Much like EA did with Syndicate earlier this year, 2K thought reviving the classic strategy series XCOM as a third-person shooter would be the best route for the series to take. Many long time fans cried “FOUL!” after the reveal at E3 2010 and made their wishes for a strategy game closer in tune with the roots of the series loud and clear.
Well, 2K games obviously isn’t deaf to the cries of its customers. Not only did they ease tensions by announcing a new strategy game, XCOM Enemy Unknown, but they even handed it over to Sid Meier’s Fireaxis Games, their A-squad strategy team popular for making the Civilization games. While Sid Meier might not be directly involved with the game, lead designer Jake Solomon has described the project as an absolute labor-of-love in just about every interview he gave during E3 this year, stating that the original XCOM game was what inspired him to create video games in the first place.
And quite frankly, it shows. XCOM Enemy Unknown has been so far much more well received by gamers around the internet. Even a lot of long time fans have embraced it as the true revival to the series, and 2K is probably left in a lot of wonder about maybe having dropped the ball by focusing too much attention on the third-person game for so long, especially after reports of Syndicate financially flopping.
Everything about the demos given at E3 screams of classic XCOM strategy. Customizable troops barrel through intense fire fights. Buildings can be destroyed, and ships can be infiltrated. Aliens can be fried, kidnapped, and tortured for secrets on their technology.
One thing the original XCOM accomplished was an emotional attachment to the soldiers players spent countless hours training. The feeling of pride and joy raising a full powered commando and watching him flawlessly blow apart a building sheltering an enemy squad of aliens has rarely ever been matched in a video game. On the flip side, watching prized troops fall in battle can be an absolute disaster. Jake Solomon wants gamers to experience that feeling towards their troops in this re-imagining as well.
When put side-by-side, there’s really no comparison between the two new XCOM games. This is the one gamers want. Not only does it remain true to the series’ roots, but it also shows better on screen and has a lot more interesting ideas.
XCOM Enemy Unknown has been scheduled for release on October 9, 2012 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.