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XCOM: Enemy Unknown mixes strategy and turn-based combat, first screensby Jessica Conditt on Jan 9th 2012 4:00PM18Looks like we were right again -- Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown isn't a remake of the original game, but is more of a re-imagining, Firaxis told Game Informer. Enemy Unknown will mix real-time strategy on a global scale with turn-based combat, making it less of an RTS in the classic sense, Firaxis said.Strategically, players will handle all the holistic aspects of conducting extra-terrestrial warfare, including directing research into alien technology, mollifying nations worldwide to secure funding, attacking UFOs with jet fighters, leveling up soldiers, recruiting new ones and directing the Skyranger transport to battle aliens on the ground.Enemy Unknown isn't copying the functions of the 1994 original -- soldiers will have different stats, for example -- and it gets rid of much of the "tedium and uninteresting mechanics," while keeping gameplay challenging, Firaxis said. Enemy Unknown takes place in the thick of the alien invasion of Earth, while 2K Marin's first-person shooter XCOM covers the first alien attacks on the US. This is interesting, considering Enemy Unknown may end up launching before 2K Marin's title.
Sid Meier Talks XCOM: Enemy Unknownvideo interviewby Ben Hanson on January 20, 2012 at 11:25 AM 3,671 Views 5While Jake Solomon is the lead designer on XCOM: Enemy Unknown, it wouldn't be a true Firaxis game without a little involvement from Sid Meier. The gaming industry legend serves as the director of creative development at Firaxis Games and the XCOM team treats him as the holy man to consult on top of the mountain. We spoke to Sid Meier about his history with X-COM, who the game is for, and what will make XCOM: Enemy Unknown feel at home in the Firaxis library. Check out the video below to learn more.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown launches retail operations October 9by Alexander Sliwinski on May 22nd 2012 8:07AM9 XCOM: Enemy Unknown begins training a new generation of operatives in the art of global xeno defense on October 9 and 13 in North America and internationally, respectively. 2K Games plans to launch the console and PC versions simultaneously.Pre-orders of the game will receive the Elite Soldier Pack DLC, featuring a blonde, flattopped recruit inspired by the original XCOM. It also includes soldier deco packs for players to customize the look of their character with "complete color customization." XCOM fuchsia team, move out!The October XCOM launch brings a little more clarity to BioShock Infinite's move to 2013, giving 2K Games more breathing room for a potential break-out by a mostly forgotten franchise. This doesn't mean GTA V is off the table for October, but it's hard to imagine the blockbuster series launching then without sacrificing one of the publisher's games in that month. And by "one," we mean XCOM.
XCOM: Enemy UnknownXCOM: Enemy Unknown Exceeds Our Lofty Expectationspreviewby Adam Biessener on June 07, 2012 at 09:17 PM 3,013 Views As enthusiastic as Iíve been about Firaxisí XCOM strategy remake since writing the GI cover story, my opinion has only improved since playing a decent chunk of it this morning.XCOMís core concept shines through beautifully. The tutorial mission wastes little time in introducing players to what XCOM: Enemy Unknown is all about, killing off three of your four squaddies within ten minutes. Learning the controls is a snap, and giving out orders on the 360 pad the demo used couldnít be easier. More importantly, picking up on the base level of the tactical skills XCOM demands is a matter of minutes.As promised, aliens have no qualms about murdering your troops. Leaving a squaddie in the open when aliens are about is all but a death sentence. Even worse, most cover doesnít last long against alien weaponry Ė nearly everything is destructible, and even if a shot misses itís likely to blow a hole in something. On the plus side, even the basic human weapons that XCOM operatives start with are more than capable of taking out whatever the bad guys are hiding behind as well. The first time you fling a grenade at a Sectoid and donít just kill the malevolent little bugger but level the shack itís hiding in, youíll never want to go back to a game that lacks destructible terrain.In a lot of ways, playing XCOM doesnít feel like the slow menu-driven navigation that we commonly associate with strategy games. Moving squaddies around the gridless world is effortless and fast, executing actions is a few quick button presses, and the alien turn goes by in seconds. Little touches, like how you can move a second character while the first one is still animating her run, make the turns fly by. Iíve played a lot of tactical RPGs, and XCOMís interface is the best Iíve seen.The ďant farmĒ base where you return between missions and work your overall strategy is similarly easy to navigate. Choosing research and engineering projects, leveling up soldiers, dealing with the Funding Council, and the rest of the strategy portion is simple and easy. I love that nearly every decision you make has clear, significant benefits and drawbacks. Help China, and