View Full Version : Skybuck's review of X-Com Enemy Unknown (2012) (turn based strategy game)

Skybuck Flying[_7_]
October 14th 12, 12:27 AM

Yesterday I finished the single player campaign of X-Com. I also played some
multiplayer which works of LAN as well.

The game is enjoyable, graphically, musically and sound effects-wise, as
well as story-wise which is told via research text, speech, and mission
speech, and special mission events.

Even at 1280x720 the game still looks very good and plays smooth/well, there
are some hick ups here and there with scenes and cut scenes but the gameplay
itself is pretty smooth on a passively cooled asus gt 520 graphics card
(dx11 card).

I had a whole lot of fun playing this game and that's what gaming is mostly
about having fun. I pretty much smiled through the entire experience. Seeing
a remake of this game after 18 years or something was definetly big fun.

The multiplayer which I have only played 3 times so far also seems very cool
and pretty deserves some more play to experience it some more... however
strategy-wise it will have to compete with playing time for Company of
Heroes and maybe other strategy games in the future ;)

Now it's time to be critical because there are some issues with the game
which might be prevented or fixed in the future and needs further thought:

1. Sometimes the floors, ceilings or walls do not show, when the player does
want to see them. The remake tries to do this automatically while the
original had manual buttons to do this. Dungeon Siege had much better
see-through-walls at the correct moments, so x-com remake is lagging/under
performing technically in this regards, perhaps a limitation/problem with
unreal engine, or perhaps programmers not as good. My recommendation for a
fix/patch for X-Com would be to add manual buttons to do this, this would
hopefully work a bit better.

The scroll wheel can be used to try and scroll these floors up and down, but
doesn't really work that well, it's kind of confusing, there is no idea on
what floor one currently is at, the original had 1,2,3,4 for this or so,
which was more clear.
The scroll wheel must also be pressed to zoom out/zoom in, this double
functionality to a single control is confusing.

2. The hit detection is definetly not perfect in multiple ways, sometimes
the aliens shoot through big rocks, or maybe even walls, as well as player
controlled units, sometimes walls blow away though, the units can also not
hit each other, which remains somewhat debateble if this is realistic or
not. At least for the most part when it comes to rockets, and lasers and
plasma it works 90% of the time so that's ok but should still have been
better ;) maybe this can still be fixed in a patch in the future when
perhaps more processing power is available or whatever is holding back
perfect hit detection.

3. Arc-of-Sight as I shall call it is gone. Perhaps this makes the game less
frustrating then the original, but certainly also less paranoya... In the
original one had to watch each other's backs and flanks all the time,
because the enemy could sneak up unto you... in this game it's pretty much
gone except for the fog of war... players will notice enemies coming from
all directions no matter what direction they are looking, this is definetly
not realistic, except for when they might hear their footsteps or so.
Perhaps the remake plays faster because of it, but it's somewhat of a shame
that it's gone because it could have probably made the game more
interesting/challenging/long term replay value or so... then again the game
is still enjoyable without it, but I wonder how much replay value there is,
multiplayer is probably were the replay value is at.

4. Enemy weapons always explode when enemies are killed ? WTF ?

5. Enemy weapons cannot be picked up from the ground, nor friendly weapons.

6. Cannot walk into and out of the airplane, why was this omitted ? perhaps
to prevent the single grenade from entering ? but that was kinda fun in the
original, why remove this experience ? kinda weird.

7. Time units are gone, instead there is a blue area where players can shoot
from, and a yellow area where players can only walk, there are exceptions
though depending on abilities, at the beginning when I first played this
game these exceptions and abilities and such confused me a little bit, but
it does get used to. Perhaps it makes playing the game faster, which I do
kinda like, but at the same time it takes away from personal abilities from
soldiers, and perhaps reduces tactical possibilities and diversity. None the
less the abilities also add tactical diversity so some was taken away to be
replaced with something new, all in all not to bad, it might make the game
easier to play for newbies. Then again having time units in classic mode
would have been appreciated, but it's not there.

8. Most of the time there is no battle scanner ? No mini map ? On some
missions sometimes there is ? Again inconsistency, this is very weird.

9. Rockets have a limited range, this is also kinda weird.

10. A flame thrower might have been cool to put stuff on fire ? :) It would
have been cool if buildings slowly burn out, I think the original might have
actually done this, the remake not really, so no active burning up of

11. Smoke only last for 1 friendly/1 enemy turn... and doesn't really spread
around like perhaps in original, perhaps in remake wind could have been
taken into account.

12. Light doesn't really play a roll in this game, flashlights and shooting
out lights and just damage lights might have been interesting.

13. No ship information is given, so it's not possible to tell how much
better the firestorm is compared to the interceptors, not sure if original
had this information.

14. Morale bars/information seems to be missing.

15. Body specific injuries are missing.

16. Cannot drag hurt or wounded soldiers to safety. This would have been

17. No remake of original music ??? I was kinda looking forward to hearing
that... there are some small little tunes, for example the psi lab tune
which reminds me of original, but that's about it or so.

