E3 Preview: XCOM (Multi)
There is probably no greater game that was causing controversy at the show more than XCOM. It was not controversy due to violence or some other social morale issue, but more because of its predecessors success. Many old school PC gamers remember X-COM as a tense, tactical sci-fi romp, filled with base building, research trees, manufacturing, squad hiring and of course, turn-based tactical strategy gameplay. You slowly worked your way through a map, killing aliens, and praying to any god who might listen, to keep your people alive till the end of the mission. The new XCOM, however, from initial press releases, did away with all of that, instead, turning it into a mainstream FPS title, and killing all of what the name stood for in the process.
2K Games was nice enough to invite Aeropause to take a look at the title behind closed doors and to see what we though of the first actual gameplay footage from XCOM. I was skeptical going into the preview, so 2K Marin would have to blow the socks off of me to get me on their side. Did the presentation blow said socks off? Continue on after the jump for the results.
Martin Slater of 2K Marin took our group into the XCOM booth and right away, I was getting an idea of the vibe they were going for as the demo room was decked out with a 1950′s kitchen decor, complete with old school dining room seats, big ass kitchen appliances and of course, lots of porcelin tile. Also, I must make note that Martin was probably the most entertaining presenter I ran across at E3 this year. He boomed out his presentation in what I thought was an Australian accent, and was highly entertaining throughout the presentation.
We then got the rundown on how the development team were great fans of the original X-COM games and how much they were going to try and keep the flavor of the original titles, while giving the players of today, a new experience that they may have never had in a game before. Martin said that the 1950′s era was chosen for the game because it was a pivotal time in American history. We were just coming out of a devistating war, the American economy was on the rise, people were cordial and surprisingly enough, very trusting of what their government would tell them. This made XCOM an easy sell for the period, as you can have aliens, and explain them away to the populace, and because of their trust in the government, they would buy into the explainations. As Martin said, this was the Golden Age of America.
With the introduction into why the setting was chosen, we then were brought into the gameplay section of XCOM. First off, we are a character by the name of Special Agent William Carter, a man in charge of the XCOM division of the FBI. These first sections of the game, Martin said, would feel a bit familiar to the old school player of X-COM. We have a base of operations, which is set in a warehouse, filled with what would have been considered state of the art at the time. It also houses the first alien artifact that William Carter found a few years before. Also, we have a laboratory where we can research new weapons and other alien gadgets that will help our heroes battle the alien menace that is plaguing the country. Again, research was another way to harken back to the original titles in the series. The last bit of nostalgia came in the form of a map room, where missions will be posted for us to complete. This will instantly bring up memories of the Globe view from X-COM.
So at the map screen, we looked at one of the three missions that were available to us. This mission had a 911 call that had a lady screaming about strange creatures trying to kill her and the rest of their neighborhood. But there was a dilemma with choosing this mission. See, each mission will have certain bonuses and pitfalls. In this case, the government would get a boost in popularity due to helping the local citizens, but we would not help out Elerium shortage and we would most likely, not find much in the way of new weapons. But, as Martin said, this was a lady that needed our help and we were going to help her. So, William, and a couple of random soldiers got in the car and went on their way to save the woman in distress.
Upon our arrival, we noted that for a suburban landscape, it was eerily quiet. No people out and about, and no real sounds were to be heard by our characters. It was as if the entire populace just disappeared in an instant. But we worked our way towards the house, because there was a woman that needed our help. Along the way to our destination, we heard a screen and a plea for help. We had to make a decision at this point to divert towards the screem, or just continue on to our main objective. It was decided that we would head for the screams to see if we could help. Instead, we were greeted with a dead body. All is not lost, and this man did not die in vain, as we can scan his body, and use the intel to help with more weapon creation back at the main base.
We continued on our trek towards the house where our initial phone call came from, passing dead bodys in all kinds of disrepair. As we entered the house, our team was attacked by some black oozing puddles. These aliens were very difficult to kill with a trusty shotgun, so we switched weapons to a rifle that shoots lightening projectiles. Also, we had another alien weapon called a blobitoff, which was a mix of one of these blob creatues in a jar with a propellant. Throwing the blobitoffs would light up the area with fire, while the lightening rifle would finish off most of the bad guys. However, we had to be sparring with our shots, as we had limited ammunition for both of these items.
Unfortunately, we had lost one guy while we saved the nice lady, but at least she was very grateful for our help. So as we started to leave, we again felt the house shake. Looking to the back of the house, we saw a huge beam of light hit the patio and disintegrate the patio furniture. We ran outside to get a better view. Our character turned around just in time to see our other teammate get disintegrated by the beam weapon. Looking up, we see that the weapon is coming from a disc shaped flying saucer, which would tilt up vertical and shoot this death ray upon the land at will. Well, we did not have the firepower to beat this, so we had to beat feet and get to the car to get our of here. Along the way, more blob things attacked us, while the beam ‘o death was chasing behind us. Right before we got to the car, we see in destroyed by the beam. Turning around, we face our enemy watching the death ray powering up to kill us and then it fades out to the XCOM logo.
So, what did I gain from this presentation. Well, I can see that they are trying to capture the feel of the original games with the in-between mission stuff, which takes place back at the base. The first person shooter stuff was good, and capture some of the suspense of the original titles, which was a bonus. However, the biggest problem at this time is that the game is struggling to live up to the name of the past, while trying to live in a completely different game style. While I thnk the game is a solid experience, 2K Games would have done themselves better by just creating a new IP, rather than latching on to a franchise so beholden to older gamers. New gamers will probably have none of these issues, and will probably enjoy what they see here. At the end of the day, 2K Marin stoked my fire with this new XCOM, but I am still watching it with a wary eye. Come back for more info as we receive it on XCOM.Tags: 2k games, 2k marin, 50's kitchen, base, black ooze, blob, blobitoff, elerium, good, lightening gun, map, old school, research, reverance, shotgun, squadmates, still wary, suburban landscape, trust in government, x-com, xcom