        I felt that the game was easier, but it could be because I played the game so much on the pc. This mini review was to cover the game from my own perspective. So, that’s just what it felt like to me.

        Tone down your hostility. You have valid points but terrible tact.