E3 2010: XCOM Is a "Strategic Shooter" in Name Only

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

E3 2010: XCOM Is a "Strategic Shooter" in Name Only

image

XCOM is big on 50s flavor, but where's the strategy?

For many, the title X-COM brings back fond memories of tactical turn-based strategy. 2K Marin's reboot of the franchise is gunning for a more visceral first-person experience. In a room decked out with many 1950s stereotypes of wholesomeness and Donna Reed-style décor, producer Drew Smith and designer Harvey Whitney showed us what this new XCOM is all about.

You play as William Carter, a special agent in charge of a secret organization called XCOM. Carter is the guy who discovered an alien artifact that portended the invasion that's now taking place, and instigated the creation of XCOM. The demo began by taking us into the base of operations which was hidden in a non-descript airplane hangar. The flavor of the 50s is in abundance, with agents quipping as Carter walks by, "I don't like the feeling that someone's looking up my wazoo with a microscope, you know what I'm saying?" Only a clean-cut agent from that age would use a word like "wazoo" and actually mean it.

At the comm center is a map of the United States where all of the information gleaned from radio and police broadcasts is filtered for possible alien activity. The map shows possible missions that you can undertake, from helping a woman's 911 (did they have 911 in the 50s?) distress call to ways to gain money or Elerium. "Elerium is an alien resource that we need to keep XCOM going," says Smith. "We can also go collect money, we can go do research, etc. You should note that when you pick a mission, you're doing something at the potential sacrifice of another mission. If we take, for example, the California mission, then the Montana or Oklahoma missions may not be available when you come back." I suppose that this is a strategic decision but it feels like the player will be missing out on content instead of feeling that they are making a strong choice.

The demo went with the woman's distress call in California, but first we have to pick up some new tech gizmos. A scientist named Mal has been using the alien artifact that Carter found, along with Elerium, to make weapons that use the alien's tech against them. We grabbed a glass vial filled with parts of a black blob (an enemy that you encounter in the game). This "blob-otov cocktail" bursts into flame when it's thrown, which Mal demonstrates for us. In a nice departure, Mal is a Buddy Holly bespectacled 50s greaser, instead of the standard Q (from Bond movies) clone.

The mission sent us to a 50s neighborhood, and we tracked a blob trail into a house. Here, the gameplay devolved into your standard shooter. Carter and his agents blasted away at a series of creepy black blobs with shotguns and blobotovs. Another weapon was showcased, the lightning gun, but it didn't seem terribly effective against the aliens. The woman saved, the agents needed to make their way back to the car to get back to base. Unfortunately, a huge alien disturbance showed up in the sky and formed a circle of rock which sent rays at us that vaporized everything in the beam. Clearly, Carter is going to need some bigger guns.

The new XCOM from 2K Marin is big on 50s flavor, but the shooter gameplay feels like much of what you've played before. Here's hoping that when the game comes out (slated for 2011), there's more of the strategy that you would expect from the successor to the X-COM that many gamers loved.

Keep track of all our E3 2010 coverage here.

Permalink

Well, it sounds interesting as a game, but it aint no XCOM

Should have just gone with a new IP, because you could even say it is 'XCOM' in name only, well apart from setting and such.

If I write a comment here, it will devolve into screaming. And then stabbing.

I still have absolutely nothing good to say about this game.
*zips mouth*

I'll try to keep this nice and, well nice.

If your going to make an XCOM game and call it strategic, you better make it a damn XCOM game and make it strategic.

Choosing what alien weapon to use and when isn't going to cut it.

I just feel very disappointed. I love Xcom ufo defence and if they had made it an fps set in that "timeframe" a quasi futuristic 1999, I think I would have been sold (well ok maybe not sold, just not massivly as disappointed and nerd raging as I am now)

Alas, 'tis not to be it would seem.

There's one way to save this totally. All it takes is a name change and a few small graphical alterations.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It Came From The Desert 3

Now that would sell like hotcakes.

L...let's just wait and se...s....see? Oh god, it's no use, this is just terrible news. D:

Consider my childhood memories raped after reading this review.

I'll stop right there before I go off into a deeper rant. <.<

I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?

dogstile:
I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?

You did watch the trailer didn't you? It really isn't, remove the name and there is quite literally no relation other than: Aliens invading.

