Why I Think XCOM Will Suck

By Alec Meer on June 16th, 2010 at 7:00 am.

I could have gone for “Why I think XCOM will disappoint me” or “What I thought about the demo I saw in March”, but when in Rome… That said, it being or not being shit isn’t the issue here, is it? Not being the same genre is why people are heartbroken. Oh, I’m just asking for trouble with this post. I’m also being totally fucking honest with you.

I’ve told you what’s in it, and I’ve told you what the developers say it is. Here’s what I think about what I’ve seen so far.

I think a lot of things.

It may turn out okay. It may turn out great. It may evoke X-COM in ways we haven’t imagined, or it may just be a decent FPS in its own right. You’ll see why I think that in the post above this. But, as a long-standing and true-blue fan of the original X-COM, here’s why I’m very worried, and even a little upset.

Go list.

  • It’s a first-person shooter. It doesn’t matter how scary, how tense, how methodical or even how smart it is. It’s abandoning the one thing that really makes X-COM X-COM: a beautiful mish-mash of strategy, management and roleplaying that gaming as a whole has almost abandoned. It abandoned it because it couldn’t do it better. That XCOM isn’t even trying to do it, that it thinks being a first-person shooter is the only way to get people’s attention, is pathetic. That X-COM was about aliens and Cydonia and whatnot was always academic – this was a game that walked tall thanks to its mechanics, not thanks to its lore. Without those mechanics, it’s simply not X-COM.

    This isn’t just about the misappropriation of a name. It’s about being denied our last-best hope of someone throwing serious money at a game that plays anything like X-COM. Strategy is diminishing – guarded, certainly, by the likes of Stardock, Paradox and Firaxis, but the genre has not been accorded due respect by most major publishers. Every link to the past – and to a future we deserve – we lose hurts. Hurts like hell.

  • It’s not squad-based. At least, the developers won’t say that it is, and the backup Agents on show so far appear to be mute robo-men. There’s an enormous difference between preventing the end of the world by pulling the strings, and preventing the end of the world by pulling a trigger. It’s the same old lone superhero fantasy we’ve played a thousand times.
  • The setting’s inappropriate. Key to X-COM was that humanity was technologically evolved enough that it had a hope of fending off an alien invasion, and that it was already prepared. 50s shotguns and homemade incendiary grenades just seem pitiful, and could be incredibly incongruous when the made-up tech lands in your hands. Having a plasma-death-mega-rifle all of a sudden will feel like coincidence, not like science.
  • There’s a base, but it looks to be fixed and static, and about having conversations with NPCs rather than orchestrating the human resistance via business, strategy, military might and floor-planning. If it’s just a glorified mission selector and exposition spouter, it’s going to be deeply unsatisfying.
  • It seems to have been made to attract the interest of fans, rather than to please the fans. There’s no real reason why it had to be called XCOM. Bioshock wasn’t called SystemShock, after all.
  • The developers are making bold promises without providing detail, and refusing to be drawn on most important topics. Perhaps this is intended to inspire curiosity and excitement, but giving so little to back up their claims scarely inspires the confidence of people who want a game that feels like X-COM.
  • C’mon, those Blob things! They’re just shapeless nothings. They’re not iconic, they’re not very threatening, and they look like a graphical glitch.
  • It’s from the makers of Bioshock, a game that, despite doing some interesting things, involved a whole lot of compromises and unfulfilled promises. There may have been a lot of hysteria in the backlash, but it was for good reason – the game wasn’t what we were told it was going to be. While they’re doubtless very talented individuals, these guys have a history of taking revered PC games – i.e. System Shock – and ripping out half their guts in the name of making a mainstream hit. Almost any other developer would have upset X-COM fans less.
  • I haven’t played it, or seen anywhere near enough to know for anything like sure that it will live up to X-COM.

, .

78 Comments »

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  1. YOUREWRONGDUDE says:

    “It’s from the makers of Bioshock”

    Well no. It’s the team who have made tribe vengeance and swat 4, not the one who have made bioshock.

