Whatever Happened To The Other XCOM Remake?

By Alec Meer on October 1st, 2012 at 10:00 am.

Well, it may have become a third-person shooter, rather than the first-person shooter 2K Marin’s divisive XCOM was originally billed as. \Kotaku have seen a opinion-monitoring survey allegedly allegedly allegedly sent out to punters by 2K, which contains apparent screenshots of a third-person view that seems to have a heightened focus on squad play.

Other than that and a reiteration that 2K Marin are at the controls, there’s not much to go on. It looks like a big change, though. I can’t ascertain from peering minutely at these screens whether or not you directly control just the one guy while doling out orders to the rest of the squad, or if you switch between them.

The screens evoke a sort of 40s Ghostbusters to me – so they’ve kept the setting even if they’ve changed the camera, UI and (presumably) mechanics. I also notice that they contain an enemy called the Outsider, which is one that also appears in the XCOM strategy remake, so there’ll be some link between the two if these screens are the real deal.

The question, for me, is why they’ve changed the game, having already given it at least one do-over since its initial announcement in 2010. Is it because other drafts of the game haven’t been working, they couldn’t meet their lofty intentions, fear of the fan reaction, or some other form of cold feet? Inevitably much may rest on how well XCOM: Enemy Unknown performs. I’ve got review code for that on my PC now, donchaknow – verdict next week, all being well.

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109 Comments »

  1. The Godzilla Hunter says:

    I am not normally a person who cares a lot about bad graphics…but what is up with that back texture on the 2nd screenie?

    • Styles says:

      Same here and I noticed that too ….pretty shoddy. Bad port ahoy!

      • Ringwraith says:

        Seeing as it’s still in development and they’ve only just started toying with a third-person viewpoint, I’m guessing that’s mostly just a placeholder of a texture.
        That’s not bad porting, it’s just awful, so it’ll likely change.

        • Styles says:

          I know, I’m just being pessimistic :) Hope it gets polished up a LOT before release, but in the age of terrible ports you can’t really blame me for being wary.

          • Snids says:

            So we’re in an “age” of terrible ports now are we?

          • FreudianTrip says:

            Yes you can. This is how development works.

          • Styles says:

            Yup….I’ve been gaming for 20 years and this is most definitely the age of terrible ports. Although as I said, I hope it’s polished properly.

          • Yosharian says:

            Oh yes, I’m sure that texture will be changed dramatically by the end of the development cycle. It’s just a placeholder. Suuuure.

          • MarigoldFleur says:

            “Age of terrible ports” my left tit. Anyone who says this is an “age of terrible ports” clearly doesn’t remember 1995 to 2007. The last few years have brought us some of the most consistently well-made ports outside of games like GTAIV and Dark Souls.

          • Mad Hamish says:

            pfft anyone who says the age of terrible ports is 95-07 clearly doesn’t rememeber arcade games being ported to the C64.

          • MarigoldFleur says:

            I’d call that the “age of bad ideas for ports” considering how limited the C64 was compared to what was essentially its supercomputer of a cousin. It’s hard to compete with hardware like was in the arcades considering how they were machines designed to bring in hundreds of dollars a week and were priced to match.

          • Premium User Badge

            frymaster says:

            anyone who calls this the age of terrible ports doesn’t remember spectrum games ported to the Amstrad CPC (which had the same processor but a significantly better graphics chipset)

    • Inigo says:

      He was abducted and subjected to horrific experiments in which he was hybridized with a box of Lego.

      • Styles says:

        ….suddenly the phrase “don’t tread on me” comes to mind

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        Either that, or the engine decided to mate with GoldSrc for some unfathomable reason.

    • kikito says:

      That’s how they did it in the sixties.

      In Belgium.

    • Senethro says:

      Not interested in another over-the-shoulder hiding-in-cover shooter that might as well be turnbased. At least Mass Effect had a short range teleporting class.

      I hoped for SWAT, began to expect Bioshock, am now expecting Gears of War. It might still be a good game but it won’t be for me.

    • Emeraude says:

      I am not a person who cares about graphics, at all, and I’m still trying to see what it is you find wrong with that picture.

      I must confess feeling old.

  2. Premium User Badge

    mrpier says:

    I want a X-Com/SWAT4 hybrid.

    • DogKiller says:

      I’d settle for SWAT 5 made by Irrational Games. I loved the whole gritty noir feel of SWAT 4. So good.

