XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

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Page 2 of 2XCOM: Enemy Unknown review

Neatly streamlined tactical combat, cleverly intertwined with a simple but engaging strategic element



Once you’ve vanquished your alien foes, then it’s back to base with your bounty. Any new alien species slain will need to undergo autopsies, while captured equipment can help towards research. Your science team does research and your engineers build new goodies - both teams need to be strengthened with manpower donated by grateful countries.

The base itself has to be expanded as you progress. New areas must be excavated and power sources built to support your ever-growing needs. You also have a satellite grid that can be expanded to spot UFOs and let you go on the offensive. Your hangar contains interceptor craft that can be sent to shoot down approaching enemies, allowing your squad to raid the crash site. You don’t get to fly the interceptors, but they will need weapon upgrades to be successful.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

The XCOM base must be physically expanded to increase your capabilities

It’s the interplay between what you do on the battlefield and what you do at your base that has always made the XCOM series. Use too many explosives and there will be nothing left to bring home, but risk getting close enough to Taser a weakened alien and you’ll be able to interrogate them later. Wounded squad members will be out of action for many days, missing subsequent missions, and the death of a veteran can seriously hamper future battles.

Although the individual encounters are randomly generated, there’s a definite narrative structure to the game - which is identical on further playthroughs. We don’t want to spoil the highlights of the plot, but there’s enough here to break up what could otherwise become routine.


On normal difficulty we found the initially-challenging combat became a tad too easy by the latter stages of the game - if you take the time to be cautious. That said, it’s still highly enjoyable throughout, and after our first playthrough there were lots of avenues we hadn’t explored and tactics we hadn’t tried, so another game on a higher difficulty looks to be rewarding. It’s the best turn-based combat game we’ve played in years, and one that should appeal to a far wider audience than more hardcore offerings.


Price £28
Details http://www.xcom.com/enemyunknown
Rating *****

Page 2 of 2XCOM: Enemy Unknown review