REVIEW: XCOM 2

Feb
07

REVIEW: XCOM 2

XCOM 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Enemy Unknown. Does it surpass its predecessor with flying spaceships or miss with near perfect aim? Let’s find out:

Status: Released

Developer: Firaxis Games

Publisher: 2K

Genre: Turn-based tactics

Release date: 5th of February, 2016

Gameplay:

XCOM 2 starts with a story telling you that you lost the war you waged against the aliens and now it’s time to avenge humanity. I personally did not find the story of Enemy Unknown too thrilling, its pacing was abrupt and there were some logic gaps. XCOM 2 has a much better story with brilliant pacing and a very satisfying conclusion. Nearly each battle of XCOM 2 starts off with you planning an ambush for the aliens. The previous hunters are now the hunted. There is a specific turn limit in which you must finish your battles. While I don’t like these things in any game, XCOM 2 handles it very well. This turn limit makes you really think out your strategies in advance and instead of just hiding behind some containers, you actually try to fight your enemies, which is a very good thing. The thrill which you achieve when an alien group is trapped completely by your squad and seeing that your plan worked is a tremendous achievement.

XCOM 2 is still more of the XCOM you already know, you lead a party which is insanely customizable. You grow a bond with the squad mates you play with and it breaks your heart when one of these squad members dies on the battlefield. This guerrilla warfare can easily go wrong in this game and sometimes you have to withdraw your soldiers from the battlefield to save their lives and in turn lose the battle. XCOM 2 is an improvement upon Enemy Unknown in every regard. There are a number of weapons at your disposal and the game rewards the player’s thinking. The game plays faster and there is a key tactical element called Overwatch introduced in the game which makes things easier to examine and play but is quite expensive at times. There are your usual things like upgrading and managing you base, your soldier’s equipment and such. As I said, there is a huge amount of customization available here.  Each map is a little random every time you play it which makes it much more replayable than the previous one. The randomness also means you can’t remember each tactical place and that makes it that much more thrilling.

XCOM 2 doesn’t stray too much from the familiar formula and you can still miss shots at 95% chance, though it never feels familiar as those cases are really rare. The single player campaign is lengthy and will last you a minimum of 20-25 hours on hard difficulty. Aside from this, there is a multiplayer mode which lets you play as the aliens. While playing as the aliens is exciting, the multiplayer feature is pretty bare bones. I would recommend playing the multiplayer version against friends to get the most fun out of it. I do wish that the game added a co op feature or something like that now that everything has been finely balanced. The UI is simple and easy to browse through. The tutorial also does a good job in easing a new player in the game. When it initially launched, XCOM 2 was marred by a multitude of bugs. Now, nearly 10 months later, the game is pretty much fixed. Sure, you may find a couple of glitches here and there but nothing game breaking. On the plus side, the modding community for the game is thriving and it has already produced some really nice ones.

Visuals

Visually, XCOM 2 looks excellent. While it does not sport photo realistic graphics, it does have gorgeous looking maps and excellent character models. The cutscenes are done brilliantly and the texture is simply amazing. The alien models especially look far superior to the ones in the original and now look far more diverse. The maps have a good amount of detail and they look gorgeous, especially when the sun is shining. The characters look superb and it’s a blast customizing them and seeing them on the battlefield. Overall, XCOM features striking visuals which are a pleasure to view.

Sound

The sound design of XCOM 2 is done very well. The voice acting is done very well and the usual random sounds are heightened to a new level which adds an extra layer of atmosphere to the game. When you are waiting for a new turn, the slow build up makes it all the more tense. The main soundtrack itself is very good to listen to and helps in building the environment.

Overall

XCOM 2 is an improvement over Enemy Unknown in every single way. It features excellent combat and a fast paced story. The randomized maps make it more replayable and there are a ton of customization options available to the player. The modding community for this game also looks promising and gives it a bright future. It looks good, plays good and has taken tons of hours of my life. I can’t ask more from a game. It is, by far, one of the best strategy games I have ever played.

(click on the image to see the rating explanation)

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