Fuck this game. Fuck 2K for using the XCOM name. They should sell the rights to someone who has some fucking respect for the franchise.

dogstile:
I still don't know how people insist its not an X-com game when its set in the same universe. I get its not the same genre but it is still XCOM themed right?

If nothing else, X-Com was founded in 1999. If Elerium et. al was discovered 50 years hence, then it would require a world rewrite, not to mention concepts like Eurasia. It Came from the Desert, Zombies Ate My Neighbours, and even Duke Nukem would work with this, but not X-Com.

Damn. This might really be a solid game on its own, and if so, I'll play it.

But abusing the XCOM-name like this is a really cheap move. Not cool.

Ill on fence about it...sounds like it will be a good shooter but...I'm syil going to wait on more

Greg Tito:
(did they have 911 in the 50s?)

Short answer: no.

Ah dammit. Another first person.

Not had enough of those?

As someone who massively enjoyed the original games, it depresses me that someone who probably loves the game as much as I do manages to screw it up this badly.

Not hoping for much.

An action game inspired by a strategy game rather than a strategy/action hybrid game? Sounds like a homoeopathic remedy in game form.

There is a good reason why this game is first person, and it actually makes sense:

RTS doesn't work well on consoles.

Just cause Bethesda pulled off Fallout from an RTS (technically) to a console friendly FPS, doesn't mean every game is meant to be one. I can't wait for the Civ FPS.

obisean:
RTS doesn't work well on consoles.

X-COM was a TBS. They work perfectly on consoles. The predecessor to X-COM was designed to be controlled with a one button Atari type joystick.

The main reason this is going to be an FPS is simply because there isn't a big enough market for a AAA version of the original X-COM. It's far too risky to attempt for a major studio so they're trying to make XCOM accessible to many more people. If you want another X-COM type game, it might be worth checking out Xenonauts; but expecting 2K to do it just isn't realistic.

The game looks like a might be a shooter with a lot more depth than usual so I'm tentatively looking forward to it, but I'm hoping that the squad mechanics are somewhat more interesting than they presently seem.

And the older fanboys bias countinues unabated.

Mind you, I can think of some ways to make a new X-Com how you like it, but it would be a PSN XBLA title, not a triple A.

I'll admit the squad mechanics have be concerned. Squadmates seem pretty damn stupid to be so valuable. Now I know you lose squadmates like nobodies business in the early stages of X-COM, so maybe the power armored super agents come later, but damn, I hate escourt missions and babysitting.

If you played Battlefield: Vietnam's story mission (or was it some other vietnam game?) it had real time combat that you could freeze at any time, and jump between controlled teammates. You could also level up your soldiers with skills in various stats, though they came with preconfigured specializations (I remember the main character, 'Cherry', was the medic, and the black guy was the machinegunner, etc etc).

To the people who told me to stop assuming 2K games wasn't going to treat the X-COM name and premise with respect, rather than shitting out another utterly generic first person shooter meant to wring the last few pennies out of an old popular title.

I TOLD YOU SO YOU NAIVE FOOLS

Why does this game have the name X-COM on it again?
Anyone who has actually played the games knows that they aren't the intended audience.
You want proof that remakes are nothing more than market exploitation? Here it is people.

To the new market, this is just another shooter, outshined by its competition in every way.
But to me, this is my childhood sold for profit by talentless hacks.

no offense but I have never herd of X-COM until this new game came out. I dont see the big deal. going first person worked for fallout

More Fun To Compute:

obisean:
RTS doesn't work well on consoles.

X-COM was a TBS. They work perfectly on consoles. The predecessor to X-COM was designed to be controlled with a one button Atari type joystick.

Why make an intuitive interface for console when everyone will just throw up their hands in frustration after 10 minutes screaming that it has too much of a learning curve? Back in the day when games were simpler the one button approach was not too hard to pull off (click to shoot, and that was about your only option). Why make things complicated when you can make it a first person shooter, sell more than you ever would have as a TBS (I played it and know it was one, but RTS was just easier to relate to for most people).

