XCOM’s 2013 squad-based shooter spin-off The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is available free for the next day-and-a-bit from the Humble Store. Our Alec will tell you it’s one of those enjoyable-enough 7/10 perfectly average action games, which makes it not bad as a freebie. Me, my interests are slightly more morbid: I want to see the game which changed form wildly as its development dragged on and ultimately was the final game from BioShock 2 studio 2K Marin before 2K killed them. Also I want to shoot aliens with zapguns.
The Bureau is set in the ’60s, pitting those marvellous moonmen against fellas who wore fedoras because that was just the fashion of the day and it wasn’t a bold statement then. Equipped with retro-futuristic weapons and tools, players are sent to blast them to pieces in third-person action, supported by squadmates who can be ordered about. Check out Alec’s review for more on that.
It’s also a game which arrived years later than intended, switching from something first-person BioShock-lookin’ to a third-person cover shooter in that time. I still like the suggestions of unknowable alien horror and powerlessness in the 2010 trailer, back when the game was simply called XCOM:
Back when XCOM/The Bureau was first announced, 2K said they were making another XCOM shooter rather than a tactical game because they had the name lying around and because “strategy games are just not contemporary.” Welp. The drawn-out development of The Bureau, which I’d imagine was in part due to 2K reshaping the game following fan kickback against them saying daft things like that, ended in the corporate death of its makers. The whole thing still seems a terrible shame.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a 2012 reboot of the turn-based tactical games, actually ended up coming out before The Bureau. That line is still doing just grand, most recently with XCOM 2: War of the Chosen.
Swing on by the Humble Store for a free Steam key for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. You’ve got until 6pm on Saturday (10am Pacific) to grab one.