Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day 23

It’s… XCOM: Enemy Unknown!

Jim: While XCOM has eaten countless hours of my dwindling remaining time on this Earth, I feel like I’ve had a different experience to others, not least because of my lack of attachment to the original XCOM games. My main feeling about it, I suppose was that I was simply glad of a turn-based game that I really got along with. It’s a format I find hit and miss, and occasionally it really works. There have been two turn-based games that have really affirmed 2012 for me. This was one, and Unity Of Command was another. (UoC came out last year, of course.) I feel quite strongly that this should herald a new era of fresh turn-based explorations and experiments. But it probably won’t. Which would be a mistake.

Anyway, I also really like the cross-section base. Not because it’s functional (clearly it’s not, and it’s not even all that interesting as a series of choices, with no tech tree specialisation, just a list to pick from), but just because I like cut-away cross-sections of things. Something resonates there, for me, a memory of children’s How Do Things Work books and architectural fantasies. That sort of thing.


I’ve never felt as much trepidation when loading up a game for the first time. There were so many questions to answer – smaller squad sizes, scripted story missions, preconstructed maps – but all of it came down to one thing: ‘do I really need another X-COM game?’

The desire was there and it wasn’t difficult to imagine the polished peril that Firaxis might achieve, but as the sort of beard-stroking film-git who has to stifle his gag reflex whenever he hears the terms ‘reboot’, ‘reimagining’ or ‘remake’, why should I cut XCOM any slack when I’d be tightening the noose if Brad Pitt was gearing up his Chanel-soaked chops to star in a remake of Casablanca? I still play the original game so the undashing remake would not only be dislodging X-COM from my memory but from my free time and I have a very limited number of action points.

Every time Jake Solomon spoke to Alec, I clung reassurance tightly around me like a winter blanket. Changes were afoot but, at the very least, somebody was thinking about those changes in relation to what had come before and what was possible, and that somebody was also willing to talk. That public enthusiasm gave me hope that the game wasn’t ‘remake by committee’. This wasn’t a man in a suit chewing a comically oversized cigar and walking into the office, hooting like a banker: ‘Men, we have this franchise name lying about and it’s not earning its keep. Take X-COM to the money mines and provide it with the hardiest pick we have. The one made entirely out of graphics and cutscenes’.

Enthusiasm breeds doubt though. An ill-intentioned cash-grab warrants disdain but a well-intentioned, passionate disaster could be a tiny bit heart-breaking. And whatever the case, wasn’t it all entirely pointless whatever the intentions?

It didn’t work out that way. X-COM expands on the B-movie sensibilities of Julian Gollops’ masterpiece but it doesn’t seek to imitate the experience of playing it. The aliens are recognisable, the basic flow is familiar, but once there are boots on the ground, Firaxis’ game isn’t a mere technological update, it’s quite clearly a game made by a team who have been playing and thinking about a lot of games since 1995. While it’s not a ‘best of turn-based’ cocktail, I do think the intelligence of the design is at least in part due to the wide variety of influences.

Those over-the-shoulder cams, love them or loathe them (I love them), and the way squaddies slam into the embrace of cover conjure up an alternate reality where the remake was a third-person shooter. Bullet dodged (despite 100% hit probability), let’s move on. The division of a turn into two distinct phases, which become malleable as skills are gained, is a separation from the action points of the original, and reminds me of recent boardgaming and Valkyria Chronicles more than the nineties.

The X-COM license was a sign saying ‘kick me’ stapled to the game’s arse and the solution, as I see it, was to make a game with a hundred influences and reference points rather than channelling everything from one source. It’s so obvious really, but the best way to make XCOM wasn’t to spend every hour playing X-COM and figuring out how to improve its systems, it was to make something new.

Instead of being a tribute that couldn’t hope to outflank the hidden movements of memory, X-COM learned from other games as well and although it has created flaws of its own along with the triumphs, it’s a tactical victory and even if it doesn’t herald a wider turn-based revolution, there’s at least one team out there that I’m eager to see more from. Your move, Firaxis.


Perhaps the highest praise I can offer Firaxis’ most consciously blockbuster game ever is that describing it as “the X-COM remake” no longer feels right. There is X-COM and there is XCOM, and they really do co-exist, doing very different things with the same essential concept, rather than one replacing the other and one doing feature x, y and z that the other not. That’s such a happy outcome for me, all the Christmas present I needed. Rather than having X-COM repeated or replaced, or worse still just X-COM and some lousy explodey thing I don’t care about, I have more X-COM. A choice, the range of options that Interceptor and Enforcer promised but pathetically fluffed.

There was much for the X-COM faithful to be disappointed about, of course. The base and interception elements felt strangely compromised, too many bugs are left unmended, the DLC so far has been insulting, the end-game was a wash-out and the Mutons don’t wear sexy catsuits any more. I don’t ultimately care. Well, maybe I miss lime-green mutons more than is healthy for me. This has been my go-to 2012 time-sink and, so long as either DLC or mods come good, I’m expecting similar to happen in 2013. Whatever it might get wrong, the base provided essential tension-breaking between missions which were reliably dramatic, spectacular and even a little emotional – something I honestly didn’t expect from a turn-based strategy game, let alone one from the often austere Firaxis.

It needs to be played on Classic difficulty, of course, and ideally in Iron Man. It’s not so much that it’s too easy below that, but that the single most critical element of the game – loss – isn’t quite there. While there’s something to be said for the RPG-lite climb up the tech and skill trees in and of itself, the dark heart of XCOM is threat, and from that acute, agonising importance attached to every action.

XCOM is a game where failure plays a more crucial role than does victory, because victory tastes that much sweeter when it feels like justice and valediction for the fallen, not to mention a testament to the player’s ability as a commander. “You, sir or madam, came back from the terrible loss of your best soldiers. You did not falter, but instead took the greenest of the green rookies you were left with and turned them into the fighting force the Earth so sorely needed. We salute you.” Er… I don’t know who I imagined saying that. Morgan Freeman, maybe?

I’ve pinged regularly between this and yesterday’s game as my preferred electronic entertainment of 2012, with FTL not at all far behind. So, whatever comes tomorrow is nothing to do with me – but while I’m sad to not see one of my toys take this site’s ultimate prize, it’s okay. I have feasted so damn well this year already.

The other thing: despite battling purist complaints from my own cynical brain whenever I saw or read about the game ahead of release, come the day I didn’t turn off shoulder-cams, death sequences or soldier barks after all. These apparent saps to blockbuster crowd-pleasing turned to be additive rather than pandering after all. Because, while XCOM may have dispensed with the terror of X-COM as a result of its move to rolling skirmishes rather than search and destroy, what it was instead was genuinely thrilling. All that came from unscripted, ground-level drama, micro-stories I invisibly played the most important role in and consistently returned from either shaken or triumphant.

I don’t know what XCOM’s apparent success means for the future of strategy. Probably nothing, as only truly astronomical sales tend to alter the thundering trajectory of the great warships that are games publishers, but perhaps that doesn’t matter. Just as, thanks to its own successes and its easy blend of the tactical and the bombastic, XCOM no longer need be seen entirely through the prism of its hyphenated past, let’s not get bogged down in worry about what it might spell for the future. Perhaps it’ll prove to be the only man on the Skyranger on a new age for strategy, or perhaps a new squad is even now being busily assembled at publishers across the world. That’s tomorrow’s conundrum. XCOM is here now. The Earth needs saving now. They really did it.


  1. GameCat says:

    So 24th game is CODBLOPS2 or ASSCREED3?