Consoles have poisoned everything PC gamers hold dear about non-FPS games. If it wasn't for people like Sid Meier (Sim City would have a mention here, but they are focusing on The Sims as of late, which is for the most part console friendly, if only consoles had the processing power necessary and didn't require a small dumb down on some features and graphics) making "complicated" games that really only work on PC, most everything would be an FPS or TPS for the sake of appealing to a wider audience. Which is where X-COM comes in to play.

zombie711:
no offense but I have never herd of X-COM until this new game came out. I dont see the big deal. going first person worked for fallout

Fallout 3 is first person in the same way Oblivion is first person: It's third person with the camera zoomed all the way in. At least, that's how it always felt to me, I've noticed some FPS'es when they do this, and it feels quite awkward. It's mostly the way they seem to 'anchor' the camera to the player model, always felt clunky to me. Compare say, Fallout 3 to Team Fortress 2, ever feel that the movement in TF2 is just more fluid, even though like Fallout 3 you can zoom out (like when using the Bonk!) and see the player model, but still retain a proper feeling of movement?

With Fallout it just seems off. This could be the fault of the animations however, and I did eventually get used to it.

So, unknown, hostile alien force attacks earth.
A team is assembled and they go into battle, knowing just about nothing about the enemy.
They fight, die and scalvage what they can from the enemy.
They research their enemy and their tech as they go.
They get money for doing their job well, less so if they screw up.

I've only played the first three X-COM games and got into any depth with only the first one, but this does seem to be the basic formula of the series.
And as far as I can see, the new installment does follow along those lines.

Kandon Arc:
snip

TsunamiWombat:
snip

Look, everybody here knows a TBS game wouldn't sell particularly well. Nobody's asking why 2K isn't making a sequels that the fans would actually like. We just want to know why they're making an XCom game at all.

I would personally love to get a new PSN/XBLA sort of game or something else like that. It's just... They must have payed good money for the right to slap the XCom name on their random 50s era alien shooter. Why would they do that? Not one single person on the face of the Earth will buy this because of the XCom name, (I exaggerate of course, but XCom is pretty obscure and this is not popular with its fans. Fans of XCom will not contribute anything meaningful to sales of this game.) and it has absolutely nothing to do with XCom. (That is not an exaggeration.) Why? Just... Why?

obisean:
Why make an intuitive interface for console when everyone will just throw up their hands in frustration after 10 minutes screaming that it has too much of a learning curve? Back in the day when games were simpler the one button approach was not too hard to pull off (click to shoot, and that was about your only option). Why make things complicated when you can make it a first person shooter, sell more than you ever would have as a TBS (I played it and know it was one, but RTS was just easier to relate to for most people).

Consoles have poisoned everything PC gamers hold dear about non-FPS games. If it wasn't for people like Sid Meier (Sim City would have a mention here, but they are focusing on The Sims as of late, which is for the most part console friendly, if only consoles had the processing power necessary and didn't require a small dumb down on some features and graphics) making "complicated" games that really only work on PC, most everything would be an FPS or TPS for the sake of appealing to a wider audience. Which is where X-COM comes in to play.

Console gamers do have the patience to buy turn based, menu driven games.

Laser Squad, the game I was talking about, had a menu driven interface to control the characters. In fact with the joystick and menus you sometimes had more control than in X-COM. For example the automatic fire option let you select a start and end position to strafe and select how many shots you could fire. Decisions about how complicated turn based games are often more due to design philosophy and goals of the developer than limits of the platform or controller.

Bleah. The might as well call it Roswell.
What does this have to do with Xcom?????

zombie711:
no offense but I have never herd of X-COM until this new game came out. I dont see the big deal. going first person worked for fallout

It's a matter of perspective, and in this case, it's the original players seeing 2K Games gutting out the good things in the original to replace with marketable stereotypes.

Fallout 3 did this to an extend, but at least Bethesda kept the original premise of being a wasteland wanderer in a very strange world. While I give Bethesda credit here, I still hated Fallout 3 for being little more than a collection of idiot-proof (read: console-centric) missions with no real sense of danger.

Don't get me wrong; it is totally possible to make X-COM work as a shooter as long as you leave some of the strategy elements in place. But since this game is being marketed at the Xbox 360 crowd, I somehow doubt those elements will remain.

Actually, I take that last bit back...
The game won't require any thought by default since 2K Games is working on it.
Since they can't find enough creativity to make any more than the usual MMO scenarios (as they proved with flying colors in Borderlands). it's guaranteed that this game will have all the depth of a thimble and the strategy will boil down to "Shoot the aliens, get the goodies, repeat in a new area".

