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XCOM: Enemy Unknown demo preview

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Posted by: Andrew Clouther

I assure you it’s not 1994.  However XCOM is back with Enemy Unknown.  This tactical role playing game combines all the nostalgia from 1994 with modern technology and graphics from 2012 to make one potentially amazing game.  Now that the demo is out, I was able to download that game, play around with it, and spend an enjoyable hour getting my Earth defense on.  I played the demo via Steam.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown takes place at the start of an invasion by aliens.  You, as the commander of a secret world anti alien alliance organization, must defend the Earth from being conquered by the extraterrestrial threat.  The demo does an excellent job of walking players through a scenario battle, spoon feeding players every step of the way.  I enjoy the turn based tactical RPG genre, but for someone new to the genre I feel the tutorial does an excellent job catching you up to speed.

Besides special moves, for the most part your team members can move and take an action.  This can translate to double moving, moving then firing, firing then moving, doing a single special move, throw a grenade, reloading, using a med kit, etc.  The demo was limited in what you could do as far as team variety.  Your character can silently open a door or window or just charge through them depending on the situation.  You’re always going to want to take cover and flank you foes.       

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While the game seems to focus on combat at first glance, the true RPG magic happens behind the curtain – at your base of operations.  XCOM uses an ‘ant farm’ style of customizing your HQ.  Here you can choose the names and nick names of your squad member, customize their look, change their layout, select what abilities they have, choose what research project to work on, which new room to add to your HQ, and where you go to get dispatched on your missions.  You will have to make hard decisions about what countries to save; each with rewards and consequences.        

The last mission of the demo gives you free reign in a fairly simple mission.  It gives you a good squad but you can choose who goes.  The game stresses safety and wise tactical decisions.  If you leave a member alone or without cover, they will get killed.  A dead character is dead – that’s it.  Support characters can revive but certain aliens will outright kill or transform you.  Everything you do counts. 

Pick up this demo today.  I went from this game barely being on my radar to being pretty enthralled within the last few weeks.  The game official comes out October 9th.  That’s only a fortnight away.    

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ

Tags: XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM, demo, RPG, tactical

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