X-COM is a legendary strategy video gaming franchise that was started in 1994 by Mythos Games and Microprose. The games usually feature an international elite team of agents tasked with countering alien invasions of our planet. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified takes place in 1962. These are exciting times! Music: Beatles and Stones! Fashion: miniskirts and bikinis! Film: Sean Connery as 007! It is no wonder that a mysterious race of alien invaders, mysteriously called the “Outsiders” would want to take part in the fun. Your task as special agent William Carter is to lead a team of agents from the equally mysterious Bureau “XCOM” to counter the alien invasion.
Playability: XCOM very classified
XCOM Declassified is not for fastidious planners and meticulous strategists. The Bureau is a strange (or innovative) hybrid of slow motion strategy and real time third person shooting. You can issue orders to your squad members in slow motion mode. Your characters move around to execute your orders (walk slovenly, use bazooka, plant mine, have cup of tea etc) with a singular lack of competence. It’s not uncommon for teammates to blow themselves up with rather lamentable grenade throws. There is a surprising absence of proper tutorials and adequate introduction to Bureau weapons, powers and classes of agents.
Annoyance: Wonkily moving around without a grid
For armchair strategists who enjoy taking their time to examine every angle of a shoot out, XCOM Declassified can be a frustratingly fast paced experience. For alien nukers who enjoy uninterrupted trigger happy action, XCOM Declassified can be a frustratingly slow motion experience. For those used to hexagonal boards, the gridless pathway moves will be rather unintuitive. Where to go? Try left… doesn’t work! Try right… nope! Dash forward… way is blocked! Retreat… too late, big headed sectoid has your tiny head at point blank already! For those without expectations or gaming baggage, XCOM Declassified will have a bit of everything…
Beauty: Waiting for Napoleon Solo
Neither suave like Napoleon Solo, nor ruthlessly intellectual like Illya Kuryakin, the XCOM recruits appear Middle American men, desk workers and generic pencil pushers. XCOM Declassified lacks soul and excitement. The alien foes have more fashion conscious gear, lithe moves and purpose than the lackadaisical squad you command. Why is there a need for trails of gore, guts and gobbles throughout the depopulated scenery? XCOM Declassified surroundings feel like a hastily assembled 1960s set by millennials who’ve never seen a Philips cassette player or a beach babe in bikini.
The Old Video Gamer’s Prattle: Uninspired fake 1960s 5/10
XCOM Declassified is not a traditional X-COM turn based strategy, which in itself is no problem at all. A change of scenery to the 1960s could have provided ample opportunities for fast cars, Cold War innuendos, womanizing spies and Iron Curtain femmes fatales. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified falls somewhat short on exotic locations, excitement and gaming fun. The head scratching plot is more reminiscent of present day angst than it is of 1960s sexual revolution. It could have been more interesting for XCOM players to take on the role of the alien expeditionary force intent on wiping the slovenly teams of bored human operatives populating the staged corridors of the Bureau.