I honestly had no idea what to expect from XCOM: Enemy Unknown when gamefly sent it to me in the mail. The game was queued at number 5, so I was not anticipating it. I soon find out that XCOM is a turn based strategy game in the same genre as Disgaea, Final Fantasy Chronicles and Fire Emblem (one of my favorites). Before my review, let’s take a quick look at XCOM’s history.


The first installment of the franchise was released for DOS, Amiga, CD32, PlayStation and Windows in 1992. Gamespot praised the game, “put simply, XCOM is a bona fide modern classic, standing proudly alongside Civilization and Populous as a benchmark in the evolution of strategy gaming.” Not only did critics enjoy the game, but so did the mass market, selling over 600,000 units over the years. Some believe that the popularity of the X-Files, which premiered one year earlier, had something to do with the video game’s success.


A proficient and dedicated gamer, I tackled XCOM on it’s hardest difficulty, “Impossible.” What a mistake! I won’t say that “Impossible” is impossible, but when you have to save after every action and reload when alien shit hits the fan, some enjoyability is lost. The next difficulty, “Classic,” is far difficult enough, but doesn’t bring me to the point of throwing my controller at the screen. That having been said, I have greatly enjoyed playing XCOM.
The XCOM project is run by you, the commander, whose responsibility it is to manage R&D, the barracks, world politics and, of course, alien skirmishes and arial battles. There is no protagonist. At least not in a conventional sense. All the people you control in battle come the barracks. Each soldier is randomly generated with a predesigned specialization, however, you can customize their look. Perhaps it’s just my neurosis at work, but without any character development I’ve had to invent stories for my soldiers; stories usually based on the computer generated call sign given to said soldier. And then if they die, I have to restart to a previous save. I mean, I could just as easily buy more soldiers, but then I feel like a dick. How can I just let Emma “Mama Bear” Kelley die and replace her with some newbie after she helped pull 10 civilians out of that hellish battle in Germany?
Speaking of code names, I have this one sniper, code named “Longshot,” who NEVER HITS HIS TARGET. GOD! The percent to hit will be 90% (NINETY FUCKING PERCENT) and he’ll miss. Talk about a long shot. I still gotta keep him though. It’s the same feeling as raising a Pokemon from a low level and taking him/her all the way to the elite four. It’s a sense of accomplishment and I feel responsible for each and every one of my soldiers. So much so that it becomes a detriment.
Not all soldiers are acquired by purchasing them. Sometimes missions will present you with the opportunity to acquire an “elite” soldier. On one particular mission I save this heavy weapons guy, codenamed “Boom-Boom.” The entire time I’m trying to get him he’s complaining about how long I’m taking. So I’m like, “fine dude! you gonna complain? Then your code name is “Boom-Boom” because you are obviously shitting your pants.”
All in all, XCOM is a solid  game. It will eat away hours and hours of your life before you even know what hit you. But, you know what won’t hit you? Longshot. Fuck that guy.
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Co-Founder at Wrong Button Media
Peter Kunin is a writer, actor, martial artist, video game guru and future savior of the human race from the coming zombie apocalypse (You’re welcome). He has a degree from Cal State Northridge for Cinema and Television Arts and is the manager of PittStop Comics in Woodland Hills, CA.
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