    And globally, i think you’re wrong.

    • poop says:

      you know there is something wrong with the world when the developers of tons of classic game are rebranded as developers who’s only game has been an incredibly derirative sequel

      and when they are put to work on XCOM, of course

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      well they were the tech team on bioshock weren’t they

    • zaphod42 says:

      No Ken Levine = NOT developers of Bioshock.

  2. 18Rabbit says:

    I have loved all of the XCOM strategy games but this game so far has zero interest for me other than an the same level of interest that a large wreck on the freeway has, I want to see the carnage of their failure. They really should have saved their money on buying the brand name, those who love XCOM know that this is NOT it, and those that don’t know what the hell it is have no recognition of the name.

    • jsdn says:

      It looks like it will pay off. Look at how much press they’re getting on RPS alone. Even if the game turns out to be a complete failure to its title, the important thing is that it will make a lot of money.

  3. Eightball says:

    Lets nail this 95 theses style to 2K Marin’s office doors.

  4. Spacewalk says:

    It’s totally going to suck, it’s not influenced by anything from Image Comics.

    • Christian O. says:

      Not enough pouches! And it needs a sword. Like a DUAL-SWORD-IN-ONE! And I can still see their feet!

  5. MadMatty says:

    I was thinking a bit about “It Came from the Desert” by cinemaware- which could be fun, only the black dot monsters looks a bit rubbish i think… i´d prefer the old xcom aliens

    • MadMatty says:

      yeah ok ive changed my mind on the blobs- theyre cool.
      they can come round for a few beers.

  6. faelnor says:

    I think it will suck only because the shooting bits look boring. I don’t care about the title. I don’t care about continuity. Like DX3, there are worse things than continuity to worry about right now.

    • faelnor says:

      the “gameplay”, if you will

    • snv says:

      But as Alec nailed with the first bullet: a game is defined by its gameplay, not by the setting tacked on.
      And this game will have a different gameplay, and therefore will be a completely unrelated game to the X-Coms.

      Its like taking some (imaginary) game with dices and calling it related to chess because it also has the colors black and white and also knights.

  7. IncredibleBulk92 says:

    Alternate title “Why XCOM isn’t UFO Defence”. While I understand everyones disapointment that this isn’t just a remake of the original game going as far as to write an article about it potentially sucking doesn’t seem justified. I’ll read your second post later but this just read like any Internet man forum posts.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Read the second post. The title’s pretty obvious, man.

    • Bhazor says:

      You’re not saying why it might suck you’re just saying why Xcom isn’t like X-Com. The only relevant point you raise is the one about the PR men not going into specifics to back up their grandiose claims. Everything else in the article is just “Game A had features XYZ Game B doesn’t > therefore game B is going to be rubbish”. A bit like comparing say Portal to Half Life 2 and saying Portal doesn’t have the weapons or enemies of Half Life 2 which means it will be rubbish.

      For the record from what we know there are plenty of reasons to be worried which have nothing to do with the lineage. Has there ever been a procedurally generated game with decent AI path finding? Will all the procedurally generated levels look like the same half mile stretch of American suburbia? Will the agents join the select group of FPS AI partners who aren’t complete bell ends (a group that is essentially just Alyx sitting on her own in a conference room twanging elastic bands at the ceiling fan)? Then so on and so on.

      The answer to all of those questions is of course.
      I dunno.

    • Jeremy says:

      Don’t like being this guy, but , speaking of the post above this, the link is a bit skeezy. It has an added h in the http.

    • dysphemism says:

      @Bhazor I don’t think what Alec’s saying is quite so single-minded. Beyond “not being X-Com,” the main concern is that it won’t incorporate any elements to set it apart from your run-of-the-mill Turok clone.

      It’s hard to single out specific features for ridicule when the devs are being slippery on the mechanics. I’m with the RPS team in thinking that this game could be a great opportunity point for the devs to do interesting things with the FPS genre — specifically incorporating base-building and resource/squad management — but to hold such hopes is nerve-wracking in the face of what we know about the industry and how it’s guided (e.g. the “don’t do anything new!” credo). So our only recourse is to pop a Xanax and blog our fears.