You can bet money that I just described the entire game. Now you just have to add in some smug jackass monologue and shiny graphics and you have a likely candidate for the final product.

So why am I and other fans unhappy? Because there was no need to do this to X-COM.
They are literally dangling their bullshit product in front of our eyes saying "Lookie what we got? You want to see us rape it? We will be making millions while we do it."

If you have not played the original games, or simply don't have the patience to try, then this game might be for you. Though I think you might find other, better shooters elsewhere by the time this game hits the shelves.

Bah, 2K Marin sucks. It's a shame such a legendary series has fallen into their hands.

More Fun To Compute:

Console gamers do have the patience to buy turn based, menu driven games.

Really? Even JRPG's, the modern day adopters of turn based combat, are starting to get away from true turn based combat in favor of a closer to real time combat system.

You also keep sticking to the fact that they at one time did exist when gaming was a recreational activity and less of a sport. That alone proves the point that modern day console gamers don't like the slower more strategic games. I know that most console gamers own PC's and do play games on them, and that they do play the slower games on them, but it's the PC they are playing them on, not the console. Games like that won't sell on consoles much anymore, unless you make it some arcade type title at $10-$20 like Catan or something.

Atmos Duality:

zombie711:
no offense but I have never herd of X-COM until this new game came out. I dont see the big deal. going first person worked for fallout

It's a matter of perspective, and in this case, it's the original players seeing 2K Games gutting out the good things in the original to replace with marketable stereotypes.

Fallout 3 did this to an extend, but at least Bethesda kept the original premise of being a wasteland wanderer in a very strange world. While I give Bethesda credit here, I still hated Fallout 3 for being little more than a collection of idiot-proof (read: console-centric) missions with no real sense of danger.

Don't get me wrong; it is totally possible to make X-COM work as a shooter as long as you leave some of the strategy elements in place. But since this game is being marketed at the Xbox 360 crowd, I somehow doubt those elements will remain.

Actually, I take that last bit back...
The game won't require any thought by default since 2K Games is working on it.
Since they can't find enough creativity to make any more than the usual MMO scenarios (as they proved with flying colors in Borderlands). it's guaranteed that this game will have all the depth of a thimble and the strategy will boil down to "Shoot the aliens, get the goodies, repeat in a new area".

You can bet money that I just described the entire game. Now you just have to add in some smug jackass monologue and shiny graphics and you have a likely candidate for the final product.

So why am I and other fans unhappy? Because there was no need to do this to X-COM.
They are literally dangling their bullshit product in front of our eyes saying "Lookie what we got? You want to see us rape it? We will be making millions while we do it."

If you have not played the original games, or simply don't have the patience to try, then this game might be for you. Though I think you might find other, better shooters elsewhere by the time this game hits the shelves.

I like you. This game isn't completely un-doable as an FPS, it's just likely that they didn't take the original and translate it to the sameish game but from a first person view. This game sadly did not do that, and it would have been great if it had. This may as well be a prequel to Area-51, they have about as much in common.

obisean:
Really? Even JRPG's, the modern day adopters of turn based combat, are starting to get away from true turn based combat in favor of a closer to real time combat system.

You also keep sticking to the fact that they at one time did exist when gaming was a recreational activity and less of a sport. That alone proves the point that modern day console gamers don't like the slower more strategic games. I know that most console gamers own PC's and do play games on them, and that they do play the slower games on them, but it's the PC they are playing them on, not the console. Games like that won't sell on consoles much anymore, unless you make it some arcade type title at $10-$20 like Catan or something.

If you think that console gamers don't care about their RPG combat systems being streamlined and automated then you are wrong. They care and make more a fuss about it than PC gamers ever did.

I don't know what you are talking about with this recreation vs sport thing but it is true that many people play games on console and PC. I can't tell you how fast or slow the games I play are depending on the platform but I think that PC has some of the fastest games out there. Especially some of the strategy games which to almost require a frantic pace of mouse clicking and hot key pressing. Fans of these games would see the slowing down of gameplay as the reason why games don't work on consoles without becoming simplified.

*something about raping 2K Marin employees with a dildo covered in glass shards*

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here