    • Godwhacker says:

      Clearly it’s Super Hexagon

      • caddyB says:


        • Fazer says:

          Secret of the Magic Crystals

        • Jackablade says:

          It could be DayZ actually – that mod had suitable impact and sufficient positive coverage here for it to be a contender. Whether they’d hand the crown to a mod and one that’s still, let’s face it, horribly broken remains to be seen.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        I hope so, super hexagon is my game of the year.

        • DickSocrates says:

          So it’s the only game you’ve played in 2012?

          • Dowr says:

            I’ve played many games this year and I can say Super Hexagon trumps a lot of them.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            It’s obviously a game you haven’t played this year, dick.

        • Jackablade says:

          Genuine question here. What exactly is it about that game that gets people so excited? It looks like a very basic flash game

          • MOKKA says:

            Honestly this is something I keep asking myself over and over again (well not that part about the Flash Game, because I don’t care about the Plattform a game is made in) and I played Super Hexagon for over 13 hours since its release (according to Steam). So far I had troubles to really come up with anything consistent, but let me try nonetheless:

            First of all, it’s not basic. It might look like that but when you play it for a while, you can see how carefully crafted every element of it really is (and why this ‘Open Source’ Clone which made some ruckus a few weeks ago is a genuine piece of crap compared to the original). The patterns might look Random, but they are not. At least not completely (certain patterns always come in a certain order or within a certain Timeframe in a Level).

            The Game is also hard as hell, but on the same time it’s not. It’s simply about learning how to ‘read’ the different patterns of the game. The game might look like you need supernatural reflexes to play it, but in fact all you need to have is a bit of dedication.

            This might sound frustrating, but the game is really good in not giving you any time to get frustrated. You died after 2 seconds? No Problem, you can restart instantly. Seriously, you can restart the Level in less then a second, you even start at the same position you died before. You’re also always aware that it was your mistake that you failed, there was not one time that I felt cheated by this game.

            It’s the perfect ‘in between game’: Its concept is easy to understand and it is (technically) short, but at the same time it can be as exciting and rewarding as many bigger titles. And you don’t even have to be really good in this game to get enjoyment out of it, just the excitement you get when you beat your own record, or mastered a difficult pattern for the first time, is enough.
            And then there’s the music, which encourages you even more to get better at this game, because then you get to listen to it for a longer period of time.

            It’s the first game in a long time where I actually am motivated to be good at it, simply because it is always pushing me to improve myself and since I know that every death is my fault, I always have the feeling that indeed, I can get better at this game.
            If you have to judge a Game based on how well it’s able to execute its own concept, Super Hexagon is as close to perfection as it gets.

            (EDIT: Holy Crap, I think this is the longest comment I’ve ever written here…)

    • Hoschimensch says:

      It is clearly the Pre-Order DLC for Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

    • yogibbear says:

      Nah Farcry 3….. or… Spec Ops: The Line. SADPANDAFACE!

      …which brings me back to the first post I made on the advent calendar day 0 about the Game that wins would have a Bear in it just like Skyrim did last year!!!!! i.e. FC3…. (XCOM doesn’t have bears)

    • povu says:

      How could it be anything other than Potatoman Seeks the Troof?

    • tumbleworld says:

      We all know it’s going to be Mists of Pandaria. How else do you explain all the Ramen that Jim’s been eating recently…?

    • JimBennett says:

      I’m calling it for the underdog: Legend of Grimrock.

    • chargen says:

      It’s going to “Kickstarter”, or “They person of the year is.. you!”

    • Unaco says:

      It’ll be Frozen Synapse. Clearly.

  2. caddyB says:

    So, Far Cry 3 then. Interesting.

    XCOM was good, but it has so many problems that it’s far from what it could be. Bugs, lack of maps, terrible endgame, giving aliens a free turn instead of making them smarter .. to name some of them.

    For me it was still a lot of fun to play, but I dislike it when the difficulty comes from crazy bonuses to AI with the nonsensical cover system instead of actually being surprised by them.

    Then again, it was still pretty entertaining and fun.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      For me the biggest problem was that it was so difficult to tell the to-hit% from a specific position without first moving there. You could move to a corner that was perpendicular to the enemy’s line of sight and be vulnerable. Very counter intuitive.

    • matnym says:

      For me the biggest problem was the fact that Firaxis, a company known for making great PC exclusive games, made a very average port. The mouse+keyboard controls were buggy and imprecise. The UI was greatly oversized with low res icons, massive fonts (so you had to scroll through every short list) and it wasn’t particularly point-and-click friendly.

      You know something is wrong when a gamepad is the better control option for a strategy game on PC.

    • ScorpionWasp says:

      But that’s the thing, the aliens don’t get a free turn, *you* do! You always have the jump on them; they can neither fire nor go on overwatch until you spot them first. Which means one turn of free firing for you before they can do anything aggressive at all. The game’s mechanics actually encourage boring, cheesy, unfair, time-consuming strategies. If you have the patience, the best thing to do is just have everyone on overwatch and wait as the helpless alien patrols stumble on you. If you don’t, you’d still be best served by moving a single soldier per turn and having everyone else on overwatch if no aliens are spotted. That way you always get an entire turn of free firing ahead of every group of aliens you encounter. That’s deeply flawed game design, and what surprises me is that that’s the ONE issue nobody ever complains about or even mentions.

      • Vurogj says:

        I don’t think people notice it much because they don’t seem to be playing that way. In my CI completion, my average turns per battle was over DOUBLE the global average, which suggests a lot of players out there are a whole lot more gung-ho, get in there and blast away than I am. I definitely agree with your point though.

      • Imbecile says:

        That isn’t strictly true. If you reveal the aliens with your last soldiers full move then the aliens get their scatter turn and then a full turn shooting at you. It basically rewards you more the earlier you spot the aliens in your turn cycle, which promotes caution and scouting same as the original.

    • epimorphism says:

      What about the Walking Dead?

  3. Tusque D'Ivoire says:

    Oh my!

    I read all those things about Far Cry, but didn’t believe that the upsides would outweigh the other terrible design choices. I guess I should check it out…

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      They don’t outweigh them. Wait for a sale

    • Lukaspz says:

      Yes they do, buy it now.

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        Just don’t do all the crafting and outposts / radio towers first or you’ll have nothing left to do on the first island. Apart from dragging yourself through the painful story missions.

        • ExplosiveCoot says:

          So you’re saying if I do all the side-content I won’t have any more side-content to do? That seems like a strange complaint.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            No, if you are looking for an open world game, doing the side content will exhaust all the open world game. FC3 has been praised for its freedom and open world- but all of that it’s done. Very quickly. The main meat of the game is not like the very things that are being most praised.
            My advice to new players is simply: ration it out

          • Lukaspz says:

            So yeah, like in every games, don’t rush… it’s been a long time i hadn’t so much fun in a FPS, but still not finished it, damn i’m getting old :(

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            Lol aren’t we all. Enjoy the rest of the game and Happy Christmas to you

          • Lukaspz says:

            ahah guess it’s true merry christmas mate :)

        • Gorf says:

          If you go into it thinking you’re getting a 100 hour open world Skyrim experience, then yeah thats probably why your grumpy.
          I like the plot and the fact its more focused, so for me it just the right length of game.

          and also……..mods.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            That is the impression I got from the reviews, with john etc talking of the many late nights spent in it. My experience is just so opposite to the one reported here on RPS.

          • Gorf says:

            I get the feeling from your posts that you paced the game differently to me (especially on the first island).
            I played along with the plot as I was moving around the island doing all the towers and the camps, in the sequence, or whatever, it felt like the devs where hoping ppl would (thats what it felt like anyway).
            I found it well paced, and the first Island especially flowed really well.But any way this is X COM day! :)

    • Eschatos says:

      So far I’ve been extremely disappointed in Far Cry 3. To be fair a big chunk of that is because it runs terribly on my PC, but the hunting is bland and uninspired, the enemy AI is terrible, and the skill tree is incredibly unbalanced.

