Tag Archives: x-com

Thoughts: Xenonauts


When Xenonauts development started all the way back in 2009, it had a simple mission statement: to be a modern update of the X-COM series, giving things a new lick of paint but otherwise preserving the mechanical core of the game. This was very much a good idea at the time. X-COM had been criminally neglected for over a decade, with only Altair’s excruciatingly mediocre1 UFO: AfterX series carrying the torch in the meantime, and there was definitely a gap in the market for an X-COM remake — especially after 2K announced that their own X-COM reboot would be a third-person shooter (this was the game that would eventually become the insipid Bureau).  Thus it was that Goldhawk Interactive was formed, and work began on Xenonauts.

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  1. I actually quite liked the first one, up to a point. That point was when I assaulted a UFO and spawned with my squad clustered in a small chamber surrounded by three aliens with rocket launchers. I never went back to the series after that.
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Thoughts: Enemy Within.


Enemy Within is the first expansion to the XCOM remake, a game which was pretty well received on here over a year ago but which in the long run turned out to suffer from some fairly deep-seated structural issues – the aliens’ completely supine geoscape presence and an inverse difficulty curve  being amongst the most prominent. A good thing, then, that it was made by Firaxis, since if there’s one thing Firaxis excel at it’s fixing critical flaws with comprehensive and well-designed expansion packs. After the success of Gods and Kings and the well-designed additions Brave New World made to Civ V (even if I didn’t particularly agree with them all that much) I had high hopes that Enemy Within would do the same for XCOM.

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Thoughts: XCOM.

This is it. This is the game I have been waiting for ever since it was announced at the start of the year, and for a good decade before that. Watching literally every single attempt to “update” XCOM for the modern generation over the last ten years has been a painful experience, and I was more than a little aghast when it seemed like the official update would be a first-person shooter with lots of conveniently-placed waist-high cover. Then Firaxis said they were making a proper tactical squad-based TBS, and everyone rejoiced. Then Firaxis mentioned the things they were going to change – no time units, only one base, unlimited reloads on the guns, to mention just a few of them – and everyone said “Er.” Or at least I did. The lead designer on XCOM, Jake Solomon, did an excellent job of explaining the reasoning behind Firaxis’s tinkering and at least left open the possibility that it might not be a total disaster, so while I wasn’t all that hopeful for the game I decided to reserve judgement until I actually played it.  

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X-COM Remake: It’ll probably suck.


The issue of Game Informer with the preview of Firaxis’s X-COM remake has hit the streets. I don’t have a copy, but helpful people are culling the salient details and posting them on various forums. The major eyebrow raising changes are below.

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X-COM Remake: It Might Not Suck.

“Legendary” is probably pushing it a little bit.

Contrary to what you might think, I didn’t outright condemn the FPS XCOM “update” when I first saw it. I was sceptical about how good it would be, yes, but unlike some old classics there’s definitely room to adapt the basic tenets of X-COM gameplay to a first person game. Hell, game developers recognised they had this latitude over a decade ago when FPSes were still a hot new thing and not the tired old warhorse of gaming. Unfortunately after the screenshots and videos revealed scripted alien encounter cutscenes along with an uncanny proliferation of waist-high cover rather than the Rainbow Six-style tactical shooter I’d envisaged, any hopes I might have had for X-COM were dashed barring 2K Games suffering a sudden rash of sanity and also giving the licence to a dedicated strategy game developer like Firaxis.

Which is why I was somewhat surprised to discover, upon getting out of bed yesterday, that they had done exactly that.

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