The story of XCOM follows an alien invasion of Earth. The player is a commander of the newly formed XCOM organisation tasked to eliminate the alien threat. Players oversee the XCOM command centre and send troops out to locations all over the globe to fight the alien invasion.
There are two completely separate aspects to the gameplay. The first is a resource management game. As the commander, players have to manage the resources at their disposal to strengthen and expand the XCOM headquarters. This isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Cash, engineering, personal and power requirements must be balanced against the need to build satellites, hire more troops and develop better weapons and armour. The player also has to manage the panic level of every allied country by responding to alien incursions with a limited set of soldiers. The game is finely balanced and always makes the player feel like there aren’t enough resources to do what needs to be done.
Once players are ready, they scan the planet for alien activity to find a mission and send their troops to eliminate the threat. In typical turn-based gameplay, the combat takes place on a grid. The player starts off with four soldiers and moves each soldier in turn. Once engaged with the baddies, players can either fire their weapons or perform special class-based moves. At the end of the round, the baddies have the same opportunity to move or attack the player directly. Combat ends with either party completely eliminated.
There is little focus on graphics or even story, but the game more than compensates with great turn-based gameplay. While some might find the lack of fluid action a huge deterrent, I found the difficulty of the combat and the high of etching out a victory move-by-move quite exhilarating. It is by far one of the most additive games of the year.
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