      • Gorf says:

        Half way thru the game you’ll have almost every skill available,its not a game where you have to think about viable builds.
        The hunting is only necassary early on to craft your bags and its over quickly.
        Sorry your PC doesnt play nice with the game.

    • derbefrier says:

      sometimes I think some of you would enjoy games more if you quit focusing on the bad and trying to be a critic and just, you know played games and enjoyed them for what they were and have fun. no game is perfect, yet you all seem to expect perfection and are immensely disappointed with even the smallest problem. Far Cry 3 is a prime example of that. Its got a linear main story. big freaking deal what game doesn’t. It takes control of your character for a few seconds for certain story elements instead of switching to a cut scene, why is that such a big deal for some of you? It just seems like some people want so bad to not like this game for whatever reason they hung hung up on the most inconsequential things that in the grand scope of the game are so small that if you let it impede your enjoyment I have to think you just wanted to not like this game. Even if all those complaints were not there you would still manage to find some other reason to complain.

    • Shooop says:

      Try it out, but don’t buy it. Find someone else who has it or something. Once you complete the first half of the game the novelty quickly wears away and there’s not much substance under it.

  4. Inglourious Badger says:

    No! But that means day 24 is… is far cry 3 really that good? I need to get. Xcom is my game of year. Thats how to do a remake. Faithfully stick to the core gameplay but apply smart design to build a modern game around it, rather than just making it an FPS or an identikit copy

    • Cytrom says:

      Far cry 3 has some really great and fresh ideas, as well as the achievement that it finally perfected the “far cry gameplay” (open tropical setting, gameplay involving careful planning, scouting the objective area, then precisely executing your plan in total stealth mode, or just go full rambo, or approaching the problem however you see fit, both physically and method wise, with a bunch of fun toys), the story is great, with great characters and writing, and truly amazing things can happen totally spontaneously without heavy scripting.

      I believe it is really one of the best games of the year, but I don’t think it is worthy of a classic title though. It does have some obvious flaws, and all the good parts in the game are a bit short lived (I simply wanted more of these outpost takeovers, more of Vaas, more variety and fair challenge in exploration, more kinds of and more detailed side missions). I guess it’s a perfect base for dlcs and improved sequels though.

      I don’t think 2012 really topped last year. There were not one but multiple nearly flawless classic games with great quality and quantity of content (and STYLE) in 2011, while most of theese great games of 2012 are always just almost there, but always spoiling the greatness with minor or not so minor but obvious flaws.

      • Tacroy says:

        Huh which games were you thinking of in 2011? I’d guess Skyrim and DX:HR, but I can’t think of any more “nearly flawless” games (and it’s arguable whether or not Skyrim is nearly flawless).

        • yogibbear says:

          plus The Witcher 2, Dead Space 2, Portal 2, Batman: Arkham City perhaps?

        • Inglourious Badger says:

          Yeah, I think they mean 2011’s great games were greater, if lighter on the ground. Skyrim was a more complete open-world game than Far Cry 3 (form what I’ve heard of FC3). Batman was a better metroidvania-like than Darksiders 2. DX:HR was a better ‘looking glass-a-like’ than Dishonored.

          All this year I’ve felt like there weren’t that many good games, but they’ve all come out in the last couple of months in a rush. The exciting thing about 2012 is the fact triple-A games are branching out, they’re not all Uncharted or COD clones. Dishonored drew from Looking Glass games, XCOM made turn-based strategy a big budget blockbuster, Far Cry 3 kept striving for that ‘Far Cry’ formula that previews of the previous games promised but never quite delivered. It’s really good news and gives a lot more hope to the future than any of 2011’s endless sequels did.

    • DrunkDog says:

      Credit where it is due, Michael Mando’s performance of Vaas has been one of my gaming highlights. Absolutely brought me into the narrative and really gave me something tangible to fight against and propel my character through the story.

      I would like to think that we’ll see a turning point where games become a credible route for a performer to move onto bigger things. I would love to see more Mando on the big screen (although he already has a very impressive TV roster on his CV).

      • Gorf says:

        Abso fucking lutely! Vaas is just light years ahead of any other games bad guys….in recent memeory anyway.
        I need to stop talking about FC3 now.

  5. Sweedums says:

    I bought this game maybe 2-3 weeks ago now, and having just finished the campaign with ironman mode, i have to say its certainly one of my highlights of the year. I’m still not sure if i like that the entire thing comes down to one final mission with ironman mode on though, had i failed, i probably would have cried… but as i didn’t, i was able to shout “**** YEAH!” as soon as that final headshot came through and triggered the victory.

    i cant think of the last time i literally threw my fists into the air and shouted something like that so loud, upon completing a game.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      Even in ironman mode if you fail that one it just lets you restart it. On my first classic ironman playthrough I succeeded first try, but second time I lost my “chosen one”.

      • Sweedums says:

        oh ok cool, i didn’t know that. For the entire duration of the mission i was bricking it with fear of losing my entire campaigns progress lol.

  6. Didden says:

    Yes, I liked the style and quality of the finish graphically. But I found X-COM frustrating.

    It was far too easy on normal, and ridiculously unfair on hard mode (It basically cheated, and I hate cheating AI’s). One of the fan made patches helped fix it and balance it out nicely.

    But still, a lot of the base building felt pointless. Once you’ve got half way through the game, you don’t need to worry about research speed or anything like that.

    One play through and finish was more than enough for me. Not enough variety in options to make it that re-playable. Looking forward to Xenonauts more faithful attempt.

    • Vandelay says:

      Any more details on that fan mod? I started playing in Classic mode on Ironman. My first attempt went quite well for a while, but then quickly fell apart once the Chrysalids appeared. After that, I just couldn’t get much further then a couple of missions in without failing missions and losing entire squads. Knocking the difficulty down to normal just made the thing into a cakewalk and I lost all interest in playing.

      I did enjoy what I played of it, but my Steam time says I have only played 6 hours. I’ve not played the original X-Com, but hearing tales from that still makes me disappointed in the heavily orchestrated campaign that is in XCom. I imagine something more in the vein of a Civ campaign structure that lets you experiment with tech paths and different strategies would have been much more interesting. A DLC that added some form of free play mode would probably improve things, but there are a few inherent design decisions that I think would limit the potential of that.

      • jp0249107 says:

        It’s taking a decidedly long time to finish for a number of reasons that most every indie studio from Mojang to Project Zomboid to Castle Story provide. AI problems, UI coding taking a long time, and those damn bugs. Waiting just sucks I guess.

        But hopefully all that polish and delay will mean a great game that can be played over and over again and not the XCOM game mentioned above. I just couldn’t get into it because of the alien AI and free move junk so Xenonauts is my last hope.

      • WildcardUK says:

        I’ve tried a couple of mods and am greatly enjoying Warspace Extension on Classic Ironman (can be found on Xcom Nexus). The aim of the mod is to make the game a little more fair in as much as disasterous missions are more (not completely) likely to be because you played poorly rather than because your dice were unlucky. I’ve found it to be a very nice halfway between vanilla normal and vanilla classic. Vanilla classic felt immediately cheap as the early sectoids made critical hit one shot kill after critical hit one shot kill on me whilst my guys continued to fire warning shots into the air from 2 feet away. Don’t get me wrong though, you’ll still see your people miss a 95% point blank on a Chryssalid from time to time but it’s the exception rather than the rule.

