XCOM: Enemy Unknown (aka XCOM: EU or simply EU), released 9th Oct 2012 in the USA and 12th Oct2012 in Europe, is a video game (for the PC, XBox360, PS3, OSX and iOS platforms) wherein the player is in charge of an elite paramilitary organization called XCOM. XCOM: EU is a restart of the 'X-Com' series of games that began in 1994 with UFO: Enemy Unknown (aka X-Com: UFO Defense). Extraterrestrials are attacking Earth and it is your job to defend the planet. "Good luck Commander."
Like its predecessors, EU is a unique game blending a strategy "Geoscape" with a tactical combat "Battlescape". In terms of overall strategy, you are tasked with building a base, researching technology, translating that into gear, equipping soldiers & aircraft, managing global politics to secure funding, choosing & planning missions, managing soldiers' abilities, and more. In terms of tactical combat, you choose every move and action of each of your soldiers.
Having total control over every aspect of the XCOM agency is meaningful; every success bolsters a sense of accomplishment, while every veteran's 'perma-death' and subsequent replacement by a minimally-skilled rookie feels like a gut punch from a Muton Berserker. Choose wisely, and you just might lay waste to the alien baddies. Choose poorly, and may not be able to protect the Funding Council nations or even survive a combat mission.
Lead Designer Jake Solomon is known for describing the 'one thing that is XCOM' as being consequences: no shot can be taken for granted and every choice you make in the game could have a impact. And when something goes very, very wrong at the worst possible moment, 'That's XCOM, baby!'
- Easy - new to XCOM or tactical games
- Normal - for familiar players
- Classic - very challenging; for experience players (No Officer Training School at start)
- Impossible - "For players who find joy in suffering." (Tutorial disabled)
- Ironman Mode: While not a dedicated difficulty 'level', choosing Ironman Mode upon starting a campaign increases difficulty by allowing only one save slot that is determined by auto-save. Clicked on the wrong square and got your Colonel killed out of cover? Countries permanently left the Funding Council because you botched that mission? 'That's XCOM.'
- Tutorial: Provides a tutorial via practice combat(s) and some basic base management. Essentially the same as the Demo. Without the tutorial, you start on a 4-Rookie combat mission rather than starting with a lone surviving Squaddie.
- The Second Wave: Advanced Game Play options. The first four are available right after installing it for the first time:
- Damage Roulette - Weapons have a much wider range of damage.
- New Economy - The funding offered by individual council members is randomized.
- Not Created Equally - Rookies will have random starting stats.
- Hidden Potential - As a soldier is promoted, their stats will increase randomly.
- The following ones are activated once the game is won on Normal, Classic or Impossible:
- Red Fog - Any wounds taken in combat will degrade a soldier's stats for that mission.
- Absolutely Critical - A flanking shot will guarantee a critical hit.
- The Greater Good - The secret of psionics can only be learned by interrogating a psionic alien.
- Marathon - The game takes considerably longer to complete.
- Results Driven - A country will offer less funding as its panic increases.
- High Stakes - The rewards granted for stopping alien abductions are randomized.
- Diminishing Returns - The cost of satellites increases with every one that is built.
- More Than Human - The psionic gift is extremely rare.
- The last four options are only available after winning on Impossible:
- Total Loss - Lose all gear from soldiers who die in combat.
- War Wariness - Overall funding levels drop inexorably with every month that passes.
- E-115 - Elerium stores will degrade over time.
- Alternate Sources - The power requirements of all facilities are increased.
Note: The Impossible difficulty is arguably unfair, in that bad luck in Geoscape alone can make you lose your game, even with the best play. Consider yourself warned if you plan on tackling Impossible difficulty with Ironman Mode.
There are a couple audio options to customize how the game is experienced.
|Master volume||Changes the overall volume of the game. (This seems to have the most relevance to cut-scene volume.)|
|Voice volume||Adjusts volume of soldiers' battlefield comments, incoming communication from Central, Dr. Shen, & Dr. Vahlen, as well as enemy vocals.|
|Sound effect volume||Adjusts volume of sound effects for gun-fire, explosions, doors & windows, footsteps, etc.|
|Music volume||Adjusts music volume, though some music is inherently soft (exploring) while some is loud (mid-battle).|
|Enable Soldier Speech||Toggles whether soldiers speak in combat (e.g., "I'm on it", panic cries, psionic smack talk).|
There are a number of UI & gameplay options to customize how the game is experienced.
|Show action cam||Toggles whether you see the occasional action sequences when you move your soldiers (over-the-shoulder running, kicking down doors, jumping through windows).|
|Enable 3rd-person cam||Toggles whether you see over-the-shoulder when aiming and firing.|
|Enable autosave||Allows the game to autosave for you, generally right before a combat mission or after an important event or objective. Ironman mode forces this.|
|Show enemy health||Toggles display of enemy health bars on and off.|
There are a number of interface options to customize how the game is experienced.
|Input device||Choose input (e.g., mouse, XBOX 360 controller)|
|Edit Keyboard Bindings||Edit which buttons correspond to combat actions & menus.|
|Show subtitles||Shows text subtitles during cut-scenes and mission briefings.|
|Edge scroll speed||Adjusts how quickly the screen scrolls across the map when moving the mouse to the edge.|
There are a number of video options to customize how the game is experienced.
|Mode||Choose between fullscreen, window, or borderless window.|
|Lock mouse to window||Toggles whether the mouse is bound to the window, requiring alt+tab to free the mouse.|
|Gamma||Adjusts gamma with the aid of an icon guide. Note that according to the icon, the game will be quite dark and create some viewing grumbles, especially in well-lit areas or on glossy screens.|
|Enable v-sync||Fixes screen tearing when you move the camera but caps your framerate to 30 or 60.|
|Enable framerate smoothing||Caps your framerate to 60.|
There are a number of graphics options to customize how the game is experienced.
|Shadows||Low/Medium/High - Determines the detail level of shadows.|
|Texture Filtering||Low/Medium/High - Determines the level of texture filtering. Makes textures sharper at longer distances.|
|Fog of War||Low/Medium/High - Determines the detail of the fog bordering your soldiers' sight limit.|
|Anti-Aliasing||Low/Medium/High - Determines the quality the anti-aliasing effect. Smooths sharp edges on the models (using FXAA it seems).|
|Texture Detail||Low/High - Determines the general detail of in-game textures.|
|Effects||Low/High - Detail level of weapon fire, explosions, psionics, etc.|
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows Vista
- Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT / ATI Radeon HD 2600XT or greater
- DirectX®: 9.0
- Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
- Sound: DirectX Compatible
- OS: Windows 7
- Processor: 2 GHz Dual Core (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or Athlon X2 2.7 GHz)
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9000 series / ATI Radeon HD 3000 series or greater
- DirectX®: 9.0
- Hard Drive: 20 GB HD space
- Sound: DirectX Compatible