E3 2010: XCOM Is a "Strategic Shooter" in Name Only

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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E3 2010: XCOM Is a "Strategic Shooter" in Name Only



XCOM is big on 50s flavor, but where's the strategy?

For many, the title X-COM brings back fond memories of tactical turn-based strategy. 2K Marin's reboot of the franchise is gunning for a more visceral first-person experience. In a room decked out with many 1950s stereotypes of wholesomeness and Donna Reed-style décor, producer Drew Smith and designer Harvey Whitney showed us what this new XCOM is all about.

You play as William Carter, a special agent in charge of a secret organization called XCOM. Carter is the guy who discovered an alien artifact that portended the invasion that's now taking place, and instigated the creation of XCOM. The demo began by taking us into the base of operations which was hidden in a non-descript airplane hangar. The flavor of the 50s is in abundance, with agents quipping as Carter walks by, "I don't like the feeling that someone's looking up my wazoo with a microscope, you know what I'm saying?" Only a clean-cut agent from that age would use a word like "wazoo" and actually mean it.

At the comm center is a map of the United States where all of the information gleaned from radio and police broadcasts is filtered for possible alien activity. The map shows possible missions that you can undertake, from helping a woman's 911 (did they have 911 in the 50s?) distress call to ways to gain money or Elerium. "Elerium is an alien resource that we need to keep XCOM going," says Smith. "We can also go collect money, we can go do research, etc. You should note that when you pick a mission, you're doing something at the potential sacrifice of another mission. If we take, for example, the California mission, then the Montana or Oklahoma missions may not be available when you come back." I suppose that this is a strategic decision but it feels like the player will be missing out on content instead of feeling that they are making a strong choice.

The demo went with the woman's distress call in California, but first we have to pick up some new tech gizmos. A scientist named Mal has been using the alien artifact that Carter found, along with Elerium, to make weapons that use the alien's tech against them. We grabbed a glass vial filled with parts of a black blob (an enemy that you encounter in the game). This "blob-otov cocktail" bursts into flame when it's thrown, which Mal demonstrates for us. In a nice departure, Mal is a Buddy Holly bespectacled 50s greaser, instead of the standard Q (from Bond movies) clone.

The mission sent us to a 50s neighborhood, and we tracked a blob trail into a house. Here, the gameplay devolved into your standard shooter. Carter and his agents blasted away at a series of creepy black blobs with shotguns and blobotovs. Another weapon was showcased, the lightning gun, but it didn't seem terribly effective against the aliens. The woman saved, the agents needed to make their way back to the car to get back to base. Unfortunately, a huge alien disturbance showed up in the sky and formed a circle of rock which sent rays at us that vaporized everything in the beam. Clearly, Carter is going to need some bigger guns.

The new XCOM from 2K Marin is big on 50s flavor, but the shooter gameplay feels like much of what you've played before. Here's hoping that when the game comes out (slated for 2011), there's more of the strategy that you would expect from the successor to the X-COM that many gamers loved.

Keep track of all our E3 2010 coverage here [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/conferences/e32010].

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Deofuta

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Nov 10, 2009
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Well, it sounds interesting as a game, but it aint no XCOM

Should have just gone with a new IP, because you could even say it is 'XCOM' in name only, well apart from setting and such.
 

Weaver

Overcaffeinated
Apr 28, 2008
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I still have absolutely nothing good to say about this game.
*zips mouth*
 
Apr 28, 2008
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I'll try to keep this nice and, well nice.

If your going to make an XCOM game and call it strategic, you better make it a damn XCOM game and make it strategic.

Choosing what alien weapon to use and when isn't going to cut it.
 

TheDist

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Mar 29, 2010
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I just feel very disappointed. I love Xcom ufo defence and if they had made it an fps set in that "timeframe" a quasi futuristic 1999, I think I would have been sold (well ok maybe not sold, just not massivly as disappointed and nerd raging as I am now)

Alas, 'tis not to be it would seem.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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There's one way to save this totally. All it takes is a name change and a few small graphical alterations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It Came From The Desert 3

Now that would sell like hotcakes.
 

GothmogII

Possessor Of Hats
Apr 6, 2008
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L...let's just wait and se...s....see? Oh god, it's no use, this is just terrible news. D:
 

Loonerinoes

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Apr 9, 2009
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Consider my childhood memories raped after reading this review.

I'll stop right there before I go off into a deeper rant. <.<
 

Dogstile

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Jan 17, 2009
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I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?
 

GothmogII

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Apr 6, 2008
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dogstile said:
I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?
You did watch the trailer didn't you? It really isn't, remove the name and there is quite literally no relation other than: Aliens invading.
 

Kojiro ftt

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Apr 1, 2009
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Fuck this game. Fuck 2K for using the XCOM name. They should sell the rights to someone who has some fucking respect for the franchise.
 
Feb 13, 2008
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dogstile said:
I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?
If nothing else, X-Com was founded in 1999. If Elerium et. al was discovered 50 years hence, then it would require a world rewrite, not to mention concepts like Eurasia. It Came from the Desert, Zombies Ate My Neighbours, and even Duke Nukem would work with this, but not X-Com.
 

Skoldpadda

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Jan 13, 2010
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Damn. This might really be a solid game on its own, and if so, I'll play it.

But abusing the XCOM-name like this is a really cheap move. Not cool.
 

Jared

The British Paladin
Jul 14, 2009
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Ill on fence about it...sounds like it will be a good shooter but...I'm syil going to wait on more
 

Greg Tito

PR for Dungeons & Dragons
Sep 29, 2005
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Ah dammit. Another first person.

Not had enough of those?

As someone who massively enjoyed the original games, it depresses me that someone who probably loves the game as much as I do manages to screw it up this badly.

Not hoping for much.
 

More Fun To Compute

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Nov 18, 2008
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An action game inspired by a strategy game rather than a strategy/action hybrid game? Sounds like a homoeopathic remedy in game form.
 

obisean

May the Force Be With Me
Feb 3, 2009
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There is a good reason why this game is first person, and it actually makes sense:

RTS doesn't work well on consoles.

Just cause Bethesda pulled off Fallout from an RTS (technically) to a console friendly FPS, doesn't mean every game is meant to be one. I can't wait for the Civ FPS.