Mobile test

Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Jamie84303

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XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN Review

Story - 88%
Gameplay - 90%
Longevity - 92%
Innovation - 94%

Summary: A massive benchmark port, adapted for iOS devices.

92%

Fantastic!


3.23 Gigabytes! Is everything about this title massive? 2KGames bring XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN to iOS!

Never did get round to playing a console, or PC version. Vaguely recall seeing the boxart, but there was a time when all I seemed to play was Call of Duty and Angry Birds! I can only assume, it was around then, this award-winning GOTY slipped me by. So (pro), I get to share my review of XCOM as a standalone, not a port. (Con), I have no other version to compare it to. Whether these are actually good or bad things, I’m not sure. Maybe at a later date, I can get round to playing the game on a different platform. Then at least update this review to make a comparison.

So, what is XCOM? Well, set in the seemingly not too distant future, Aliens have invaded Earth and so international governments have come together to create an elite paramilitary organisation, XCOM. As Commander, you are bestowed with the incomprehensible task of defending our planet. You must build and maintain a fully operational base and take command of troops on the battlefield against an unknown enemy. With the world on your shoulders, the human races’ fate is literally in your hands.

Part turn-based tactical RPG, part time management and one heck of story. I was really taken aback with this game. It’s like nothing I’ve ever played on a touch screen device before.

Upon launching the application, you are treated to a dramatic action-packed cinematic intro. Giving you a taste of whats to come. Where as the video did have the ‘wow’ factor, I felt it would’ve been preferable to be able to skip it on future plays. I immediately thought Gears of War and Halo. Later, even Alien and Starship Troopers. Not to take anything away from the games uniqueness, it is very much it’s own everything. The sci-fi inspirations are just noticeable.

During my first go of ENEMY UNKNOWN. Given the price, I did set my expectations pretty high.
Hoping I was going to enjoy every spent penny. Yet, I couldn’t help get that niggling thought out of the back of my mind. Was this game going to be worth it’s weight? Or sadly, reveal itself to be another half-hearted, rushed port by a big developer and publisher? Letting the brand work it’s black magic.

Only a matter of minutes in, after being genuinely impressed by the intro and cutscenes. The console quality graphics were present, coupled with decent audio, ( ambient soundtrack and above par voice acting. ) With which my only qualm was: Some of the soldiers are from different countries. Yet they all have American accents? Nevertheless, I began feeling a little reassurance that this could indeed be a premium title and that maybe, I was in for a treat.

Given the above, my next thought was how good XCOM would look via Airplay. Then I remembered, that’s actually not what this is about. This is about taking a home console/PC game and making it portable, cutting as few corners as possible.

Due to the fact, I don’t think I’ve played a turn-based strategy RPG since one of the early Final Fantasies. I welcomed the tutorial with open arms and was thankful it progressed with the story.
I struggled a couple of times, but for the most part, all is explained well. Anything else you can figure or find out. Navigating and interacting worked well ninety-nine percent of the time. The odd awkward movements and camera angle glitches, but you get them with the best of games. I don’t mean to sound like I’m stating the obvious here, but games like this were made for touch screens. Yes,  it was adapted especially, but everything is laid out neatly on screen and once you become familiar with the icons, layout and actions, it feels so natural.

No sugar coating here! When one of your soldiers die, they die. No extra lives, no continues, no nothing. From your very first mission when you are introduced to Central Officer Bradford. Who appears to have Vulcan emotions …exactly. The harsh reality of what is occurring sets in and the only emotions being played with here, are yours. You have choices to make, decisions to take, both tactically and morally. Even after only your first mission, are you less advised about what to do on the battleground ,and soon your hand is no longer held at all. Leaving it up to you alone, to outwit the increasingly smart AI.

Due to the snowballing difficulty level of ENEMY UNKNOWN.You will no doubt take advantage of the save game slots. XCOM also has iCloud backup, which is a nice feature I hope more developers adopt in the future.

