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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.7


XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Elite Edition
August 26, 2013 | Ted Bade
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We shall smite the enemy with our mighty clipboards!

Requirements:

Mac OS X: 10.7.5 | CPU: 2 GHz Intel | RAM: 4 GB | HD Space: 15 GB | Graphics: 256 MB, (ATI): Radeon HD 4670; (NVIDIA): GeForce 9400M; Intel HD Graphics

Review:

Imagine our world is attacked by aliens, they are rampaging throughout the world, destroying structures and killing humans. Suddenly, you find yourself in command of an elite force of modern soldiers, geared with all the “State of the Art” equipment, and representing many nations. You might feel a bit over your head, but luckily, it’s just a game called XCOM - Enemy Unknown. Brought to Macs by Feral Interactive, the game is action packed, has great graphics, wonderful fight scenes, and loads of aliens to destroy. It’s a great game that will entertain almost any game player.

While playing, you get involved with all aspects of running and operating XCOM. Research, development, politics, and combat. The most interesting aspect, for me, was combat. Here you send a squad of soldiers to fight an alien installation. Game play is turn based, but the game provides a lot of action based animations that play out each aspect of the battle. Each member of your squad has certain abilities and equipment, which you need to learn about to use effectively.

Battles themselves can be pretty involved. Very realistically, you begin knowing very little about the number and location of the aliens when you arrive. The team needs to search carefully and locate the aliens without exposing themselves too much. The aliens aren’t stupid and they do have weapons that are more advanced then the humans. Some also have the ability to fly, which gives them a height advantage. Be careful with your soldiers, because death of a soldier is permanent. However, you can recruit more if you have enough funds.

Soldiers vary in their abilities and the equipment they can use. As they gain rank after battles, you get to choose what abilities/skills they will gain. Newer weapons, armor, and other equipment can be developed by XCOM’s research department and built by the engineering department. When this is done, you can equip your soldiers with the new gear, making them more efficient when dealing with aliens.

Another important battle aspect of XCOM are the air space battles between your human jet fighters and the alien ships. After your agree to scramble your jet(s), and they arrive on the scene, you take control of the firing. Quick reflexes and effective weapons are necessary to take down an alien ship. If you are successful the alien ship crashes, which generally creates a mission for your soldier squad to go in and get artifacts and destroy any remaining aliens. If you lose the air battle, you lose your jet fighter(s) and the general panic level in that geographical area increases, which is not good for you politically.

Rewards gained from the battles include gaining rank and abilities for soldiers, the acquisition of a variety of alien artifacts and materials, money and personnel for XCOM, and an effect on the level of concern/panic by the general population in that geographical area (an important political aspect of the game). Some missions have a goal to find and protect a special person, or to capture certain aliens or alien artifacts.

However, there are also the important aspects of running the XCOM organization. This includes research, engineering/development, soldier care, training, and recruitment, dealing with the panic levels of the member countries, and the politics of dealing with your directors. I can only hope, if anything like this ever happens, that our world leaders find a person to run this organization that is a “bit” more qualified to do the job then I am!

Research is the foundation for developing better weapons and armor needed to defeat the aliens. During the time between battles you will need to interface with the head of your research team to decide which direction research will go. There are usually a number of possible projects to choose from. Deciding the best options for your game plan is important and one of the game’s biggest challenges. Spend too much time developing items for your ground troops and your aircraft battles eventually turn into disasters. Research includes projects like analyzing alien weapons, energy sources, exotic materials, along with the dissection of dead aliens recovered, and the study of live aliens that are captured. All generally lead to knowledge of the aliens and how to defeat them.

Research takes time and scientists. While you get an allotment of scientists from member countries, you earn additional scientists by completing battles or performing services for member countries. A research project cannot be attempted unless you have the needed scientists and materials. Once the research project is complete, you are informed and generally provided with a brief of the results which explain the knowledge gained as well as any new equipment that can be built because of this. It is then a good idea to begin another research project.

The engineering aspect of XCOM is the department where the items you need get built. Once research is complete and XCOM gains the ability to make a new item, you can choose to spend the money and resources to build some. Engineering is also where you go to increase XCOM’s facilities. You might want to build things like power plants, workshops, and satellite tracking facilities necessary for the operation of XCOM. As with Research, you work with the head of Engineering to choose which items and facilities you want to spend resources on. To build things, you will need engineers as well as money and alien materials. Additional Engineers are acquired in much the same way as scientists.

Engineering, research, hiring of soldiers, and running XCOM requires money. XCOM gets a monthly income from member countries an well as contributions of engineers and scientists. When you lose a member country, you also lose the resources they provide on a monthly basis. You can acquire additional resources by completing missions for member countries. When multiple missions are available one needs to consider both the resources completing the mission will provide, as well as the political aspects. If that country is near panic, you might lose it if you don’t give them some support.



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