  8. Huggster says:

    “If it’s just a glorified mission selector and exposition spouter, it’s going to be deeply unsatisfying.”
    And what does your head tell you? I think you already know.
    Dev’s best intentions and all that.

  9. Vinraith says:

    …and then I saw this one and was even more impressed. Seriously Alec, really well done all around. You’ve given voice to both sides of the issue in an extremely genuine way and done about all you can do to set an example for the way we should all handle and discuss this kind of thing.

    • Huggster says:

      I should hope so – its his job!

    • Vinraith says:

      No, it’s not. Alec could write anything he damn well pleased here, he’s no one’s employee for purposes of his RPS output. It’d certainly be easy to get a lot of page views writing something far less insightful and level-headed than this pair of posts.

    • Huggster says:

      I meant I would expect something well written as they are journalists – with a standard of writing more coherent than most people.
      Whether or not you are paid to do something should not affect the quality of your writing, if you are a good writer.
      It was not meant as an attack dude.

    • Luckylad says:

      Well written, but the excessive use of inappropriate language at the beginning is kind of disappointing given that we trust you to provide us the news about games where other critics fall short. If I wanted language I can randomly search google and find about a billion results. Please Alex uphold your standards that we’ve come to know and love.

    • Grunt says:

      Luckylad, I don’t think that language is inappropriate considering the audience the articles were written for. I think it’s been very carefully judged, weighted and measured, and fits perfectly. I do believe swearing should not be given free rein in all situations but in this instance I see nothing wrong with it.

  10. Daniel Adamov says:

    I like the blobs, actually. They seem like something out of the better part of Russian/Eastern Bloc (I mostly mean Lem, I guess) science fiction. Suitably creepy and alien.

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Daniel: I actually like ‘em too.

      KG

    • Spacewalk says:

      So I take it that’s a communist invasion subplot.

    • Huggster says:

      They remind me of the original Star Trek episode where those “flat pancake things” fall down from the ceiling onto your back. Do you remember those?
      They were creepy and looked like fake sick from the joke shop. I am sure I looked above doors before walking under them for a few weeks when I was little due to those.

    • CMaster says:

      I have to say I find humanoid aliens really quite uninteresting.
      It’s certainly the really odd, otherworldly stuff that gets me interested, so maybe the blobs can do that.
      Mass Effect’s legion of funny-coloured people couldn’t really manage it.

    • Chris D says:

      Anyone who doesn’t think blobs can be terrifying needs to play more Call of Cthuhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. Also anyone who hasn’t played it before. Especially if they’re small children.

  11. AVarotsis says:

    I’m vaguely thankful that the total sums of the reason you’re worried seems to be “There is a lot of stuff we don’t know yet, and that stuff might, possibly, maybe, be bad”.

    • Eightball says:

      If you read the other half of Alec’s piece here, it seems just as many, if not more, factors for the game being good are only possibilities and not set in stone.

  12. Sinnamon says:

    The thing about it being a shooter for me is not that turn based tactics games do not work on consoles since they do and are made all the time. It’s not that there is some inevitable tide of gameplay progress sweeping away strategy games and replacing them action games. The thing is that publishers think that all of their young customers are mouth breathing morons who don’t have any patience and probably couldn’t get their puny brains into gear well enough to move a unit on a map and then press end turn.

  13. Reverend Speed says:

    The article sounds like the arguments of the more rational Fallout fans when their treasured squad-and-turn-based tactical RPG was being converted into a (decent) shooter-with-bullet time and reduced RPG elements.

    The anxiety over seeing the setting and superficial conventions of a franchise lifted and applied to an entirely different genre/range of mechanics… and then having to listen to the marketing spiel of “It is EXACTLY THE SAME but BETTER YOU LOVE IT YOU LOVE IT”… wow, so familiar.

