Game review: XCOM 2 – a challenging mission with cool new features

XCOM 2 2K PC Four stars When the aliens come, don’t rely on governments to save us. If The X-Files taught us anything, it is that we are on our own. We have already experienced this in XCOM: Enemy ­Unknown, in 2012. In XCOM 2, we find out that all our efforts in that game […]

XCOM 2

2K

PC

Four stars

When the aliens come, don’t rely on governments to save us. If The X-Files taught us anything, it is that we are on our own.

We have already experienced this in XCOM: Enemy ­Unknown, in 2012.

In XCOM 2, we find out that all our efforts in that game were for nothing. Twenty years have elapsed, and the extraterrestrials have taken over Earth anyway, with the help of their human ­collaborators.

In the game, you take on the role of the commander of a ragtag bunch of desperate, ill-prepared men and women who are nonetheless determined to fight it out it for survival.

There is not much in the way of firepower at your disposal – just some rickety pistols, rifles and grenades – but you do have an airborne base, the Avenger, in which you can fly to hot spots all over the planet.

In each mission, you send four recruits to the surface to battle the insect-like aliens, sabotage installations, gather intelligence and rescue civilians. Each confrontation takes place on a three-dimensional map viewed from above. Your soldiers move in turns, and can do two things at each turn.

The first is usually moving closer to the enemy, and the second is usually shooting at it.

You can also spend one of your action points healing a comrade, hacking a computer or hunkering down behind cover.

From the start, these missions are quite challenging, even at the default difficulty setting. My advice is to save your game frequently, because you never know when one of your hapless squaddies is about to get his head lasered off – and in XCOM, death is permanent, with no magical spells to reincarnate your lost partners.

The good news is that your ­soldiers get tougher and smarter with each mission they survive.

Meanwhile, the scientists you rescue are eager to get their hands on whatever alien technology you can salvage, which they use to create more powerful weapons and armour.

The overarching game – where you’re adding new facilities to the Avenger, levelling-up your soldiers and deciding which attacks will be most effective at stopping the alien ­takeover – is quite ­satisfying.

You never have all the resources you need to put out every fire, so you have to make plenty of tough decisions.

I became quite attached to some of my brave guerrillas – it was ­heartbreaking to lose one in a particularly desperate battle.

XCOM 2 looks good, but it is marred by technical hiccups, with the action slowing down or freezing all too frequently. And since it generates new missions on the fly, loading times can be excruciating.

Players who are used to the run-and-gun antics of first-person shooters such as Halo may find XCOM 2 too demanding, but I found its strategic challenges more satisfying. I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

Source: art & life

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