XCOM: Enemy Within Review
publisher: 2K Games
developer: Firaxis Games
|ESRB rating: RP
release date: Nov 12, 13
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In the realm of strategy games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown was like a ray of welcome sunshine after years of fog and gay smog (yep, that’s how I see the industry these days – fog and gay smog). Firaxis did a fine job on that game, no question about it. Even so, the developers could’ve done a few things differently to improve the overall experience. Features like troop customization and the cool turn-based gameplay simply hit the spot. The storyline and the in-game characters were the only elements Firaxis should’ve paid more attention to. To be fair though, the gameplay mechanics were more than adequate to keep you going.
XCOM: Enemy Within is no ordinary expansion pack that just tosses a few new missions into the experience. It’s actually quite an elaborate addition to the original game. You are part of the XCOM project (short Extraterrestrial Combat Unit) and you’ll be coordinating the fight against the worldwide alien threat. As you lead a squad of elite soldiers against the aliens, you’ll discover that the invaders wield technology and weaponry that’s far more advanced that anything mankind has ever built. Most of your tasks are financed and supervised by the so-called Council of Nations, which poured massive recourses to create XCOM, so you better not disappoint them.
This fountain shall burn!
Mmmm... nice Mech. Sorry, MEC.
Anyone who’s played Enemy Unknown will recognize the premise. After the first few missions, you sort of begin to wonder if Firaxis have changed anything at all. One of the first things you’ll notice is the inclusion of Meld, a brand new invaluable resource that’s essential for transhumant technologies. To make things a bit clearer, Meld is scattered throughout maps and you can collect them before you complete your task. The catch is that any Meld on the map has to be collected before a specific amount of time passes. So, you need to calculate if there’s going to be enough turns to take out foes and grab the Meld at the same time before your team is extracted.
Meld actually opens the door to a terrific new addition to XCOM. It’s the main resource for upgrading soldiers with genetic and mechanized enhancements. Gene mods are on offer to improve eye sight, speed, strength and other attributes. The other option is to turn your soldiers into real killing machines – i.e. MEC units (or a type of Mech unit, if you will). Both variants make for significant advantages on the battlefield. Genetically enhanced soldiers now perform stunts and kills, which regular soldiers could never pull off. MECs are admirably resilient and can stand against the biggest alien foes. They are a type of tank unit that’s ideal for the frontline, but can also provide additional support for troops with healing and repairing abilities.
The more you play Enemy Within, the more you’ll get to know how much effort went into polishing and improving the original game. The game is twice as challenging and twice as fun. Aliens aren’t the only danger this time. Amidst all the chaos, XCOM must also face the EXALT, a secret paramilitary organization that utilizes alien technology to control others. Their goal is to dominate the world, of course, so you will have to take them out any way you can before they before they become a serious threat. EXALT’s cells are located on various spots across the globe and are usually well-hidden. Individual troops can be sent on Covert Missions to gather intel on EXALT, which would hopefully lead you to the location of the organization’s headquarters. This is easier said than done, so you’ll have to go through a lot of missions before discovering the location the HQ. You may raid a country to discover the location of the enemy base, but if you’re wrong that country will to withdraw from the council and won’t support the XCOM project.
An exceptionally well-polished add-on with terrific new missions, and numerous new features, enhances everything that was great about the original;
The story's still a bit weak. I really don't mind anything else, now will you let me play in peace.