    I’ll agree that this is the best chance you’ll get to see a new old-style X-Com game, though – it makes little sense for T2 to acquire a licence like this and NOT make it as mass-market as possible… and it makes equally little sense for them not to exploit the ‘faithful’ by not releasing a version of the old game on iPhone, etc.

    I quite like the blobs, though. I’ll agree they don’t have a particularly iconic design, but they DO look otherworldly, like alien corruptions of these calm, quaint 50’s communities…

  14. id says:

    I nodded vigorously in agreement with “That X-COM was about aliens and Cydonia and whatnot was always academic – this was a game that walked tall thanks to its mechanics, not thanks to its lore.”

    With one exception, of course: Chryssalids. You can tell people who played X-COM from those who didn’t just by saying “Terror mission, at night, CHRYSSALIDS” and watching the primal fear claw its way right up their spines. It may well be the only part of X-COM’s lore that is genuinely beloved in its own right; everything else people love is the mechanics.

    • jalf says:

      If you define “beloved” as ridiculously frustrating and a pain in the butt, yeah, sure, they were beloved. I really wouldn’t mind if the game had left them out entirely.

    • id says:

      We often define ourselves by how we overcome adversity. In the case of Chryssalids, we first face the dread (and yes, the frustrating pain-in-the-butt quality) of our early encounters with them: priming hand grenades on sacrificial rookies, wondering how many civilians are going to turn into new enemies before the map is over, and generally cursing whoever put those damn things in the game in the first place. Later on in the game, we make up for it by just fucking blaster-bombing the entire goddamn map until it’s a flat plain of smoking ash some ten meters or so beneath our flying-suited death commandos, and feel really good about it.

      Anyway, they’re the most memorable opponents in the entire game. There’s certainly nothing else in the game’s lore that evokes much emotion one way or the other in players.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hidebound recalcitrant!

  16. BonusWavePilot says:

    You’ve got one too many eiches in your ‘the post above this’ link there…

  17. mod the world says:

    “It’s from the makers of Bioshock” – oh no, its from the makers of one of the best shooters ever! If the XCOM FPS would have been made by Id, THAT would have been reason for worries.

    • jalf says:

      Really? You thought Bioshock was a good shooter?

      As much as I was disappointed by the setting and the presentation, I can see why people might like those parts.

      But the shooter mechanics? The guns felt clumsy, unreliable and unsatisfying. Even just moving around smoothly felt clumsy. As a shooter, Bioshock just wasn’t very good.

    • Jad says:

      Agreed. The shooter mechanics in Bioshock were awful. Your enjoyment and esteem of the game are entirely dependent on how much you could get past that. Many could (especially the console crowd who never have played a shooter with precise controls and tight mechanics) and I don’t blame them, but I could not. Bioshock with shooter mechanics by id or Valve would have been amazing and worth the hype.

  18. Marar Patrunjica says:

    # C’mon, that obelisk thing! Fighting something that can rip up the world – now that sounds fun.

    Personally, that was one of the main reasons I don’t like it very much, they took a powerful icon from one of the best movies ever made and turned it into a lame enemy. Is there nothing sacred anymore?

    • Marar Patrunjica says:

      Delete this please, this was indended for the “xcom will be good” post, that page timed out on me while sending the message and I opened the wrong one by mistake.

    • Boldoran says:

      If by any chance you are refering to 2001 A Space Odysse; As far as I know there was no Obelisk there. And if you wre talking about some other movie then please enlighten me.

  19. stone says:

    My XCOM should be squadbased and turnbased when encountering aliens, anything else will be a breach of the XCOM unwritten rule of law. So this game will – as it seems now – truly disappoint me.

  20. d32 says:

    fallout all over again.

    • Jeremy says:

      Well, most people generally liked the new direction of FO3, myself included. Definitely skeptical at first though. It also mostly retained the theme from the original and even had a few shout outs to previous installments. Granted, it’s too soon to tell with XCOM, but it seems like it bears no similarities outside of name recognition. Also, aliens.

  21. uk_john says:

    In effect, it sounds like another Alpha Protocol, a PC game that could have been great but destreyed in the delivery by our curretn multiformat market, where the console gets ‘first choice’.