      • Shadowcat says:

        Given that Irrational were bought out by a different publisher, they will undoubtedly never be involved in that series again, so I would honestly prefer that the source code to SWAT 4 was released. That game was so close to perfect that it hurts, and I’m really doubtful that a new game would be a net improvement (even if Sierra was interested in making one, which doesn’t seem to be the case). I reckon there are enough serious fans out there that the odd gaps in the existing game could probably be filled in, however.

    • atticus says:

      I was thinking “Freedom Fighters”, although that might be too much fast action and too little tactical/strategy.

      Still, really liked that game. Too bad the sequel never saw the light of day.

      • Felixader says:

        God yes! That game was so fricking atmospheric, you could eat the atmosphere in spades and still had tons of it left. I still love this thing and play trough it on my Gamecube here and there.

        Secretly i am hoping someone takes the games elements and makes and open world thing with it with a linear story that shows the city7 whatever place in different states and seasons and stuff.

      • mbourgon says:

        Or Freedom Force. (which did get a sequel, and was made by Irrational)

  3. Styles says:

    I’d be guessing it’s mostly due to the fanbase reaction, since it was so incredibly negative (generally), but other factors too.

    • Trent Hawkins says:

      that and there wasn’t much interest in it to begin with.

      It just looks so cheesy and unimaginative.

  4. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Why don’t they scrap the project entirely? It’s still clearly nothing to do with X-COM.

    • Styles says:

      Hmm….yeah it’s gone from being the main focus of the XCom revival hype to sitting silent in the background, while the turn based strategy one (which they pretended didn’t exist until recently) is in hype-overdrive. It’s fairly obvious that they worked out which one is the more popular concept.

      • Senethro says:

        4 years ago it was this big open secret ( at least among civ fans) that firaxis was doing early work on a property that was totally not Xcom. I’m still surprised by this alternate history where it was covered up.

        • Premium User Badge

          jezcentral says:

          Not X-COM? It’s not only a third-person shooter like X-Com Enforcer, and it is a squad-based shooter, like X-COM Alliance (would have been).

          The X-COM IP has covered multiple genres, so this isn’t new.

          I don’t like the 50s setting (near-future, FTW!), but I’ll still settle for a good game.

          EDIT: Ninja’d by Luaan.

      • S Jay says:

        They really should change the name. Might even be a good game, but carrying the X-COM name will certainly make all fans unhappy.

        No matter how good it is, it is not X-COM.

    • Mad Hamish says:

      Are you serious? You think they shoul scrap a game they invested millions of dollars in and years of time just becasue fickle fans(me being one of em) of the franchise no longer care about it becasue they have an actual successor? No one has even played this game. Give em a bloody chance for fuck sake.

  5. BestFriends4Ever says:

    Who you gonna call?

  6. Premium User Badge

    Crimsoneer says:

    I’m disappointed. Porting some of the best features of X-Com to a first person, squad based perspective could have been awesome, Squad commands, memorable squadmates, a base you get to walk around in…it could have worked !

    • Luaan says:

      Oh yeah… I’m still waiting for someone to make X-COM: Alliance :))

  7. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    I kinda liked the look of this project. It’s a fairly fresh setting, and could work well in its own right (like someone says, a SWAT4/Rainbow Six style thing would be so amazing).

  8. merc-ai says:

    Maybe they were told to make it more like Mass Effect 3?
    If that is the case, this isn’t going to end well ;)

    • Deathmaster says:

      We can always hope they were told to make it like Freedom Fighters…

    • Vorphalack says:

      If that’s their response for calls asking for more strategic options, I hope it plays better than any of the ME games did. ME squad control was always either tedious, pointless or impossible. Pick any two.

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      Well, if they want good gameplay then emulating ME3 is the way to go. Say what you will about some elements (which I personally like, cause I`m a hipster like that), but the shooting mechanics were spot-on, as were the ARPG elements.

    • Shezo says:

      More like ME 3, eh ?
      Like, we will be able to have romance with aliens ?

    • Skabooga says:

      @Merc-ai: I see what you did there.

      Edit: I massed up and forgot to include a pun.

    • BobsLawnService says:

      More likely they were told to make it less like the godawful Syndicate remake.

  9. JoeGuy says:

    Alec, you probably have the review code for XCOM: EU by now. The Firaxis guys seem to like you lot. Should we be excited for your ‘Judged’ or ‘WOT I THINK’ article for XCOM: EU or should we holster our expectations just a little?

