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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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Where is my preciouss?
A major aspect of playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, is learning to effectively utilize the various types of resources you have to the greatest effect. It is all too easy to spend resources developing new weapons or armor, then discover you donít have enough left to build a new satellite needed to monitor the world and acquire new missions, or to replace dead soldiers and lost aircraft.

The gameís interface is easy to use and relatively intuitive. In the XCOM headquarters you see a side view of the complex, and can click on an area to see the activities that can be done there. There are also menu tabs that bring you to a specific aspect of a facility, such as Research, Engineering, the Barracks, and so forth. A pull down menu gives immediate access to specific subsections of this area.

Since the game is turn based, when in XCOM headquarters, you need to move time along. This is done by ďScanning for alien activity.Ē The scanning continues until the game either presents some alien activity that requires your attention or enough time passes for a project to complete. You then attend to what ever happens and then go back to moving time along. Often the activity that occurs takes a goodly amount of time to resolve, which itself tends to move time along.

You will spend a lot of game time with the running of XCOM. Select a department and choose what you want to do. Engineering and research require a little reading, then a few clicks on items to research or build them. Thatís the easy part, the harder part is to decide which projects to tackle and what resources can be used. Deploying equipment can also be a task.

Soldier gear is added to your squad just before you send them out on a mission. There is limited space for them to carry equipment, so again itís a matter of you deciding to leave behind one piece of gear and bring along another. Special gear, such as a gun to stun aliens for capture, needs to be included with a party or you wonít be able to complete that aspect of the mission (not to mention that the item might be lost to use if the soldier carrying it is killed).

Aerial battles have a simple overhead view of your fighter(s) and the alien craft. You attack them, they attack you, and eventually someone crashes or the aliens get away. There really isnít much more to it then that, which is a little disappointing.†The game more then makes up for this with the amount of graphics and animations provided during the ground battles.†In addition to the overhead view of the soldiers and surrounding areas, there are generally different animated cut scenes, and scenes of soldiers moving to position themselves, and of certain aspects of the battle. This animation gives you a great view of what is going on in the battle, bringing it more to life.

The interface for these battles gets a bit more complex as there are a variety of options for each soldier. During your turn you can position each of your soldiers and/or perform some action. Each option takes a certain amount of time, so you might be able to do only one thing with a soldier, say move a large distance to get into position or reload a weapon, or do more then one thing, such as move a short distance, then fire at an alien.

Moving the soldier is done by pointing the mouse to where you want the unit to move to. The game board is essentially a grid of squares, when you point the mouse, the grids near where it points light up. The grid dims a bit if it is outside the range of the soldier selected, otherwise, if you click on the space, the soldier will move to it, including an overhead animation of the movement. The default view of the battle scene is above and just behind the squad of soldiers. Using computer keys, you can move the location of your view point, realizing that alien units that havenít been discovered by your soldiers wonít be visible to you.

Obviously, there are tactics to moving your fighting units. Finding cover is always important, but not knowing where the alien units are, you might choose a position that provides cover in one direction, but exposes your units to aliens in another. Each soldier unit has a number of icons/information bars associated with it, indicating health, number of bullets/firings left, as well as how many of the known aliens are in their targeting ability. When you choose to fire at an alien, the percent chance to hit from the soldier's position is shown. When more then one alien can be targeted, you can choose which is the best for your tactical consideration.†

Obviously, there are a variety of reasons for moving your soldiers in many different ways. Since some missions require the capture of an alien unit, you might want to maneuver your soldiers to position the one with the stun gun near the capture target, while obliterating the other alien units. Often it is just more fun to move to destroy them all.

Many things can happen during battles, some not good for your troops. Aliens with flying capability might move up to a strategically better position. One of your rookies might panic, because of bad positioning or just bad luck. A position you move to might prove to either totally expose your soldier, or pin them down so they cannot move. Other members of the party will need to act to resolve these issues.

While all this might seem to make XCOM a tough and complex game, it really isnít. I found the interface to be relatively easy to use, and very intuitive. While it can be tough trying to figure out all the best things to do to run XCOM efficiently, there isnít really a wrong way to do it. Luckily, it is just a game, so if you donít do well in one game, you can always go back and try something different next time. Thatís what games are all about. Heck, one could even make believe they are an alien plant with the goal of subverting XCOMÖ.

While I had the opportunity to play with a standalone version of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this game can also be acquired via Steam. There you can brag about your conquests and share game play ideas with your friends. There is also a multiplayer aspect of XCOM where you take a squad of soldiers and pit your skills against another player. Being on Steam is a good way to find many opponents.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is an excellent and very entertaining game. It offers terrific graphics and a fun but perhaps time consuming game play. It can be easily played as a total immersion game but is also quite fun when played casually. Definitely a game worth spending your money on!


ē Excellent ground battle action and graphics
ē Very entertaining


ē Air battles were a bit lax
ē†Sink or swim learning

XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Elite Edition
Mac Version: Feral Interactive
Buy XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Elite Edition now at MacGameStore.com


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