the U.S. throws a fit as their citizensí panic level rises. Research alien weapon fragments, and the Sectoid corpses sitting on your autopsy tables keep their secrets to themselves. Build advanced scopes, and youíve got no money for the hundred other uses for cash. The difference in equipping a squaddie with a scope or with grenades is huge.The only thing Iím not a fan of that I saw today are the occasionally janky cuts to ďglam camsĒ in combat, but Firaxis assures me that youíll be able to turn those off entirely. Thank goodness for that.In a second, hands-off demo, Firaxis showed off several endgame abilities and one of the legendary soldiers you can unlock. An assault soldier with ghost armor hauled ass across what seemed like half the map in a single turn, while cloaked, and grappled up to the top of a building to shotgun an unsuspecting alien in the face. A sniper with a jetpack took off and blew away two monsters behind heavy cover from his superior vantage point with a lethal plasma rifle. Sid Meier himself Ė the in-game model is dead on, except for the legendary developer being a hulking space marine instead of a mild-mannered kindly man of small stature Ė took control of an alienís mind and had it eat its own grenade.I couldnít be happier with how XCOM is turning out now that Iíve gotten to play it for myself. I canít wait to dig into the full game Ė and to play with all the awesome toys that result from XCOMís efforts to turn the aliensí own tech against them. Now that the show is over, I can say with no reservations that XCOM is my personal favorite thing shown at E3 2012.
Best PC GameXCOM: Enemy Unknown(Firaxis Games/2K Games for PC, PS3, Xbox 360)Best Strategy GameXCOM: Enemy Unknown(Firaxis Games/2K Games for PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Preview: XCOM: Enemy Unknown MultiplayerBy Mike Sharkey | Aug 10, 2012AI aliens won't be your only opponents in Firaxis' XCOM remake.Multiplayer in XCOM? A dream for many fans of the original who have always wanted to take a Sectoid Commander out for a spin, it's also a worry for others who feel Firaxis should maintain a laser-weapon focus on the single-player campaign in its remake of the beloved PC classic. Well, as Firaxis revealed at a hands-on event at its Baltimore studio last week, multiplayer is in. Is it any good? Does it deliver that XCOM experience? Does it somehow detract from the single-player?Multiplayer not only delivers the XCOM experience, in many ways it actually makes it more intense. Let's address that last question first, because it's the first I asked Lead Designer Jake Solomon and Producer Garth DeAngelis. Would the resources spent on the multiplayer have been put to better use on the campaign? DeAngelis says that's not an issue, pointing out that publisher 2K specifically wanted to include multiplayer to add replay value, and provided additional funding for multiplayer that paid for a dedicated team to develop it. Solomon insists it's not a tacked-on feature to add an extra bullet point on the back of the box. In fact, one of the additions he wanted in his modern XCOM from the outset was a 1v1, squad-versus-squad multiplayer mode. And guess what? It not only delivers the XCOM experience, in many ways it actually makes it more intense. Choose your WeaponsYou start a multiplayer match with a 10,000-point budget and six soldier slots to fill. All units in the campaign are available, human and alien, each with its own price tag. For example, standard human soldiers are 800 points, but you must outfit them with weapons, armor, and perks, all of which cost additional points (I spent roughly 2,500 points fully equipping a human sniper). Alien units, however, come pre-made with set gear and abilities. XCOM's little gray men, Sectoids, are the lowest-cost units at 400 points, and at the very top of the menu are the 4,000 point Cyberdiscs, powerful aliens that can fly, are immune to poison and psionic attacks, and do tons of damage.Here's a look at the unit selection scree-Marvin the Martian? He's a Sectoid?!Solomon noted that Firaxis has the ability to instantly make balance tweaks by adjusting unit point costs on the server side (without the need for patches), and after seeing the Cyberdisc perform its devastating, Last Star Fighter-like AoE attack, Death Blossom, I'd say it'll be among the first to get a healthy cost bump.You'll have to create your strategy on the fly and adapt to the environment, as well as your opponent's strengths and weaknesses. In other words, you'll have to play XCOM. XCOM's subtitle is Enemy Unknown, and multiplayer embodies that to a tee: you don't see which units your opponent selected until you spot them on the battlefield (which is randomly selected from five maps planned for launch). You'll have to create your strategy on the fly and adapt to the environment, as well as your opponent's strengths and weaknesses. In other words, you'll have to play XCOM.The first map I was dropped into was a town square at night, with a stone statue and fountain in its center. My squad: a fast moving, zombie-making alien Chrysalid, a human soldier with heavy armor and a big laser gun, a human sniper with Ghost armor for stealth and a nice aim perk, a tough Muton Berzerker tank, a Sectoid for