Developer: Firaxis Publisher: 2K Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360 Release Date: 15 November
The original XCOM: Enemy Unknown falls apart once you know what you’re doing and feel enough confidence that you’re able to do it, which is ironic - you’re supposedly the last bastion holding out against an encroaching alien menace which threatens to take over the planet with technology no human has ever seen; the last thing that you’d expect to feel in that situation is bravado.
This stress balance falls apart a few hours in. It’s scary enough at the start, but if you play well you’ll soon get past this. Once you've built up a few rotations of squad members that have skills complementary to your play-style and researched technology which keeps them alive and further boosts their usefulness, and you're all set. This problem is especially apparent any time you replay the game and find it effortless to devise effective ways to advance without any monetary wastage. Your tactics for each encounter are flawless and missions go off without a hitch.
The new expansion, XCOM: Enemy Within, sets out to undermine your entire game plan.
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At a recent preview event we were able to see an additional wrinkle that this add-on provides to the original game. It adds human forces hostile to XCOM and working to aid the aliens. These groups act as splinter cells, each functioning individually in countries across the world. Their skills and equipment don’t quite outmatch XCOM, but their numbers are far above that of the organisation.
In order to combat their presence in a country, you initially need to send in an infiltrator unit who will be removed from active service until they’re ready to call in a mission. This operative can be almost anyone in your active roster of soldiers. It’s beneficial to pick someone highly skilled because they’ll have more health and abilities, but you’ll have to do without them in other missions for the time being. They’re unable to bring a weapon larger than a pistol, nor any armour, just a piece of tech. This makes them highly vulnerable to attack when the mission begins, yet they’re also the most important person there.
After time passes and you’re alerted by your spy, one of two possible modes will begin. Your XCOM squad will have to prevent a terminal in an area from being hacked, or they have to hack terminals themselves to collect data and run back to transport without being killed.