    Non linear, intelligent, roleplaying is what Alpha Protocol promised and didn’t deliver because of console consideration. Dragon Age, a game that many reviewers said ‘harkened back to Baldur’s Gate’ didn’t even have a non linear gameworld to explore!

    So this game will be let down not because it’s an FPS rather than a turn-based strategy title, it will be a let down because it will need to be tremendously dumbed down a for perceived dumb console market that is now actually mad up of mostly 30 something’s!

    • jalf says:

      Waitwhat? Have you tried playing through AP twice? Or just compared your playthrough to someone else’s? If that’s not nonlinear, I don’t know what is.

      Missions generally had multiple routes to the destination. That’s nonlinear.
      Most missions could be played in any order. That’s nonlinear.
      Some missions can be avoided entirely, if you play other missions first. That’s nonlinear.
      Some new missions appear only if you play others, that could have been avoided. That’s nonlinear.
      During most of the game, you have three hubs you can play through in any order. That’s nonlinear.

      And of course, how you deal with people makes a significant difference on how the story plays out. That is pretty goddamn nonlinear.

      So in conclusion: what are you talking about?

      And I’m not even going to go into the whole “wah, consoles destroyed it” thing. They couldn’t have, because it wasn’t destroyed. It was a really good game. (although with some technical flaws)

      Likening XCOM to AP has got to be the weirdest comparison of the year.

    • Jad says:

      And of course, if non-linear gameworlds is apparently the bane of console-focused development, why do Bethesda (Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout 3) sell so well on consoles? Sandbox & open-world games like Rockstar (GTA’s, Red Dead Redemption)? Assassin’s Creed? Far-Cry 2? Back-tracking in Metroid Prime? Heck, Prince of Persia 2008 was harmed by its non-linearity, I thought Mario Galaxy 2 was superior to its predecessor because it (partially) dumped the hub-world conceit and went back to a map-based system.

  22. Namos says:

    Since I never played X-COM, it’s point number one that resonates the most with me.
    Where the heck did we go wrong that the most hallowed genre is the bloody FPS?

    Why the hell are we sacrificing brilliant game design and mechanics on the altar of flashier and bigger explosions?

    This is the result of the game industry looking up to the movie industry, instead of having the courage to forge a new model.

    • Bhazor says:

      Why not a turn based game? Well as you say in your first line, no body is playing them.

    • Nick says:

      “Why not a turn based game? Well as you say in your first line, no body is playing them.”

      Yeah, nobody plays Civ4, Advance Wars, a great deal of JRPGs, Gal Civ 2, Fire Emblem, Civ: Rev, Final Fantasy Tactics, Front Mission.. etc etc.

  23. orpheusx says:

    “The developers are making bold promises without providing detail, and refusing to be drawn on most important topics. Perhaps this is intended to inspire curiosity and excitement, but giving so little to back up their claims scarely inspires the confidence of people who want a game that feels like X-COM.”

    Exactly, Alec. I’ve got to wonder what the 2K marketing people were thinking. It’s not like Irrational hasn’t experienced the pains of making a sequel to a game with a hardcore following (Tribes.) If you’re going to revamp X-COM in 2010 you’ve got to make your case from the start. People who don’t know the game won’t be especially curious with all the other E3 announcements. People who are already fans are just going to be mad unless you show them something to make them reconsider.

  24. Tyler says:

    On the subject of the blobs, I don’t think they’re actually blobs. The weird blob-phasing effect is probably an artifact of an incomplete dimensional shift technology. I imagine there are more than blobs to deal with as things move onward in the story.

  25. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Most of these criticisms also occurred to me, I have to say.

    I still think it looks interesting even if most of this is true.

  26. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    And I think the thing that bothers me the most is that the mission selection might be purely cosmetic. That is, you can select from say three different places to go alien hunting but essentially the mission is the same, no matter where you go – only the map and perhaps some of the enemies you find there will be different.