        As a pleasant bonus the modder seems to have rejigged the class skills to make a lot more sense. For example, the first skill on the sniper is squadsight so every sniper has it and the support has the battle scanner in their tree. Much more like it!

        If your modding a Steam copy of the game set Steam to offline or it will automagically overwrite some of the mod’s changes, which makes it stupidly unbalanced. An easy test is if your frag grenades are doing 4 damage then you’re all good. If they’re doing 3 damage then Steam is making changes.


    • Godwhacker says:

      I actually managed to clear Classic Ironman- the excellent, excellent videos of Beaglerush are to thank for that- but then I didn’t feel the need to go back.

      The update took away a lot of the pain- spending 45 minutes walking around a farm in order to find a single sectoid, for example- but it also took away a lot of the flexibility. Luckily both are still playable.

  7. luukdeman111 says:

    Far cry 3 number 1…. seriously?

    I sorta hope it’s spec ops actually…… But not having Far cry in the list is also odd… Strange list you got here RPS…. But I like it…

  8. Meat Circus says:

    Far Cry 3 is your game of the year? Huh.

    A racist, broken playground which whilst a lot of fun offers little of anything substantial beyond juvenile wish fulfilment for the privileged overgrown man-children.

    I thought RPS stood for a little more than that in games. I was clearly mistaken.

    • NathanH says:

      Isn’t it obvious? The advent calendar is satire.

      • Ninja Foodstuff says:

        There were plenty of clues after all. What is a “Rock” if not something stubborn? And what of paper, with which to write “this is all a lie”. And a shotgun? I mean, they couldn’t make it more obvious. It is you, the foolish reader, with your desire to keep on reading, even when there’s no need!

      • Arren says:

        Pitch-perfect — touché!

    • BooleanBob says:

      Sometimes I’ve wondered why Alec front-loads his writing with pre-emptive, passive-aggressive sarcasm. Comments like this, though, make it only too clear why he feels the need.

    • icarussc says:


    • Michael Fogg says:

      It’s not too bad that the message sent to the industry is ‘we want organic open-ended gameplay’. However, the industry is probably aware of that, given the success of Skyrim, and even FC3 is said to be Skyrim with guns. The message of ‘we want tense turned-based tacictics’ would arguably be more worthy.

      • 2helix4u says:

        What bugged me about FC3 was that it looked organic and open and actually had the mission/checkpoint system of a corridor shooter.
        “Hey look at this poster, now you’re on a mission! Your other mission objective are unachievable because you looked at the poster! Ok you wanna quit the mission? Uh Oh we’re gonna have to void all your progress since you looked at the poster and reset you back to a travel point for no reason”

        • adonf says:

          What do you guys mean by ‘organic’ ? Obviously it’s not ‘carbon-based’

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        Except the message they might take away is that the public wants linear story-focused shooters with quicktime event boss fights, unskippable cutscenes, control taken away from the player routinely for dramatic effect, caricatured characters, ‘mature’ content purely for shock value, and a self-important plot.

        Half of Far Cry 3 is good. The other half is abysmal.

        • SuperNashwanPower says:

          So much this

        • AngusPrune says:

          So much of this.

          Microsoft Word needs a game designer Clippy that pops up in these circumstances. “You seem to be designing a quicktime event in your FPS. Do you want to be immediately fired? Because you are. Clean out your desk.”

          • WildcardUK says:

            I think game designer Clippy should launch into a 20 minute QTE to ‘dodge’ an incoming P45. Fail and their career is reset. I think they’ll learn their lesson whatever the outcome then :)

    • jp0249107 says:

      It’s hilarious how videogame culture has devolved into a Tumblr-in-Action parody constantly finding phantom racism and sexism. I wonder if those people understand they have become a caricature of every self-important “womyn’s studies” major who has no purpose in life but to point out things that don’t exist. It’s a man-shooting game on a tropical island and has nothing to do with race.

      • Jenks says:

        Man shooting game? Why not man and woman shooting game, or people shooting game? Let’s try a little harder to be inclusive around here.

    • Unaco says:

      It’s a video game. Surely the primary concern is… is it fun, or entertaining? It doesn’t have to be a post-colonial style post-modernist essay on the textual paradigm of consensus and neodeconstructive capitalist theory.

      Edit: Which game would you choose for the Hivemind to laud?

      • Gorf says:

        Excactly.This is what I said in a older post about FC3…..its the most fun and entertaining game Ive played this year, and thats why we do this right?

        • Synesthesia says:

          well, we could ask for, you know. More.

          • Unaco says:

            True. But I was more commenting on what the basis of a good game is. I’d rather play (and see on these lists) a good game with a sh*t story, than a sh*t game with a good story. Ask for more from, and add more to, good games. But the primary thing, the foundation, should be good game… build from there.

          • Gorf says:

            Honestly Its quite a hard year to decide what the most entertaining game was for me. I enjoyed XCOM, Dishonoured, Bordelands2, Max Payne3, Sleeping Dogs and many others that were’nt AAA games, all for different reasons, but I think FC3 just wins by a nose.

  9. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    It needs to be played on Classic difficulty

    I started it that way, but gave up after four entire squads were wiped out on my second mission (and I had basically run out of soldiers). It wasn’t even the slightest bit fun at that point.

    So I dialled it back down to Normal difficulty, but still Ironman. That was easier—probably too much easier. Losing squad members became a rarity. I’d have liked something between “kill me now” and “let me wipe the floor with you” difficulty.

    • WildcardUK says:

      If you’re up for another playthrough I recommend the Warspace Extension mod on Classic Ironman. It’s a nice halfway house between vanilla normal and vanilla classic with all of the cheap % to hit/critical unfairness taken out.

      If you do give it a go and you’re using Steam make sure Steam is in offline mode or it’ll overwrite some of the mod’s changing making the game unreasonably tough again. If your frags are doing 4 damage it’s working as intended.

  10. Syra says:

    What? Not number 1? Oh my.

  11. NathanH says:

    This is a really good game for the first playthrough (well—second playthrough: if you’re playing on Classic you’ll probably lose the first one) but sadly for a strategy game there’s not really much replayability at all. The best part of the game was the boardgame-like tactical battles, so hopefully they use that to make a game with an entirely different campaign tier, something more like Necromunda for example. And get rid of the silly “alien group activated!” mechanic, which is not a good one. I think the battle system would actually be better without fog of war at all, making it even more like a tabletop wargame.

    • Lacero says:

      People say it’s fairly modable, so I’m still sorta hoping for a necromunda mod.
      THQ won’t be making it with the 40K licence any time soon :(

      • khomotso says:

        Actually, no, it is relatively unmoddable. Modders have been bending over backwards to accomplish even the simplest things, and have only been able to accomplish what amounts to stat tweaking (e.g. reordering skill trees, altering damage, movement, health, aim bonus, etc.)

        This has been a huge disappointment. It feels like it *should* be very moddable, and even designed with that in mind, but Firaxis has not supported it, and is very stand-offish about releasing any modding tools.

        • AmateurScience says:

          It’s only been out a few months, even with Skyrim we had to wait several months for the mod tools. I imagine they may be waiting to finish releasing all their planned DLC before any kind of mod-kit.

    • OrangyTang says:

      The ‘alien group activated’ mechanic is my pet dislike for this game. It wouldn’t be too bad if the enemies had a limited movement range for it, or only went away from you into cover. But when you uncover a bunch of insectoids and they use their free turn to rampage right up to your squad it feels cheaty as hell.

