Falling Skies: The Game Preview: Like XCOM, but probably not as great
Falling Skies on TNT is a fairly entertaining show. Granted, I've only watched bits and pieces of it, but I dug what I saw. That's why I was kind of curious to check out the upcoming Falling Skies: The Game at the Little Orbit meeting room at E3. I say “kind of” because I never really have high hopes for licensed cash grabs like this. Still, the fact that the game is being touted as an XCOM-inspired strategy title is kind of neat.
You've got multiple classes, such as fighters, berserkers, and so on, and each of these can be utilized to take down alien armies. Anyone who's familiar with the show will likely know that you're tasked with trying to overthrow your extraterrestrial aggressors who've managed to successfully invade the planet. That's pretty much the goal here, and it could really go either way as far as quality is concerned.
Battles are turn-based, letting you select from a number of actions for your squad to carry out. You have a designated amount of space on the grid where you can move your units. Get close enough to the aliens and you'll be able to unleash attacks on the opposition. You can tactically place your units behind cover, garnering them some protection from enemy fire. It's suggested that you do, too, as losing a unit in battle means you'll never see him or her again.
Obviously, anyone who's played XCOM: Enemy Unknown will realize how familiar all of this sounds. Falling Skies doesn't hold back, and it wears its XCOM influence like a badge of honor, boastfully “borrowing” elements from the popular Firaxis-developed game. Whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen, as I didn't actually get any hands-on time with the game.
One thing I could clearly see without having to play this licensed title was just how ugly it looks. No, graphics aren't everything, but you'd think the developer would try to at least make Falling Skies look somewhat decent. I'm not asking for a graphical masterpiece or technical beast — but is it too much to ask to have a few hi-res textures, interesting character models, and nice environments? Seriously, this game looks heinous.
Actual cast members from the television show will lend their voice talents to the game. That's at least good to know. Hopefully they deliver a solid overall performance. It'd be a shame for these actors and actresses to sound dull and uninterested in the project. But hey, if that's the case, the sound design will definitely match the graphics.
A total of 10 main story missions will make up Falling Skies. I was told that these can take anywhere between 20 minutes and one hour to complete. Additionally, 30 side missions will give you more to do in the game. You can also customize your characters and beef them up with stronger weapons and abilities.
To be fair, Falling Skies is at least emulating a highly successful title. Whether that shameless inspiration will result in a better game is highly doubtful. It could be a decent — hell, maybe even solid — experience. Or it could very well fail if past trends in these types of cash-ins are any indication. We'll know for sure when Falling Skies hits the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii U this September.
Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.