mind-merge buffing, and a flying alien Floater capable of rocketing to any spot on the map in one turn. Off we go!Not knowing where my opponent would come from, I sent my Chrysalid out as a scout. His long-distance move ability enabled me to get out far on the left flank and take a defensive position behind a truck. Everyone else I kept fairly close together, thinking I'd have a better idea of how to deploy my attack once the Chrysalid spotted the enemy. I put my sniper into stealth, turned on Overwatch for everyone (ordering them to fire at enemies on sight), and hunkered down.Pro tip: proceed with caution.As my opponent played out his 90-second turn, I heard occasional scampering of alien feet or the stomp of boots -- definitely a mixed squad like mine. Still, my foe's forces remained hidden by the fog of war. For my second turn, I felt confident I could move my Chrysalid up to the next cover position and hopefully spot some bad guys. Over confident, as it turned out -- my bold movement order sent the spider-like creature directly into the firing line of two human soldiers in Overwatch. Goodbye Chrysalid. Bad Guy: 1 Me: 0.I told Solomon about my first crash-and-burn experience in detail and he laughed, not because of my foolish rookie mistake, but because he knows the feeling well. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson there, but I continued to push forward and paid dearly for it. An enemy sniper equipped with jetpack Archangel armor floated above, giving him a huge 20% chance-to-hit boost and earning a more fitting nickname: Angel of Death. My weakened squad was fully revealed, and I was decimated in no time flat. I traced my failure back to my Chrysalid move, a death that put me on tilt and led to overly aggressive play. I told Solomon about my first crash-and-burn experience in detail and he laughed, not because of my foolish rookie mistake, but because he knows the feeling well."If you lose, you'll immediately go back and say, 'This is how I could have won it. This is where it all went south.' We find ourselves working backwards from the outcome, replaying it and all of our decisions. Many matches turn on, 'Should I take the shot? It's a 30% chance, and if I make it, I'll win the match. Should I take it or should I wait?'"My advice on those 30% shots? Wait.Never Tell Me The OddsLike a classic tactical strategy game, your characters can only attack an enemy when they have line of sight, and the chance of landing a shot is displayed with a percentage. If you're up close and personal with nothing in the way, your chance to hit will be in the 90% range with most weapons. Put some distance and boxes, cars, and other environmental elements into the picture, and your chance to hit percentage ticks down accordingly.An 81% chance to hit is far from a sure thing.Here's the thing, though: when you've lined up that perfect 91% chance to hit shot and you miss, it's crushing. And those misses do happen -- quite often, actually. For example, at a turning point in my second match, I positioned my sniper to take an 80% shot. In my mind, 80% was fish-in-a-barrel. In reality, there was a one-in-five chance I would miss, and that's just what happened. I shouted in shock, letting my opponent know he'd just escaped certain death thanks to Lady Luck. Similar shouts of frustration and hoots of joy were heard from journalists throughout the event, with players missing high-percentage shots and, conversely, making low-percentage ones."If you miss a shot, you have to tell your opponent," Solomon said with a laugh. "You woulda been dead! There was a 94% chance to hit and it missed, so I hope you enjoy your cheap victory!" Solomon said that one Firaxis dev had such a string of bad luck with missed shots that he became convinced there was a bug in the code. Solomon encouraged him to take a look, and after a thorough inspection he came back the next day with a sigh, saying, "Code's good.""It's funny," Solomon said, "in our minds, anything over a 75% chance is a 100% guarantee."But there are no guarantees in the XCOM multiplayer. Every unit has a weakness, every squad an Achilles heel, and even if you play out your strategy perfectly, the match can still be decided by the digital dice roll that takes place beneath layers of code. It's like speed chess with the addition of mystery and chance, and as I discovered, that's a combination that's pretty damn fun. And it's still XCOM.It makes sense, given the source. "[The original] X-COM is my favorite game, and this is the moment I've been working toward the last 10 years of my career," says Solomon. "I've been wanting to make it even longer -- ever since I played it in high school. It's why I got a computer science degree, and why I came to Firaxis. This is the game I've always wanted to make."In short, Solomon gets it. He's an old-school X-COMer, and he's determined to deliver that core, nail-biting "oh god, I hope I didn't just send my favorite soldier to his permadeath at the hands of a Muton hidden by the fog of war" experience. That determination paid off in this brief hands-on -- a great sign, considering we're now just a couple of months away from XCOM: Enemy Unknown's October 9th release date.
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