      I didn’t find the fog of war that bad, but I could see a case for removing it, or at least being able to see terrain but not units not in view. Or being able to see terrain + units when outside, but not inside buildings without direct line of sight. In such a high tech world it seems silly that you wouldn’t already have a map of the area or a spy drone hovering overhead.

      • NathanH says:

        I generally dislike fog of war in tactical games, because it tends to encourage tedious play and “randomized” results. Alien activation! made this more obvious in XCOM, but I think it would occur without it. You’d still move up slowly to make sure you don’t wander into an alien’s line of sight without good backup, you’d still keep a relatively narrow front because you don’t want to wander into aliens on one flank where you can’t support your soldier, and so on.

        It would definitely work better without alien activation! because at least you’d be able to play properly once you had contact with aliens (instead of trying to avoid flanking and advancing as much as possible in case you activate a new group). But I do think the battle system would work better if it simulated a tabletop wargame more closely. I especially get this feeling from multiplayer games.

  12. MeestaNob says:

    Some thoughts:
    1) I wish the base building and tech tree especially was more… in depth. The research aspect is just not complicated enough to be interesting, and might as well be auto managed by the AI.
    2) I wish you could train your bench warmers more than just buying the meagre experience upgrade from the barracks. New troops are utterly useless, and using a group of them after the spectacular and deadly failure of your veterans in the previous mission can cause a cascading series of failures which are impossible to recover from.

    I like this game, and I like that it exists. I just wish it was more than what lies in plain sight.

  13. khomotso says:

    It’s good and right that XCOM is among the interesting also-rans, and not at the top of the heap. But I think they all should have been, and it might have been better to not even single out 24 as something extra special. After we’ve run through 23, and looking at what remains, it’s clear that this was a grab-bag year: breadth, something for almost every taste, but not a clear standout.

    • Sander Bos says:

      What do you think was a better year? When this advent calendar started I looked at previous lists and only found 2007 to have better vintage (remarkably better , google for rps complete fairtrade).
      It was a great year for games. Not so sure about this list though…

      • Prime says:

        Next year should be interesting, with more of the Kickstarter projects starting to release.

      • khomotso says:

        I, too, think it was a great year for games. I just don’t think it was a year for great games.

        • Sander Bos says:

          I you put it like that, you are correct. I have just been rereading a few Bioshock articles and you could not have such long in-depth discussions about games released this year. Having said that, since I will never play one game for more than 10 hours the breadth is what I like about this year.

    • Sander Bos says:

      Max Payne 3
      Assassin’s Creed III
      Darksiders II
      Diablo III
      Hitman: Absolution
      All 80+% on metacritic, all not good enough for this list (and let me add Spec Ops: The Line, which certainly offered something non standard according to many)

  14. westyfield says:

    Wow, I was sure XCOM would be day 24. Sadly this means that Endless Space isn’t going to get a day. :(

    • Bracknellexile says:

      Yeah, I was hoping Endless Space might get a mention too. Maye RPS will do an end-of-year “other nominees” round-up as there are a few other games, from the 5-minute throwaway to the epic strategy that could have made the list and are worthy of mention.

      • Zenicetus says:

        I was surprised not to see Endless Space. However, on second thought, I guess it does have a problem with being superficially very polished, but also feeling a bit empty at the core. It’s more of a work-in-progress than a finished game that would rate a “best of 2012” list like this.

        There should be a special category for games with long-term, continued development that take more than a year to reach their full potential like ES, Civ V, Rise of Flight, etc.

  15. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I do wonder if maybe space marines and darksiders ii should have made the cut.

    • Prime says:

      I thought Space Marines was generally considered a bit rubbish?

    • MeestaNob says:

      Space Marines was very average, they did almost nothing with a limitless source material. It was vaguely fun despite their best efforts to… make no effort.

      • 2helix4u says:

        Space marine had the worst audio logs in a game ever, which is dumb as hell considering they could literally just pull quotes from the rulebooks.
        The people making it also never played the game they were making. They made a 3rd person shooter with no cover and melee kills as the only way to regen health. Then they made you able to be damaged in the varying length execution animations and populated the ork levels with unreachable shooty orks. Bad.

        Then, in a game with no way to take cover and an emphasis on melee, they give you a 30 minute sequence of just fighting the same turrets over and over. To fight them you need to stand behind a pillar and fire through the pillar with the magical boltgun at them while they cant see you. You do this for 3 clips then move onto the next turret and repeat.

        One of the worst executed games I’ve played in a loooong time.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      bah, I meant Max Payne 3 rather than Space Marine. It seemed to be rather the thing at the time, and then quickly forgotten.

  16. Yachmenev says:

    Oh, I wanted it to their GOTY. :\ It sure is mine.

  17. Premium User Badge

    FhnuZoag says:

    Huh, this is surprising. I didn’t think the hive mind liked Far Cry 3 that much. But what options remain?

    Farming simulator 2013?
    Cart life?

    XCOM probably is my GOTY though.

    • Zeewolf says:

      I’m pretty sure that, if this is about important games, the most likely alternative is Spec Ops. Far Cry 3 is … I don’t know. It’s not important, it’s just a fun game (even if it is a bit too big for its own good).

    • greenbananas says:

      Cart Life!? Hmm. Is it up for consideration, having come out sometime last year? The WIT was in early ’12 so maybe…

      I can’t think of a title more deserving of the distinction, bugs or not.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The War Z.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      Someone called it earlier with ‘super hexagon’ I reckon. There’s been no WIT and little coverage of a game that is both amazing and by Terry Cavanagh. My money is on this being set up as a surprise No.1.

      Oh alright I don’t really believe this, but it would be cool.

  18. Prime says:

    I love how most of the comments so far are all about the next game in the calendar, rather than commenting on the one we have here. RPS: subverting expectation yet again, Good stuff. :)

    I’m a gamer for whom the original X-com passed me by. I now own it but I’ve never managed to sit and play it for any length of time, although attempts have been made. But listening to the huge amounts of worship for the original made this re-interpretation a great development story to follow and I’m actually very keen to try this one for myself. They look like they’ve done a good job, modernising in a very sensible, logical manner and, above all, being brave enough to ignore fandom where it was deemed necessary. For that alone I think this game should be applauded to the heavens and back again.

    • Ernesto25 says:

      This pretty much, i only played the x-com demo and the game i don’t think appeals to me but i wouldn’t be bothered if it was GOTY over FC3 or (insert favorite game here). Especially when comparing different genres. I liked how this list wasn’t in an order though and that just in general the reviews on rps do away with the silly scoring system.

    • Sander Bos says:

      They should have announced games 1 and 2 at the same time (the miss universe approach of announcing the winner before the runner up would not have worked).
      And yeah, day 23 does not mean runner up blah blah blah.

      • Ernesto25 says:

        Yup i totally agr….WAIT max paye 3 didn’t make the cut oh noes!

        But yeah it was clearly explained that 1 game was goty and the rest were simply just very good what a damning label to wear.

      • Eddy9000 says:

        It wouldn’t make any difference. Think about it.

        • Sander Bos says:

          Okay, I thought about it, and I think the difference would be that this thread would focus on comments liking or disliking X-Com, instead of being about a bunch of list-related-topics like it is now. In fact, now that you made me think about it, there should be multiple posts tomorrow, one for Far Cry 3 and one for let’s say meta-discussion about the list in general.

    • almostDead says:

      The game is a true delight, but it has a stunning lack of replayability due to it being so scripted regarding progression, and there really being only one correct way to play the strategic layer- engineers and satellites.

  19. NathanH says:

    It’s very much like a board game or tabletop wargame actually. In fact apart from line-of-sight and fog-of-war I think the whole game could be played reasonably well as a tabletop wargame.