The turn-based strategies you use to complete missions will be familiar to those of the genre. They play a vital, but comparably small part in the story. Yes, you will answer distress calls of alien abductions and investigate crash sites. However, most of your work is done from HQ. Your troops get promoted by how well they performed in their previous mission. Each promotion unlocks new abilities. Of which you have a choice. You decide who fights, what their loadout is, as well as customisation options. Soldiers also need hiring and training. When your men and women get hurt, or die and heroes will fall, you will need replacements.

After each mission, you will recover alien specimens and technology. Interrogations can be made, autopsies ordered and research undertaken. These are among many of the tough decisions you will encounter throughout the game. For however you decide, determines how the game will play out and ultimately end.

Time management. Staff are awarded with some missions but the rest is part of your workload. You have a base to run. Extraterrestrial weapons and armour can also be researched, maybe leading to it’s production and maufacture. Monitoring the enemy is vital, so you must setup satellite uplinks around the globe to enable ufo sighting reports. Then send ships up to shoot them down when needed. Distress calls appear to come in threes. Where will you protect? Who will you sacrifice? Your base will eventually need expanding to make room for more workshops, laboratories and the like. Finances are to be managed wisely. What will you build first? What military equipment is needed? What are your priorities?

It can all become a little overwhelming. Especially as you can really become involved with the story, even attached to the characters. The best advice I can give is, take your time and think about every move you make. This is not some mindlessly addictive quickplay mobile game. The game can end in two possible ways. Upon completion ( no spoilers here ), or upon failure. 16 nations united to form XCOM. Lose eight of them and it’s game over. Nations are lost, when they pull out. They pull out when their nations’ panic level is at maximum and they have not been supplied with a satellite, or/and given help. It’s up to you to try your upmost to not let that happen, yet you can’t be everywhere at once. Panic levels rise and fall according to where you help and where you don’t.

Not that this game can’t be enjoyable. It is, it just draws you in. Makes you think, makes you feel. I’ve been madly addicted to many iOS games, but I don’t ever recall actually getting lost in one like some of my favourite console games.

There is Game Center integration with leaderboards and 48 achievements to unlock. Setting toggles are also present, as is an option to sign-up to my2K. Doing so, you are awarded with four XCOM HEROES to play as. Each with what look to be extremely beneficial abilities.

Now the question many want answering is: Is XCOM ENEMY UNKNOWN on iOS worth the unusually high £13.99 price tag? Well, that’s up to you. Have you already played the game on another platform and would like a portable copy? Do you like turn-based strategy games and so may be interested? Well, chances are if you’re reading this, you are, yet undecided. Here is some more information you may be interested in;

It is a console quality game made portable. A PC game in your pocket.

This is a universal application.

Contains no ads or iaps.

There are two main options on the main title screen. One is Resume Game ( obviously only highlighted when applicable. ) The other is Single Player. To me, this suggests a Multiplayer update may be coming. Otherwise, why not just use Start Game?

The replayability value: There are countless hours of gameplay to be had, even if you only play this game through once. However, it’s one of those games, you will most likely come back to again and again. To either up the difficulty level, or maybe try different tactics?

If this game was on a portable handheld gaming device, it would cost substantially more.

It is a battery drainer and sometimes your device may get warm. This has become a common occurrence with iOS devices running graphic intensive games such as this. The processors take a hammering and the poor battery life is drained significantly quicker than usual. As I’ve recommended in another review. Just keep your battery backup case, or charger close!

Where as right now, this game is possibly unique, as regards port quality and cost. If developers continue to bring games of this stature to the App Store. I can see the prices being a little more expensive, as to what we are normally used to. I’m just saying, it may be something to expect. Ok, the iPhone, iPod, iPad and iPad mini are not handheld gaming consoles. They are so much more. With optional Bluetooth controllers coming soon and more developers supporting them. If the games continue to improve. They may even end up competing with the 3DS and PSVita and yet will still be more affordable. No doubt, there will be the copycats trying to cash in on the success of XCOM. I guess it’s up to ourselves to kindly inform each other of what’s worth buying and what to avoid. In this instance, personally, I was pleasantly surprised and glad I didn’t miss this game the second time round. I hope this evaluated review has been informative enough to help you make up your own mind.

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