    - Also this is still 2K Marin, so I’m not going to pre-judge, they know how to make involved, high quality shooters while balancing character abilities and giving a darkish Sci-Fi twist after all.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      When you wrote XCOM: EU I had the image of the game being about aliens conquering the planet because the French and German squadmates spent too long arguing with each other while the Greek squadmate lies on the floor writhing in agony.

      • Snids says:

        LE ZING!!! I bet they felt that one back in Brussels!

        Give up the pound? Not on my watch, frenchy. You’ll take my .oz lbs and hogs heads over my dead body! Winterval, can’t even sing baa baa black sheep in school etc.

  10. Secundus says:

    I feel like this is the end of terminator except the robot emerges from the crusher even more fucked up looking and keeps crawling at sarah connor for another three hours

  11. Drake Sigar says:

    Kill it with lasers.

  12. Groove says:

    With NewCom looking so good I’m not sure what to think of this. The burden of being XCom has been lifted and they’re free to make a good companion to the proper game.

  13. Jason Moyer says:

    I dunno what was wrong with the game the way it was originally pitched, aside from the knee-jerk reaction from people who weren’t going to play it anyway.

  14. BrendanJB says:

    The original idea they had was perfectly fine, they just mistakenly called it XCOM when it should have been a completely new IP. They didn’t need to redesign the entire thing. No matter what perspective they put the game in, XCOM fans will not be happy with how far it strays from the original game.

    Just make it a new IP about investigating and defending against aliens.

    • Premium User Badge

      AmateurScience says:

      To be honest, if they’d announced this *after* they announced the soon to be out omg omg one I honestly don’t think there would have been anywhere near the brouhaha about it. Maybe not, but I find myself indifferent to positive about this with the knowledge that there’s going to be the TBS game too, whereas before I was all eye-rollingly negative.

    • The_Mess says:

      Yeah, I might have been slightly sceptical about how it was going to turn out due the Syndicate reboot, but over all it looked and sounded like they had some good ideas and the art style was pretty awesome (in comparison to the standard grey/brown blah). Now? It doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence and frankly that UI is bloody horrible.

  15. f1x says:

    For me the problem here is the lack of confidence 2K is showing, for their own project,

    I agree that speaking with fans and listening to feedback is cool, but if they have to do a survey to know which kind of games would the fans want, something is wrong, its the same as with post-Dragon Age 2 surveys, what happened to those companys that took risks to make the games they believed were good and then created masterpieces?

    come on, just make a superb game and it will suceed, if they actually release an X-COM FPS which delivers, I think gamers will be pleased (I said gamers, for a reason),
    [but yes doing a 50s X-Files uninspired common FPS and putting the X-Com on top of it aint too engaging]
    and also fix those goddamn textures… lolz

    • DiamondDog says:

      Yup. If this is all legit and they’ve changed the game to this degree I’ll be very disappointed. Not because I had any real excitement for how it was previously, but because I hate the idea that they might have done this due to fan reaction.

      People have every right to offer their opinions on the game as it was, of course. I’m one of the very few people that doesn’t feint at the mention of X-COM, but I can understand the strong feelings about it. However, they should have the courage of their convictions. Stick with it and release the best game they can and hope it wins people over. But then, betting millions of pounds of development on ‘hope’ isn’t very likely, I suppose.

      To get to such a point with the FPS game and then swerve off on a different path isn’t very encouraging. Maybe. Possibly.

  16. CaspianRoach says:

    So it’s Mass Effect now, then?

  17. Cinnamon says:

    I guess that if one of their versions went down well with focus groups of 13 year old Americans then nobody would care about “lofty aspirations” or fan reactions.

  18. pkt-zer0 says:

    “Whatever Happened To The Other XCOM Remake?”

    The next question is, “does anyone care anymore?”. The game was pretty unimpressive originally, except for the BETRAYAL!!-type reactions it inspired.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I’m more interested in the tactical squad-based FPS they were showing a few years ago than I am in the Firaxis game or the original X-Com series.

      • Muzman says:

        I think it’s just us two. Even with two whole turned based remakes now the old guard still won’t give another style a chance.

        • TCM says:

          The ‘old guard’ of gaming is the worst term, because it implies that gaming isn’t new as all frig when compared to any other form of media or entertainment.

          Here is a primary problem with video gamers: Whatever came out when you were 13-18 was ‘the best games have ever been’, and every thing before is primitive, while everything since is on the decline.