    • jayc4life says:

      The early prototype for the game actually was a tabletop boardgame, so the similarities aren’t coincidental. If I had more friends that were into that kind of thing, I’d play the hell out of an XCOM boardgame. Soldiers with stat sheets and different declared loadouts, and a “Dungeon Master” in control of the alien forces, I’d imagine it’s not too far off what HeroQuest played like.

      • Bracknellexile says:

        I’d buy that in an instant! My first thought on playing XCOM was that it was a sci-fi take on Descent (v2), right down to the odd line-of-sight rules, but yeah I can see the HeroQuest too.

    • Stevostin says:

      It would then be obvious the game mechanics are very far from good enough to be interesting on the long run.

  20. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    I agree. If FC3 doesn’t make it onto a list of the best 24 PC games of the year, I would find it….um….very interesting to say the least. On face-value, it has to be surely? Even putting aside the (perceived by some) issues that have little to with the actual fun gameplay, it’s going to be a fascinating argument from RPS to try and explain how it couldn’t make the list.

    But likewise, I’d also be quite surprised if RPS really thought it was the best game of the year.

    So either way it’s going to be an interesting decision. :)

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      The most surprising thing is that one third of FC3 is stuff that, usually on RPS would be the recipient of a lengthy SOMETHING-FACE post. Constant Unavoidable cutscenes, QTE’s, limitation of freedom and an emptiness to the world that, were it in RAGE would be rightly criticized.

      I got 3 hours of open world game play from FC3 and was then forced to do the dreadful story before I could reach the second island- which is again mostly dead because a Story twist renders the island friendly. Some more open maps (though still restricted) later in the game do make up a little, but when I read the glowing praise it’s getting I feel like I’m playing a different game.

      • F3ck says:

        You aren’t wrong – about a third of of it is exactly what you said: bullshit – but two thirds of it is exactly what most of us do want: sandbox, stealth, weapon customization, context-sensitive AI, and fucking wing-suits…

        …this is one of the reasons the arguments about the subject matter were so frustrating to me; it’s a distraction from the more important issues (video game-wise) like: why the scripted bullshit? Why bother to serve linear game-play w/ open-world setting (nobody wants that)?

        Look, when FC2 came out everybody whined about the story/characters (or lack thereof) when all I wanted was more to do in that gorgeous open jungle…now here comes FC3 and – low and behold it’s a fucking Bruckheimer production and that’s all anyone’s talking about…instead of being one-third away from a great game.

        …looking for deep, meaningful story telling in any Far Cry game is fucking idiotic…also…

        Nowhere in Rage can you melee a bear, let it chase you into an enemy encampment, hijack a dune-buggy, drive it off a cliff and squirrel-suit to safety…those moments make FC3 superb at times.

        …Far Cry 3 was 1/3 shit and 2/3 wonderful…Rage was 3/4 shit and 1/3 styrofoam.

  21. AmateurScience says:

    Probably my personal favourite this year. It’s certainly the game that’s invoked the greatest range of emotions, and cries of ‘THAT’S STATISTICALLY IMPROBABLE!’.

    This, Dark Souls and FTL are the games topping my ‘most played’ list, but I also really enjoyed Dishonoured and am currently sinking my teeth into Far Cry 3.

    I think it’s been a great year all told.

    Here’s to the next one!

    • Gorf says:

      This and FC3 is my favourite this year too, but Dark Souls will always be my favourite favourite (700hrs+ since 2011 will attest to that).

      • F3ck says:

        Hey Gorf,

        Can you tell what your DS set up is like (controller? mouse? mods?), please?

        I’m trying to make it run decently [I’m just shooting for playable] on my rig and researching any leads/possibilities…


        [edit] Nvmnd – found the page

    • plugmonkey says:

      My problem with the ‘statistical improbability’ is that it seemed to very much go away when I bumped the difficulty down to normal, and then immediately return when put it back up to hard; leading me to believe they were telling me I had an 80% chance to hit when I actually had nothing close to that.

      If I feel I can’t trust the information upon which I am basing my decisions, then the decisions become meaningless.

  22. ShatteredAwe says:

    I’ve already “voted’ I suppose. But I hope that Endless space gets a mention. The dves are very dedicated to thir gans.

  23. TheManfromAntarctica says:

    What about Diablo 3 or Black Mesa?

  24. bigjig says:

    XCOM is a good game sure, at least it gets the ‘battlescape’ parts mostly right, but I can’t really say it captured the magic of the original. I know it’s kind of an unfair comparison because the original game is one of the best games of all time, but the over focus on a narrative story ultimately killed the game for me. I loved the emergent style gameplay of the original, so it was disappointing to see the ‘geoscape’ portion of the game quite streamlined. Hopefully Firaxis can work to improve replayability with added maps, armor and weapon choices, alien types and more random UFOs etc., but if recent DLC is any indication I’m not holding my breath.

    The bugs, while minor annoyances, really got under my nerves after a while. It’s no fun to strategically position your troops only to have a sectopod teleport into the middle of your group and take out two of your best soldiers. It’s a shame too, because I preferred the tension of ironman mode, but this can almost ruin the experience. The PC UI isn’t terrible, but it has clearly been designed with a controller first and foremost in mind. I ended up just playing with my console box controller because it just felt more intuitive.

  25. skinlo says:

    I will be telling you my GoTY next year this time after all the games have come down to under a tenner on Steam.

    • Sander Bos says:

      What’s your favorite 2011 game bought/ played in 2012? :-)
      (mine is Bulletstorm I think, biggest surprise at least)
      Related: Any best games list of 2012 released before February 2013 is not worth discussing…

      • NathanH says:

        My favourite 2011 game played this year is Deus Ex: Human Resources. It’s really high quality stuff.

      • Prolar Bear says:

        Dark Souls. Although I guess it counts as 2012 game…
        No, seriously, it is my game of the year. Incredibly deep mechanics, great art design that lends itself well to interpretation (plus some nice literature throwbacks); I’d say its only flaw is the need for an online wiki to discover most hidden things, some of which are fairly important to the economy of the game.

        • Dominic White says:

          It should be noted that all those hidden things had to be discovered the old-fashioned way (just poking around and exploring) before anyone could document them. Sure, you can use a wiki to access things easier, but that’s kinda missing the point.

          One of the most satisfying elements of the game for me was discovering secrets by myself. I’d often be barking up the wrong tree or reading too much into just incidental texts, but that kind of exploration is so rare in games these days.

          • Prolar Bear says:

            I know, I know, I fully agree! I mean, obscurity is the whole point.

            But I think that some clarity would’ve benefited the game in some occasions: the Chaos Servant covenant is fairly difficult to discover without a wiki (why the hell would you roll into a random wall, without any clues?). And the Chaos Servant *SPOILER* is the only way to save Solaire – except that even saving Solaire is fairly difficult to do, because farming 30 humanity for the Chaos Witch is no ordinary task, especially counting the inability to speak to her without the ring. On top of that, you have to use the shortcut or it’ll be a vain effort.

            That said, I loved DS, thanks in no small part to its (terrifying) vagueness.

          • Gorf says:

            ….and how many ppl will lay down in a coffin for 5 minutes while nothing is happening.

        • Dominic White says:

          5 minutes? It’s a particularly conspicuous coffin (it sticks out further than any other), and it gives you a prompt to climb into it when you stand beside it. And then you need to wait 30 seconds, which isn’t exactly much.

