May be too difficult

by Shane Dillon

WHILE robots may be returning in force to our big and small screens (see below), and while cuddly creatures are captivating millions of people who’re supposed to be capturing them (see right), there’s still one group of beings that are always in vogue – aliens.
The XCom series has always presented gamers with a crushing strategy challenge, where one false move can have drastic consequences as the player runs the shadowy XCom agency as it covertly fights back at aliens trying to invade.
XCom 2 (Cert 16, PC, Mac, PS4, XBO, c. €50) builds on all the conventions established in the long-running series.
The twist here is that you start with the aliens having very successfully invaded Earth years ago, thank you very much, with the XCom resistance facing the daunting challenge of fighting back.
It’s a game of move and counter-move, cause and effect, played out across isometric playing fields. You move your characters during your turn – and then the aliens do the same, like a particularly rigid gentleman’s agreement.
By maximising a wide range of variables, from height advantages to unit types, weapon types and special abilities, the hope is to win the day – or at least to survive the mission, as XCom enforces “permadeath”.
If you play badly with poor strategies, your characters will die. Lose enough people, and XCom begins to lose support. Lose support, and the challenges get even harder to overcome, with the loss of a single important character potentially turning the tide of the whole war against you.
There’s little here that XCom veterans won’t have seen before. Despite being comparatively simple to look at, the nicely detailed levels and environments can suffer from occasional framerate issues, with the in-game assets sometimes battling to keep up.
However, it’s still a decent XCom addition, presenting a stiff challenge that requires plenty of thought and planning, and there’s still little to beat the classic XCom feeling of completing a tough mission with everybody still alive.
Well done, Commander –until your next mission …

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