          • Jason Moyer says:

            I think it’s more like ages 5-12, after that you have real stuff to deal with like girls and whatever until you’re middle aged and care about games again.

  19. AJ_Wings says:

    It’s sad to see promising developers like 2K Marin wasting 5 years of their lives on a reboot that won’t go anywhere. I was sorta interested at what they’re going to do with their version of XCOM. Oh well, at least Firaxis’ XCOM looks fantastic and promising.

    I’m also interested at how many millions 2K wasted into this project already. Stupid, narrow-minded suits…

    • Captain Joyless says:

      People who complain about “the suits” are typically stupid and narrow-minded themselves.

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        lol people who complain about the suits are, like, everyone.

  20. Alexandros says:

    Does anybody care about this game anymore?

  21. RegisteredUser says:

    Seems like:

    Can’t make it special? Not sure it will work? Realizing you are just making another one of those “something something reason to shoot things something something your squadmates will help you with this something oh and there’ll be scripted stuff something SHOOTER!” things?

    Sell it to the lazy, will-pay-for-any-TPS-rehash-snorebore console couch-crowd and flip it from FPS to TPS!
    Problem solved.
    Oh and as a kind of afterthought let some incompetent slop-job team botch it enough to work on a PC and then charge full price for an essentially unchanged, unsupported, forever version 1.0 port.
    And don’t forget that extra helping of DRM on top!

    Worked the last 10 years, why wouldn’t it now?

    • greenbananas says:

      No further comments necessary , as far as I’m concerned.

    • Baardago says:

      What RU said.

      Wonder how badly this not-XCOM game will fail after launch.

      • TCM says:

        It is an XCOM game, just like Enforcer and Interceptor were X-com games, Invisible War was a Deus Ex game, etc.

        You don’t have to like it, that doesn’t change the reality of the matter.

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      RegisteredUser are you Nostradamus? This is prophecy.

    • MrUnimport says:

      The first-person atmospheric linear shooter is one of my favourite subgenres of game and I find your sneering assertion that a perfectly good shooter can be degraded from “PC gaming gentleman’s shooter” to “bland repetitive uninspired console trash for lowbrow plebians” by a simple change of perspective to be incredibly insulting.

      • DarkFenix says:

        Given that that’s not what he actually said, I think you’re looking for insults a little too hard. Might wanna take your pills and calm down a little.

        Not as though he’s wrong either.

  22. aldo_14 says:

    Surely they’re in deep shit if they’re sending out surveys to make design changes, when they should already be / have been deep in the middle of implementation?

    What are the programming, art etc people meant to do whilst the marketing guys try to crowdsource game design – sit on their hands?

  23. vodka and cookies says:

    Well gameplay wise it’s described as like Star Wars Republic Commando which is a good thing though from the sounds of it this wont be released on the PC and will be a console title only.

    • derbefrier says:

      I guess they realized how close minded PC gamers can be when it comes to trying something different with an established IP. I mean just look at the reaction to that demo for enemy unknown would you waste time releasing it on PC after you saw your target audience reacting like that? Its probably for the best if this is the case.

      • dE says:

        Naturally in contrast to how open minded console gamers are…
        Interesting fact: There are no “pc gamers” and no “console gamers”. Outside of Strawman Country that is.

        • derbefrier says:

          use what ever label you like the point remains valid.

          • dE says:

            No, not really. I highly question the validity of your claim, as it is dependant on a Strawman Argument.

          • Sparkasaurusmex says:

            Actually the point vanishes without your labels

      • BobsLawnService says:

        I think you’d find that most PC gamers would love to see a respectful, different take on X-Com. We just pan the generic, lazy shovelware with nostalgic branding that we dislike. Just look at what Starbreaze did to Syndicate. It was great IP with so many awesome possibilities and they completely botched it.

      • f1x says:

        I consider myself an “all-platforms” gamer, a casual one tho and I would love to see an FPS take on the XCOM / UFO universe, the only problem is what 2K presented back then (well the squad based part could be interesting) what they presented after that and what they are talking about now sounds terrible generic and uninspired, plus they dont seem to have confidence in their own game

        Actually experiments are nice, when they are done with talent

  24. Gurrah says:

    Wow, that’s worrying to say the least – I loved the glimpses we were able to catch through the odd video and screenshot. I loved the direction the game was going in, I especially loved the setting and alien-design. Those monoliths and sort of shape-shifting creatures were brilliant. It would be sad to see this turned into a 3rd-person coverfest … I hope it’s not the case.

