XCOMed

By the time this gets posted, I will probably be done with my first play-through of XCOM: Enemy Within after ~20 hours.

Taking the advice of many others, I started out with Normal Ironman difficulty which turns the game into a sort of roguelike. While I have lost quite a few agents, the majority of them were rookie redshirts I tasked with carrying around the stun gun to take the aliens alive. A sort of morbid hazing ritual, if you will. An unfortunate few were grizzled veterans who got one-shot by new alien types before I had a chance to realize the danger. Or simply victims of poor planning when the only guy with a Medkit is the one bleeding to death. Too bad all the people standing around him cannot, you know, take the Medkit from his pocket and spray him, but I suppose knowledge of medicinal nanomachine application is only imparted at the character select screen.

I always find it interesting how I start developing relationships with the randomly generated characters though. Name, gender, nickname, nationality, and even class are all randomly determined, but you can customize some of those qualities. One stun gun redshirt managed to beat the odds and survive the bagging of two new alien species… and suddenly I am taking Chloe Dupont the saucy German Assault trooper with me everywhere. Mechanically, Chloe is indistinguishable from any of the other max-level Assault troopers, but I have had more fun ordering her watching her aggressively breach UFOs armed with a shotgun and the same stun gun she has carried since her initiation than any of the others. Just yesterday there was a rather hilarious moment when I put her on Overwatch mode, and during the enemy turn one Muton Elite turned a corner only to get an Alloy shot in the face, while a second Muton triggered her auto-reaction shot when it climbed a ladder I didn’t realize she was standing next to. It was practically a scene out of an action movie.

Other times, I sorta feel bad bringing, say, any new sniper because that entire class is cursed. “Sorry, Yoshio Saito of Japan. You’re probably going to die.” Sure enough, that is the mission when the aliens start using grenades, a redshirt bites the dust, my other redshirt panics and, in defiance of his accuracy rate for the entire goddamn mission up to this point, shoots Saito in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

Anyway, game is pretty fun thus far and the full review will need to wait until A) I finish, and possibly B) I try out Classic Ironman. The only negative I have is the slight impression that the game isn’t really all that deep for a “tactical” game. A lot of times I feel like I’m playing a turn-based Dawn of War 2, or one of those WW2 squad-based cover games. Also, the game is terrible when it comes to indicating at which locations (and elevations!) you can actually see/shoot at the aliens someone else sees before moving there. If you have already committed your game to having grid-based movement, give me grid-based weapon ranges and Line-of-Sight indicators.

XCOM is no Final Fantasy Tactics, or Tactics Ogre for that matter, but it is pretty good nevertheless.

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Posted on December 27, 2012, in Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Oh Tactic Ogre, why did your PsP remake have to feel so shallow? ;_;

    • Bah, they changed it for the remake? All Tactics Ogre needed was a better way of getting more skills/XP than the rock-throwing team competitions and possibly a way to rotate the camera (although that would change the dynamics a bit).

  2. “Also, the game is terrible when it comes to indicating at which locations (and elevations!) you can actually see/shoot at the aliens someone else sees before moving there.”

    Yep. Probably my biggest complaint with the game and an obvious major oversight.

    • I have literally never played a tactical game that was so anti-ranged with its gameplay. Fallout Tactics didn’t have such a feature, but it allowed you to make small adjustments to your (non-grid) positioning to get a proper angle through the doorway or whatever. With XCOM, it was a surprise half the time. Sometimes you can shoot aliens through solid objects, sometimes that trashcan ruins the shot.

  3. Line of sight is even worse when it comes to snipers without squadsight skill (so it’s a must-have skill) and heavies with rockets.

    Admittedly, shooting a rocket from behind a cover is easy but it is made almost pointless by the fact that your range is just 2 tiles greater than the vision range of the aliens. So a spotter looking for aliens for you to blow up alerts them.

    Again, recommended skill to get – Battle Scanner (Sniper). You can use it on turn 1/2 and get into position on the next turn for a rocket salvo + snipers finishing them off.

    Finally, a great way to combat line of sight? Multiple assaults with shotguns shooting at point blank range with run and gun.

    • Yeah, I definitely had 3 Assault units during every single mission once I realized how ridiculously good Run & Gun + the Double-Shot thing was. My typical squad was 3 Assault, 1 Heavy, 1 Support, and a SHIV that I used to bait aliens.

  4. I’ve played through Ironman classic and I found 2 snipers to be essential for the higher levels. Once you get 2 squadsight+double-tap+plasma you can take out anything in one turn. This is particularly critical for the Sectopods, or groups of Muton elites that can one shot or heavily damage your team members.

    Letting your Assaults get in close you increase the risk of Alien reinforcements putting some shots in. I found it’s safer overall to play the overwatch trap game. Particularly with Opportunist snipers.