18. Cannot see which armor and weapons each player has except for visual
appearance, this forces the player to do a lot of in and out of menus to
reallocate equipment and to get an overall view, this is quite bad and time

19. I wonder if the ghost armor might be overpowered for multiplayer, time
will tell, I already lost once to this armor, couldn't find it, now that I
have played with it in single player, I would definetly try an all-out-ghost
team to see how that works out, it even has a grappling hook to climb
buildings, definetly seems overpowered but ok, time will tell.

20. The plane flying back to base animations through the sky, lags and
stutters !? Perhaps the bink player uses some new sse(?) instruction set
which my processor (amd x2 3800+) does not have and it needs to fall back to
a general x86 code path ?!? Or perhaps the steamy distortion leads to bad
compressibility and it's an compression algorithm probably/weakness. Kinda
annoying/stupid but not too bad.

I am going to stop with my critique here, because from this short list it's
already obvious that this remake is not the ultimate remake which it could
have been, but that's ok. I am pretty sure that the developers put their
hearts and souls into it and moved mountains to get this game done, having
to recreate all those graphics in 3D must have been a luck of work, and
working with an unreal engine which was more or less ment for a shooter must
have also been somewhat akward here and there so still a job well done sort
of :)

So all I am saying for now is that a better remake can still be done/made.
Perhaps a sequel/follow up might be better, who knows ;)

For now I would also like to write some positive things about this game
which I really liked:

1. The voice of the mystique figure is very cool.

2. The ant-farm like approach is really cool and does a good job at telling
the story, this is a very big improvement over the original, though it did
take away the base defense mission which is another omission and kind of a
shame, because these missions were also pretty cool though perhaps a bit
frustrating so maybe that is one possible reason why it was removed, then
again, perhaps when building a 3D base, depth and width, height positions
can be specified by the player as well, so a 3D defense mission becomes
possible again.

So instead of an 2D ant-farm, next time make it a 3D ant farm ! ;) The
technology to do this is obviously present in the game in some kind of
form... make it transparent, and blue laser lines like... it doesn't have to
show much graphics when placing it... just a architectural model or so.

3. The situation room is cool.

4. The extra missions and countries asking for help is cool.

5. There was one country which pulled out: australia... unfortunately no
human vs human betrayal was involved, to bad... so I can't help but remain a
bit critical of this game but ok.

6. The AI was kinda ok.

7. The red bezerker was cool. (Though it just runs at enemies, it's seems
quite dumb but it looks cool, I was happy to see it, because the original
did not have red mutons but the intro did ?! ;) :))

Spoiler alert:

8. Even cooler are the red mutons, these do have fire arms and are quite a
bitch ! ;) :) which is a good things, these are probably the most
challenging enemies, together with the green mutons and sometimes

9. The firestorm and the sound it makes when it takes off, is simply

10. The alloy cannon shotgun is awesome, love it :)

11. The obscure voice story telling during the end mission was pretty cool,
though the end ethereals kinda sucked, I owned them easily ;) :) The
ethereals are disappointing me a bit, for such mystique powerfull looking
creatures they should have been more pesky and cunning and annoying but ok
;) :) I am pretty sure they will prove to be a bitch during multiplayer,
playing with one was quite fun !

12. I totally love the feel of blowing away aliens, thanks to the close up
shots ! ;) =D Oh yeah baby ! This is probably the best part of the game ! =D
LUV IT ! ;) =D

13. Love how the armor can be colored, I had a nice pink armor wearing
female which I kept alive during the game, it was supposed to be a medic but
she was assault and ending up being the best soldier I had, she owned
enemies with shotgun up close. I also created red medics, they usually ended
up dead for some reason... it's probably the loser effect: medics run to
losers/shot down falling heroes on the field and walk into a nasty situation
getting killed the same way. It sux to be a medic in general I guess lol,
always having to run into bad positions :) Note to self: never be a medic in
a real war lol ! ;) =D Though medics were nice in RTCW for the seal healing
ability but that's bs anyway hihi. Healing in general like that is bs anyway
but ok. My soldiers spent lots of time in infirmery/recovering.

14. End stats were kinda interesting to look at... sometimes I was wondering
a little bit about that.

I end with:

I tried classic/iron man for one mission to see if anything would be
different, so far it seems not except costs a bit higher maybe, and perhaps
alien ai a bit better, but gui and gameplay further stays the same it seems,
this is kinda boring, I was hoping for perhaps something, different, like a
classic gui and perhaps arc-of-sight, that would have definetly made me
re-play the single player. I might still replay the single player in iron
man just to experience the fall of heroes, the death of my players more