  25. MrLebanon says:

    1st person as blasphemous.. i can live with 3rd person though

  26. Greg Wild says:

    I can only conclude that there is a curse on XCOM being made into an FPS. It gets dragged on and on until the resources are recycled into a third-rate, third-person shooter :D

  27. Captain Joyless says:

    So there’s two 3rd-person XCOM shooters coming out?

    • Premium User Badge

      ffordesoon says:

      Oh, brother…

      We are all aware you don’t like the new XCOMs. Can you put a sock in it now?

    • Totally heterosexual says:

      Hahah look at this is stupid man.

  28. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I actually think a 3rd person squad based game in the XCOM world has legs.

    Give it a chance, people!

    • EPICTHEFAIL says:

      Assuming that they amp up the horror side of the original and minimize the “ermahgerd scripted events!” side of its TPS nature (I`m looking at you, Mass Effect, Gears, Spec Ops…).

  29. Muzman says:

    Where’s my Brylcreme, Fedoras and horn rimmed glasses motherfuckers?!

  30. Strangerator says:

    This type of game could actually be done correctly, and wind up being awesome. My gut feeling is the developers will be afraid of making a good game, and churn out yet another “meh” shooter type.

    You could have a strategic level to the game, one that greatly influenced the squad missions. Allow for emergent gameplay, don’t force a linearized series of missions on players. How about some kind of map randomization??

    But no, people don’t want all that. They want chest high walls every 5 feet, so by God that’s what we’ll give them!

    My very thin hope for this game relies on XCOM: EU’s smashing success. Maybe, just maybe, this will cause this other project to say, “oh, so it’s ok to give players choices and treat them half intelligently?”

    Again, very very thin hope.

  31. MadTinkerer says:

    “Well, it may have become a third-person shooter, rather than the first-person shooter”

    Oh dear. And I was actually looking forward to this before you wrote that sentence. Back to waiting for Bioshock Infinite and Half Life 3, then.

    EDIT: oh wait, I haven’t finished Black Mesa yet! There isn’t much left to go, though…

  32. Yargh says:

    With the long period of silence, I had come to the conclusion that this product was actually a ploy of the Marketing Department designed to make more people love the Firaxis version and ignore any changes it made from the base game model.

    I do think there is room for an XCom prequel, smaller in scale than the global invasion we’ll be fighting off next week, it could even be a shooter, though I do believe something like the Rainbow 6 model of tactical shooter would work better or even the multi-screen mayhem of the old Captive/Space Hulk games.

  33. Shralla says:

    So guys, all the fans are saying that our Xcom first-person shooter is too generic. How do we fix this?

    MAKE IT THIRD-PERSOOOOOOOOOON.

  34. MythArcana says:

    The game industry is resembling the movie industry more each day. Someone decides to do a remake and IT’S ALL WRONG, even after spending $20 million to make it. I have more faith in indie developers who haven’t been born yet.

  35. sinister agent says:

    I can’t shake the feeling that this game is going to sink like a stone when it comes out, now that it’s been overshadowed by a proper remake, and there’s even Xenonauts for people who are unhappy with that. Relying on a famous name isn’t going to cut it when everyone who recognises that name has better options.

  36. clive dunn says:

    Only the Gollops can make an x-com game. It’s like saying, ‘oh hey everyone, it’s a new Shakespeare play’, but it’s actually something you scrawled on the back of receipt.
    *also, I presume everyone is aware that you can play the original Laser Squad and Rebelstar Raiders on your idevice. Much joy replaying them.

  37. Thrax says:

    “That other” remake should be about Xenonauts…

  38. TCM says:

    There’s two big problems with FPS!XCOM:

    1) The overzealous crusading brand defenders who feel they have an absolute right as TRUE fans to dictate how a company utilizes an IP they own.

    2) A company that had very little respect for the association of the IP with certain concepts, and not properly conveying the full measure of what they were doing with it.

  39. Nick says:

    everything since the original teaser video thing has looked awful.

  40. Shooop says:

    Shame really. I was hoping this project had been abducted and mercilessly vivisected.

  41. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Uh, so wait, is the Firaxis X-Com also set in the fifties-y looking time period???

    Also, I’m beginning to come to terms with the idea that third-person shooters are just Not For Me. Spec-Ops was decent if unremarkable, but the new Max Payne was completely unplayable to me.
    So, even less excited about this tortured thing now.