          • Gorf says:

            OK, blatent exaggeration on the time limit.
            On my first playthru I noticed the coffin laid down in it and waited for a while, nothing happened, so I assumed I had missed somthing, or an event was yet to happen, so it wasnt until my NG+ and I had read a wiki entry that i waited in the coffin for the right amount of time to be teleported.
            The point is that the devs intended the game to have an old school sharing of information thing, so reading a wiki to get to the ultra obscure stuff is totally legit IMO.

          • Prolar Bear says:

            Indeed. Plus the Gravelord covenant is about the online aspects of the game, while the Chaos Servant is exclusively geared towards the opening of the shortcut.

            OT: hold your colour

          • Prolar Bear says:

            Gorf: Yeah, makes sense. In my humble opinion a wiki isn’t really old school…if the game had a random component in the drops or enemy placementselection one could follow a wiki and still enjoy some surprises.

            But ohwell, the main point is that Dark Souls is a masterpiece.

          • Gorf says:

            Prolar Bear, nope wiki is definately not old school but its what we use now.
            There is only a certain amount of hidden content that will be found, (in Dominics words), by old fashioned poking around and exploring. The rest of that good stuff is found by Knowing what to do and when to do it. So unless you have a particularly strong talent for out of the box thinking and experimenting, a single playthru is only going to give players a limited amount of that content.
            Basically, for most ppl ths is one game that wont be ruined by reading a wiki, infact it will make it far more enjoyable.

          • eclipse mattaru says:

            @Prolar Bear: Actually, the Chaos Servant grants you access to two pretty awesome pyromancies as well. In fact, it’s been the only covenant I found a use for, what my low-faith / low-int character.

            On the other hand, being part of it might be one of the reasons why I get so few summon signs too.

            In any case, I really like to see Dark Souls popping up in pretty much every thread in RPS :D

          • Prolar Bear says:

            @Gorf: yeah I guess I would’ve spent far more time on my first playthrough without a wiki. My conflicted self just doesn’t feel too okay with this, so I’m doing a new playthrough blind (lotsa places I haven’t visited at all).

            Hmmm true, I got my pyromancy glove from the eggbloke because I skipped the Depths…which was actually useless by the time I got it (before doing Demon Ruins), without upgrades.
            On a side note, GFWL doesn’t work for me in my other apartment, and this makes me rage. Tried enabling and disabling upnp and still doesn’t work.

  26. Dare_Wreck says:

    People keep joking about WarZ being day #24, but what about Day Z? Would it unprecedented for a mod to be top game of 2012?

  27. Prolar Bear says:

    I think RPS is successfully trolling everybody into thinking that FC3 is GOTY. And I also think that number 24 is going to be either an outsider (unmechanical?) or a silly game.

    That is, Farming Simulator 2013.

  28. USER47 says:

    I feel like the game of the year might be Spec Ops in the end. I mean, Far Cry 3 is good and everything, but most of the games in this calendar are interesting, inovative or in other ways significant. FC3 just isn’t. It’s a nice polished fun game, but not much more.

    Spec Ops are in many ways flawed and they don’t completely succeed in what they are trying to do, but at least they are different. They are trying to inovate the genre and show the finger to silly “lets-kill-1000-terrorists-oorah” manshooters.

    I would be quite dissapointed if they chose FC3 after including things like Waking Mars or Lone Survivor in the rest of the calendar.

  29. malkav11 says:

    I can attest to loss still very much being a part of normal difficulty.

  30. IneptFromRussia says:

    Really doubt it will be Far Cry 3, it probably will be Spec Ops: The Line, because it was pretty important addition to gaming entertainment. Maybe…

  31. Baal_Sagoth says:

    Ah, such a good game in my opinion. Aside from FTL this not only impressed me the most but it also occupied massive amounts of my gaming time. I really enjoyed having another glorious turn-based game, a genre that only occasionally does it for me. It certainly is my personal favourite game this year.
    Now I actually hope SpecOps might take the 24th position (one can dream…). I wouldn’t be exceptionally crazy about FC3 taking that spot since it seems to be a little shallow in the open world bits and a little misguided in the narrative parts. Then again, this isn’t my list of course and I’m excited to see what you’ve got in store tommorrow!

  32. Elmokki says:

    I’m a bit disappointed that XCOM was was mentioned “something special” when the calendar started. While I suppose it may be one of the 24 best games of the year, it was very dissapointing and had in my opinion left a ton of potential unused by oversimplifying the game. But this may well be because my expectations were high.

    I am however genuinely dissapointed if tomorrow’s game is Far Cry 3. The problem with Far Cry 3 is that while it fixes most of the problems with Far Cry 2, it also does so many things wrong. It is a ludicrously easy game. It is a very repetative game. There are also things with AI that kind of bug me. It, too, probably can be counted as one of the 24 best games of the year, but I personally believe there are far better games that have been mentioned already.

  33. Gaytard Fondue says:

    I wish wikipedia had articles like this. link to
    Says a lot about the game and it’s attention to detail while being hilarious.
    Seriously, read the image captures.

  34. gnargle says:

    I guess FC3 is number 1, then? I mean, obviously it should be Super Hexagon since that’s probably the best game ever designed, but I’m happy with that.

  35. Brise Bonbons says:

    “I’m a gamer for whom the original X-com passed me by….”

    I had the same experience, missing the original game back in the day. Just picked it and the XCOM demo (and Xenonauts alpha, for that matter) up at about the same time. My experience was that the XCOM demo was very polished but was far too board-gamey for my taste, so I just started playing the original and never looked back. Based on what I’ve read of XCOM since then, I think I made the right choice for my taste.

    Xenonauts seems right up my alley (I prefer its naturalistic art style to the original’s comic book sprites), but the alpha was too limited to catch my interest. I’ll happily grab it when it launches if it has good map variety.

    EDIT: This was a reply to Prime on the last page, but comment fail. Guess I can leave it here without losing any meaning.

  36. WildcardUK says:

    XCOM is certainly my game of the year. As a huge fan of the original I was dubious about their ability to capture the je ne sais quoi that made it great but I feel like they did. The air has been full of swears as one of my troops has missed that 90% must hit on a Chryssalid and howls of delight as a rookie has made a sublime 15% shot into full cover to save the mission going bad. The soldier skills add some nice tactical options and the kill cams and soldier barks really add to the drama (for me at least). I love it when one of my guys yells ‘Oh it’s GO TIME’ when the aliens roll up out of the fog.

    It’s not perfect though. The free move can be incredibly cheap if the aliens take a turn to advance into view, that damn cutscene plays AGAIN (another complaint), and then they use their free move to flank you because they’ve already closed half the distance to you. ***SLIGHT EARLY SPOILER*** The Floater’s auto flank skill can be horribly unfair and was a ridiculous thing to add from a balance perspective ***SPOILER OVER***. The cover mechanic can be a bit wonky and the fact that someone created a graphic to explain it speaks volumes. I should be allowed to pick up a damn medkit from a fallen soldier to stabilise them! I should also be able to use multiple interceptors to take down a single UFO. And there are also a few balance issues but I found the Warspace Extension mod fixed most of those for me.

    As I said, on balance a great game and, minor flaws aside, it’s created highs and lows like no other this year.

    Edited for me sucking at links :)

    • Baal_Sagoth says:

      In a way you can use multiple aircraft for an interception. You can send another one after you’ve aborted an assault or lost entirely. The UFO contact doesn’t disappear immediately. Maybe that’s not what you really want out of that feature though since multiple interceptors at once aren’t an option.
      The medpack thing is a very unfortunate drawback of the streamlined tactical battles. I like that I don’t have to micromanage loot and inventory on the battlefield but that particular consequence infuriated me on occasion.