  27. scoopsy says:

    Along these lines, I’d like to take a moment and announce my newest game, M.U.L.E.: Off-World Commando

    When the dark and sinister M.U.L.E. Corporation sets up a new outpost on an unclaimed world, they call in Sabrina Carnage to deal with the native population… permanently. In this thrilling first-person reimagining of the classic space trading game, you’ll shoot, kick, and quick-time-event your way across 12 action-packed missions that take you from the farthest reaches of space and into the very heart of the M.U.L.E Corporation itself.

    In keeping with the original’s games trading theme, Agent Sabrina will be able to trade in any resources she finds on the native world between missions for deadly upgrades to her already fearsome arsenal. In addition, we’ve added a revolutionary “buy low, hack high” mini-game that harkens back to the previous M.U.L.E. game whenever Sabrina has to hack her way past a security terminal.

    That’s all I’m allowed to say on this game for the moment, but we think you’ll enjoy it. Also, look forward to our other game, Panzer General: Pioneer Infantryman, a gritty first-person reimagining of the SSI classic.

    • bwion says:

      I was going to do a jokey follow-up to this making reference to a first-person shooter based on Archon.

      But then I realized I would actually play a first-person shooter based on Archon. Shooty fantasy chess! If that’s not a winning moneymaking formula then I do not know what is!

      (It is, in fact, quite likely that I do not know what a winning moneymaking formula is.)

    • _Nocturnal says:

      Why stop with turn-based games?

      If the above is not enough, we have here for you the great reimagining of a true adventure game classic: The Longest Journey: D.E.A.T.H. Soldiers! In this new FPS take on Ragnar Tornquist’s critically acclaimed world, you play Jane, a lone and troubled female assassin hired by Stark Corporation to secure their interests in the Middle Eastern region of Arcadia where locals are causing unrest. Delivering on fans expectations for emotionally intense gameplay and deep story development, Jane can use her newly found powers among which are Angst, letting her make 400% more damage to enemies, Sadness, which slows down time to a crawl and lets her take off enemies one by one, as well as the elusive Happiness power which provides health regeneration. When communicating with others Jane can rely on a vast array of response types such as Pistol Head Popping, Shotgun Knock-backing and Machinegun Carnage! For maximum drama, Jane is later accompanied by reluctant allies Crash and Burn who specialize in explosive and fire-based weaponry respectively and also provide co-op opportunities. When the true extent of Stark Corporation’s plans are revealed, Jane is in for a surprise twist that will affect her whole worldview. Pre-order NOW!

  28. Kevbo says:

    I just wish they left the name X-Com out of this title and made a game ‘inspired’ by X-com. It would still leave the possibility of a future x-com game really staying true to the roots. Now after this game sells well since its an accessible fps, it will basically decrease the chance of any future x-com game returning to the roots.

    Also this is a mass market accessible game so it’s hard for me to accept that it will be challenging and not linear. Here’s to hoping that it turns out ok.

    • Taillefer says:

      But, equally, why does the next great X-COM-a-like have to be called X-COM?
      The original devs won’t be working on it.

  29. Pseudonym says:

    Thank you Alec.

    Ever since I first heard that the setting for the game was 50s America something something bothered me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. You just articulated my concerns beautifully. I guess that is why you get paid the big bucks.

    I do have another problem with the setting though, it seems to lack the same sense of scale that the international nature of the original provided. The first game felt truely epic, and keeping it in one country loses that.

    I’m still cautiously optimistic about the game, but at the same time I hope that whenever someone decides to update Jagged Alliance they will keep it a tactical turn based game.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewski says:

      Apparently German publisher BitComposer Games has the Jagged Alliance IP now, and plan to release a genuine sequel in 2011.

  30. Italian Prick says:

    “C’mon, those Blob things! They’re just shapeless nothings. They’re not iconic, they’re not very threatening, and they look like a graphical glitch.”

    This actually is one of the things that i most disliked about XCOM, and the way that the developers have disregarded all the mithology of the older X-COM hurts me.

