The last XCOM war failed, humanity despite all their firepower lost and the alien threat took over. They renamed themselves Advent and made false peace with humanity, while experimenting on them in secret. However, humanity is fighting back in small pockets of resistance, with new technology and a can of woop ass in the form of elite soldiers! This is the PC hit strategy game XCOM 2 and it’s finally made its way to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it’s well worth the wait!
If you played the previous XCOM, then you know what’s in store, tactical moment to moment combat, which results in a fight to the bitter end! This time around everything that made the last game good has been made better, there’s more tech to unlock, interesting soldier classes to develop and there’s a doom clock to beat before the aliens achieve their goal. Every decision you make feels important, whether it’s prioritizing upgrading your troops, or assaulting a stronghold with a bunch of rookies as a last-ditch effort to set the doom clock back. You’re a part of the resistance, the underdog of war, which makes for an interesting perspective. You feel up against the odds at first and the sense of progression you get as you unlock more weapons, troops, and tech advancements really helps build an attachment to the characters and the world you’re fighting for.
XCOM 2 isn’t a walk in the park though, there are some moments in this game that will leave you scratching your head or screaming. Furthermore, Advent can really tear you a new one, and certain enemies can cause mass area of effect damage (some can even instantly eliminate a soldier). They come in all shapes and sizes such as your regular grunt troops (who are genetically modified from humans) to huge sentinel machines similar to ED 209.
The enemy variety keeps encounters fresh and interesting, but that’s not all. The aliens can also get various boosts between battles, whether it’s sending a UFO to intercept your ship, increasing enemy line of site or slowing down your supply lines. Even your own troops can hinder you, during early stages they’re about as accurate as the common Storm Trooper. So even if an enemy is directly in front of them, they can still miss and things can go from bad to worse if they become panicked (which results in wasting a turn running away and cowering behind a wall). You just have to take everything in your stride, look after your troops, suit them up, and you should make it to the end, hopefully.
After spending an hour or so renaming my squad and customizing them to look like friends and family, I finally felt like I had created Earth’s last hope. Customisation is very good, there’s a variety of options to create a character to your liking, and you can even write their biographies. There are five classes Sharpshooter, Specialist, Grenadier, Ranger and Psi Operative, all with their own abilities giving you the edge on the battlefield. The rest is up to you, while you can have all the bells and whistles, you still need a brain to put them to use. Tactical prowess is required to overcome a vicious opposition. The aliens have plenty up their sleeve; they’re capable of eliminating your team quickly if you’re not prepared. It’s essential to pick and choose your fights, but sometimes you must beat a mission in a limited amount of times, which makes the game feel like an intense game of chess.
The visuals are a great improvement over the previous outing; displayed on a 4k TV this game looks exceptional. Character models are very well detailed. The aliens are incredibly varied, and the maps look brilliant too. Sound design is also at a great standard. Voice acting is strong here, and while the soundtrack isn’t very memorable, it does enough to build an atmosphere. Overall it’s a vast improvement over the previous game.
What makes XCOM 2 special is the core gameplay. However, when a sniper who has %90 chance to hit his or her target, still misses that very target it can leave you questioning life, but it just works. So I found myself yelling at the characters even swapping them out as punishment, but over time they improved. Then your hit with the news one of your elite units are injured for 20 days, which leaves you trying to fill an unfillable hole (tough luck son!). While the game presents its own story, you’re creating your own story at the same time. So the journey from start to finish will differ from player to player. From Epic defeats to last-minute wins. There’s just so much to XCOM 2 from the tactical options available to the sense of progression, it all goes hand in hand. There are various difficulties on offer for the sadists which will put your metal to the test, but XCOM 2 still offers a decent challenge on all difficulties.
There are a few niggling technical issues that may ruin the gameplay experience, but in the grand scheme of things. I can overlook them because the game itself is just so damn enjoyable. However, there’s notable screen tearing, bugs and awfully long loading screens. The loading screens seem to be the more profound issue (especially when returning from a mission, one lasted for nearly five minutes). So much so that I for a moment thought that the game had crashed on me, but it then reloaded, and I found myself back at base. That aside the core gameplay is fine, I’ve had no audio issues either so for the most part it’s a good port from PC.
XCOM 2 comes with a high recommendation, despite a few technical issues the gameplay, story, vast customisation and visuals all score high. This is a must buy game for fans of strategy. My experience has been a brilliant one and I’m incredibly grateful the devs brought this out on console. XCOM 2 is without a doubt one of the best games to release on console this year!
+ Great Story
+ Constant Progression
+ Varied Encounters
– Awful loading times
– War can be unfair
Replay value: 4.5/5
Firaxis Games and 2K Games XCOM 2 is with no doubt (whatsoever) THE best sci-fi strategy game on console to date. In the matter of fact, XCOM 2 is one of the best strategy game ever made no matter the format.
Title: XCOM 2
Developer: Fireaxis Games, Published by 2K
Format: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Release date: 2016-29-09
Difficulty: Medium to Hard
Spent time: 20 Hours
Average grade internationally: 84.50% Gamerankings.com
PEGI age rating: 16
Price: £32 to £40
Robin Ek – Editor
The Gaming Ground
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