      • WildcardUK says:

        Yeah an interceptor procession is better than nothing. I think I just wanted a little more depth to the aeriel battles but it’s a minor quibble. If I’m looking for a silver lining then I suppose watching my medic slowly bleed out added to the drama haha!

  37. jhng says:

    Can it be Super Hexagon? Can it?

    For my money that is the game this year that could really become a lasting classic — up there with Pac Man, Space Invaders or Tetris. My only reservation about its 24ness is that it should really be considered iOS rather than PC in its heart — so maybe not really in the site’s frame of reference.

  38. Cytrom says:

    The most memorable game this year for me is probably Mass Effect 3. Even with the devastating ending, it was still the apex of an epic journey I will never forget.

  39. Grey_Ghost says:

    I was never into the original games, and I didn’t really care about this game until seeing a couple “Lets Plays”.

    I’ve enjoyed the 40 hours (so Steam tell me) I’ve put into the game. I like the cinematic approaches to some of the game, though I see how that can get old on more playthroughs. There really is no replay potential in the game for me, unless I artificially handicap myself. Otherwise it mostly just ends up more of the same.

    MODs could definitely keep me interested in the game enough to get me to replay it multiple times, but the developers didn’t make it convenient to do this. This has severely affected my opinion of them. Honestly now, how does anyone expect their game to stay relevant for very long nowadays without even basic MOD support?

    The DLC so far has been saddening… Just an utter waste really. They don’t add any replay value to the game, so what is the point?

  40. Dariune says:

    Thank god this wasn’t game of the year. It was ok, but it wasn’t great.

    It would have been a shame if such an average game had been RPS’s favourite this year!

    • Gaytard Fondue says:

      But you’re fine with a bland, mediocre manshoot?

    • WildcardUK says:

      I think you mean ‘it would be a shame if I didn’t agree with RPS’ game of the year’.

      • Dariune says:

        I think we can assume that the opinion I expressed above was just my opinion so yes that is what I meant and congratulations for figuing that out.

        I actually don’t generally play FPS so I don’t have an opinion on Farcry 3 so I guess I’m happier with that being the Christmas number 1 than a game which IMO (so wildcard doesnt get upset again) didnt live up to its potential.

  41. pbnjoe says:

    Actually, we spell it “cheque” in Canada as well. Only in the States do they say check I believe.

    Edit: Umm, ok, let’s try that again, actually replying this time.

    … OK, now the thread doesn’t even exist. Pah.

  42. plugmonkey says:

    I was really enjoying this, until the suspicion that they were fudging the hit %s to raise the difficulty became inescapable. Then I stopped playing and haven’t been back to it yet.

    Looking back, the pre-canned decisions were weak, and the six man squad limit really hurt the game. If my A team aren’t available, then I’m looking at min 50% casualties, which I just can’t manage on a 6 man team. Then it became too much about your high level soldiers. They took away the plan B.

    Actually, they took away almost all of the plan B’s, which kind of tears the heart out of X-Com. I really hope they do a sequel, as I loved the updated combat mechanics (phony numbers aside), but for me, the metagame went a long way wide of the mark.

  43. SuicideARG says:

    Im calling for Journey

    • plugmonkey says:

      The PS3 exclusive? On this, the PC gaming blog?

      It would be an interesting choice, I’ll give you that.

      • Sander Bos says:

        It should totally be Journey. It’s the ‘games of Christmas’, nowhere does it say PC games of Christmas. Also, I think they go for non-conventional choices, this would fit the bill (although Journey does appear on many best of the year lists).

  44. bill says:

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m happy that I might have the chance to finally experience what all the X-COM fans have been going on about, but in a more newbie friendly package.

    • plugmonkey says:

      You won’t find out what we were all on about by playing this.

      If that’s your goal, I’d suggest keeping your eye on some of the more straight remakes, like Xenonauts.

      They always tend to look a bit soulless to me, but if ‘UFO but a bit more newbie friendly’ is what you’re after, that would be a better place to start.

      Still play this, mind you, it’s a great game in its own right. Just don’t play it in place of the original.

      The best way to find out what all the fuss around UFO is about remains to play UFO. Get it off Steam an invest and hour of effort in it. I know it’s unfashionable these days, but sometimes it pays off.

  45. Vander says:

    I found this game to be average.

    The fact that it is not “simulationist” like the original, the strategy layer who is dumbed down and scripted, the lack of replay value, the boring research, the lack of inventory, the combat system who display obviously false percentages, the badly calibrated difficulty, and much more, made this game a bid disappointment for me.

    What also disappointed me was the coverage of RPS on the game: It was one of the very rare occurrence when i felt i was not well informed on the strength and weaknesses of the game. Not that i imply that is corruption, to be clear, just that Alec (i think it was him) dropped the ball, especially in the previews article who did not point out enough the flaws. But its my fault, i should not have bought it day one…

  46. Core says:

    Where is the last window? This suspense is killing me.

  47. Kamos says:

    I bought XCOM and I wish I could get my money back.

    The strategic overlay is a mess, you don’t play against the aliens but against a script spawning missions. Then you have the tactical battles which are on full retarded, with all sorts of wonky mechanics, i.e. aliens jumping around when you find them, the lack of line of sight, etc.

  48. Stevostin says:

    Ok, I finished it and I feel the strong need to tell no one (I assume no one will read) What I Think.

    From where I live (France), X-Com, the first game, was not highly rated in the PC press I read at that time. 6, maybe 7 on 10… “pretty poorly designed turn based strategy game” was the idea. And at that time, they were plenty of highly praised ones (and they deserved it). Now with that reboot of the franchise, and now reading RPS, I realized that X-Com was a cult game for a lot of people. I thought the french reviews from back in the days got it wrong: wouldn’t have been the only time.

    Turn out they probably didn’t.

    I don’t know what’s the fascination with this new X-Com here but there is one thing that it’s not: a good turned based game. Good turned based strategy are about making the good decisions. Good decisions is based on information. Ability to inform before you decide is tragically lacking from X-Com because of very wrong core design decisions. Even if you push the very poor scouting mechanics and achieve to see without being seen, the second you’ll act you’ll get an animation, everyone will miss their overwatch shoot and then hostiles will move randomly at position that you can’t foresee, hence make interesting decision with. The fact that the line of sight is bugged (sometime you can shoot behind walls, sometimes not in front of you), the fact that you can move, know that you’ve seen an hostile one tile in the path but not where (wtf ?), it’s just not interesting. Ho, it’s tactical, as in : get the basics or you’ll die. You get the basics in less than 10 missions, then it’s always the same. Occasionally, because the damn thing is so damn slow, crowded with painfully large squads (6 units, you spend just your time to tell them to catch up with the lead), you quicksave, run into the emptiness until you happen to reach a point where there are hostile, then reload last turn. Poor design, line of view needed to be way longer than what they are (like… in real life, maybe ? Oh, in X-Com, even the most advanced sniper absolutely can’t shoot a bloody elephant at 50 meters). You make “reasonably good choice” (not difficult: just progress packed but not too packed, from cover to cover) and wait for random popups and random rolls. I’ve read “luck” to be seen as a good thing in anglo saxon culture and not in latin one, so maybe that’s the difference here: rolls kind of ruin it for me, especially when there are quicksaves (“there is randomness but we don’t assume it”, says the developper…)

    On the top of that everything in the game is just below the average. Below the average writing, design, music, sound, whatever. The only thing done very well is progression and I admit I have been hooked to the game because yes, you’re always waiting for something (that will hopefully make the game interesting, explaining the press). But the second I went through the (below average) ending, I uninstalled it. What a waste of my time, of my interest, how many way better games I could have play instead. Turn based strategy deserves better that this kind of come back.