    I wanna see a Sectoid in glorious polygons count hiding in the dark atleast :/

  31. PMendes says:

    I liked the blob things, both graphically and in concept. The moment In the new trailer, where one invades a man’s body and we hear his scream, freaked me out a lot.
    That having said, this could be a great game, but should be renamed (I would think something along the lines of “ComX” would be sensible and smart).

  32. Calabi says:

    Personally I think saying turn based games are dead or not marketable is a misnomer. They never were. They were never kings of the hill blockbuster type games. In the beginning the audiences for games were smaller, and people were more willing to try different things, the were never advertised in the way they are today, it was more word of mouth then which easily made games rise to the top when they wouldnt likely these days.

  33. madned says:

    I think you do a disservice to the original trying to slice off bits and pieces like separating the setting/lore from the rest of it. Mechanics were not all that XCOM was.

    The original xcom was an unusual fusion exploiting pop-culture reference to aliens, a mash of different game play ranging from squad tactical TBS to resource management to rts ufo intercept. piecing off just the setting is neglecting any sort of synergy between elements which made the whole work. without the setting there’s less incentive to invest, it becomes a intellectual exercise, you’re not Defending the Earth! ™ but rather Esperanza (UFO Extraterrestrials). The funding minigame helped tie that down, are you going to focus on the USA? don’t believe in apple pie? Oh no! vile aliens got their tentacles into the USSR? aw we don’t need the commie bastards…etc.

    If anything the tactical interface was the least, although perhaps most persistent, of XCOM’s strengths. the reliance of TBS was as much a concession to limitations of technology as engaging the player. when you made a tactical error, or even a brutal decision it was the player performing and not a poor AI. But it would probably still have worked as a game if they retained a similar level of responsibility/engagement, even(i suspect) from a FPS perspective. that they chose isometric were no doubt for technical and more importantly aesthetic reasons.

    The oily blobs have pre-existing history and most recently can probably be linked to x-files. the inherent problem displayed so far is, they can be killed. blob type opponents were generally insidious infectious things which usually displayed immunity to normal weaponry and tactics. the brief clips seem to indicate elimination through conventional weaponry.
    to make them work with the appropriate horror i think you’d need to make killing the hosts an inconvenience but non-fatal. essentially rendering a blob equal to a crysalid: it subverts humans, but can’t be killed easily, which turns engaging one from bug hunt to cthulu flee in terror events.

  34. kjr says:

    A large part of what made XCom enjoyable to me was the combination of squaddies that could easily be killed at any point (especially early in the game!) and the way you could get attached to those who survived a few missions or by some fluke carried out some rambo-esque feat feat of derring-do.

    And the inevitable upset as some alien hit your most heroic agent with a heavy plasma, and the resulting morale loss caused a dreadful chain reaction that resulted in the loss of an entire mission.

  35. PHeMoX says:

    Hmm, to some extent I think enough time has passed since the last XCOM game for this new game of a different genre to be somewhat justifiable.

    Of course, it’s questionable whether fans of the original are going to be able to really like this ‘spin-off’.

    I think it’s not going to be my kind of game, but it’s too early still.

  36. malkav11 says:

    It’s not the people who made Bioshock (which would be an awesome pedigree), it’s the people who made Bioshock 2, a largely unnecessary sequel that apes much of what Bioshock did (down to mimicing at least one scene almost exactly) but as far as I’ve played fails to do it as well. (Still quite enjoyable, of course.)

  37. Daryl says:

    I already know this game is going to be released as a buggy, unfinished console port. I might pick it up on Steam a few years from now when it’s five dollars, like I have with other buggy, unfinished console ports (Bioshock, Oblivion, Fallout 3), but until then I have literally zero interest in this game.

  38. Grey! says:

    It’s no X-Com. It’s SuburbanShock. Instead Big Daddy, we got Mr. Blobby. They used the 1950 settings all over again. Pathetic.

    “Would you kindly swallow the blob and give us back our X-Com.”

  39. teat says:

    hhttp://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2010/06/16/xgood/ <=link is broken