XCOM: Enemy Unknown (aka XCOM: EU or simply EU), released on October 9th, 2012 in the USA and October 12th, 2012 on the rest of the world, 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, tasked with defending Earth from extraterrestrials that are attacking the planet. XCOM: EU is a restart/remake of the 'X-Com' series of games that began in 1994 with UFO: Enemy Unknown (aka X-Com: UFO Defense).
Like its predecessors, EU is a unique game blending a strategic "Geoscape" (a.k.a. Hologlobe) with a tactical combat "Battlescape". In terms of overall strategy, you are tasked with management of 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 XCOM 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 and stop their evil intentions. Choose poorly, and may not be able to protect the Funding Council nations or even survive a combat mission.
Lead Designer Jake Solomon has described the XCOM as being about consequences: no shot can be taken for granted and every choice you make in the game could have a impact. And when something goes wrong, it will usually go during the worst possible moment. Solomon has coined up this feeling with the phrase: That's XCOM, baby!'
On November 12th, 2013 (US) and 15th (rest of the world), a new DLC called XCOM: Enemy Within DLC was released as a purchasable expansion to Enemy Unknown, containing several new features. Other previous released DLCs include the Elite Soldier Pack (included on game pre-orders and available for purchase), the Slingshot DLC (available for purchase) and Second Wave (free download). Firaxis has announced that it plans to release the XCOM: Enemy Unknown Complete Edition in 2014 that will include all previous DLCs.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown has 4 difficulty levels:
- Easy - new to XCOM or tactical games.
- Normal - for familiar players.
- Classic - very challenging; for experience players.
- Impossible - "For players who find joy in suffering." (Tutorial disabled).
- The Second Wave: advanced Game Play options. See the appropriate page for more details.
- 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, baby!
- Tutorial: provides a tutorial via practice combat(s) and some basic base management. Without the tutorial, you start on a 4 Rookie combat mission rather than starting with a lone surviving Squaddie after the first Tutorial mission.
- Meld Tutorial: only available on the Enemy Within DLC. Provides a tutorial mission introducing the Meld substance used by the aliens.
- Operation Progeny: included on the Enemy Within DLC. Adds another campaign of 3 missions that allow recruiting of a new character (Annette as well as early access to more advanced technology.
- Operation Slingshot: DLC that adds a set of 3 linked missions which give access to an experienced soldier Zhang as well as alien advanced technology.
- Reduced Beginner VO: Enemy Within option that reduces the comments made by Drs. Vahlen and Shen during combat missions.
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 User Interface & 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