I already experience such feeling of unfortunate loss, when my solo going
female sniper was trying out the grapling armor for the second or third
time, she was close to getting the ghost armor which might have saved her,
but unfortunately for her it came to late. She ended up dead as follows: She
was walking across this big ufo where the red elite muton soldiers later
would appear for the first time, but anyway she was walking across the roof
of the ufo... and I need to scout what was beyond the roof in the back.. my
team was waiting for a recon, because they heard noises coming from it... So
I though ok: "I'll just move my sniper which is up on the roof, to the edge
of the roof to have elevation sight range or so, and see what's there..."
(I do wonder if sight range bonuses apply in this game like the original ? I
am not sure)... anyway... she walks up to the edge of the screen to discover
3 chrystalids ! And guess what... there was actually a ladder near the edge
of the roof... so the chrystalids, quickly climbed up to the roof, and RAPED
HER ! and she turned into a zombie ! LOL. There was little I could do, the
only soldier which might be able to do something is try and shoot a rocket
up there to take em out... but they would probably not have died and just
wounded my female soldier for nothing, so she ended up dead by the third
chrystalid that attacked her. I should probably have given her the extra
chrystalid skin protection, but ok. She had this nice yellow hair going
up... like the original game had a soldier like that... she had a nice
voice... though her posture was a bit weak... none the less, she saved many
of my soldiers, and sometimes she had to be saved as well, she was always
scouting, because I consider her to be the most worthless which might not
have been true... perhaps the heavy is the most worthless... but there was
something wrong with her... her abilities sucked... she could not fire her
sniper after moving... so she was also kinda annoying... I had to choose
between her/reloading/replaying and the ufo/resources. I choose the ufo
resources, and I choose to leave her dead and move on. Fortunately the next
battle I already got a new sniper, and this time I give it better abilities,
like firing after movement. This sniper was far better and I also gave him a
nice big fat plasma sniper rifle, that guy owned... also his free flanking
shots once he goes colonel is really awesome but again probably overpowered
for multiplayer, but that would be really laughable if a single sniper owns
the entire enemy team during multiplayer ! =D

Me looks forward to owning a few noobs in multiplayer with the sniper class
+ ghost armor ! ;) =D Though I am not sure if colonel abilities are enabled
in multiplayer, I think so though... since the ethereal also had all
abiliteis ? but that's an alien... hmmm... will have to play more
multiplayer to find out ! ;) Though I am pretty sure this ability is in
it... since I got owned by a single sniper.... he killed most of my guys...
it seemed to happen in 1 turn only... I had way more soldiers than the enemy
player... he only had 2, 1 ethereal and 1 sniper, but he still owned me
lol... I was playing with lag/high graphics/bad team at the time... just to
test if the game worked in multiplayer but still... already an example of
what is too come in multiplayer ! ;) =D Some guys already seemed to play
quite well in multiplayer, only a few days after the game was released ! ;)
Gjez... or maybe it was just their better graphics setting and my graphics
setting sucking... and not taking the time for a proper team, though I also
hadn't finished the game yet, and maybe they did. I definetly helps
finishing the single player before doing multiplayer, because only in single
player is everything explained, like weapons and abilities, it will make
you/one understand the weapons and their capabilities and player
capabilities much better and appreciate their strengths and know how to use
them (properly) ! ;) =D

Ok folks, I now ultimately end with the ultimate conclusion about this game:

1. Graphically it's better to a certain extend. (I do miss the x-com
uniforms with logos on them, then again maybe those greyish/noobies uniforms
would have been boring... :))

2. Sound effects wise it's pretty cool.

3. Music is also very suiting. I do hope to find some x-com remake music on
the internet somewhere... I am not sure but the head composer seems to be:
Michael McCann... I will google him later on and see if I can find some more
x-com remake music ;) :)

4. Gameplay/game engine is mostly smooth and plays nice, it's enjoyable.

5. Story telling is nicely done.

From the critique you can already tell, it's not the ultimate remake or
extension... but it's still pretty good, and definetly enjoyable !

But because of some bugs it doesn't get a 10 it must be a 9 at most... but
there are also some obmissions/missing things and for that I will have to
subtract another point, so it goes down to an 8. But because the game was so
much fun I give it another half point.

So it ends up being an 8.5 !

So I give it a lower score than some websites do... I have seen some 9.5's
here and there... but I don't think it should be a 9.5 when you compare it
to the original... the original was a big fat 10. This game can only be a
8.5 feature wise.

So there ya go.

Skybuck ! =D

Skybuck Flying[_7_]
October 16th 12, 06:01 AM
For a tactical/strategical game I am going to have to downgrade this game to
a mere 7 maybe even a 6.

The game makes some obvious tactical blunders like:

1. Revealing the points the player allocated to units, this leaks
information about his choices, a big blunder indeed.

2. Doors opening/closing. (ufo2000 had this, or original had this, which is
kinda funny, but kinda sux)

3. Hearing foot steps might also be added to this list, especially if they
inside a house or around the corner, not every realistic.

My neighbours leave their homes, but I rarely hear their foot steps when I
am inside, so not realistic at all.

People with good surround sound might benefit from this "mistake".

4. Also the maps are quite small, a bit boring.

5. Replay value is less than thought, the aliens appears in the exact same
place in single player as far as I know, ok, maybe not, but still...

After only a few days it seems I am starting to get bored with it. Though I
might give multiplayer a few more chances.

6. It seems somewhat unbalanced. Players can surprise each other with very
strong builds. Like a very strong stone beating a sciccor.

There is no way a player can recover from a unlucky choice. Thus it seems
the multiplayer game is reduced to a badly done gambling game <- no new
gamble can be made, quite bad really.