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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified PC Review - 9.5/10

So school is starting again for me soon (yay...). Since it is, I have decided on two games to finish off my summer right. The first is this game. I'll admit, I haven't played the OG XCOM games (even though I do have them in my Steam library now). I did play Enemy Unknown which I thought was fantastic, so expect me draw parallels often.
For those of you in the dark, The Bureau is an XCOM game that diverts from the strategic elements of placing your squad from a top down view to kill aliens with the greatest of efficiency. It diverts by making it into a third person shooter. Some may be irked by this choice but I was intrigued. As I've said previously, I thought the last game was fantastic, but I had my gripes. This game is no different.

The Good:
Very nice graphics. I was surprised actually. Usually I turn down my settings to the lowest degree so I can get the best performance and I saw little change from medium to lowest. The graphics aren't last year nor next gen, kind of a split between like looking out a window at the graphics we can expect when the PS4 and Xbox One comes out. Also my PC handled this game quite well. Didn't really run into any hiccups or frame rate drops.
I really do like the change to a third person shooter. Enemy Unknown was more of a strategy, 'I hope I win this one', simulator. Which is to say, just because you had a clear line of sight and fired, doesn't mean you did any damage or anything significant. To make matters worse, I was always kicking myself whenever I moved a squad mate into a terrible position and got them killed. With this, fire fights seem more fair. When I fire, its my fault if it didn't connect, not some arbitrary counter. Combat is still difficult, even in the easiest mode, if you don't use your abilities and cover correctly. I felt less punished by a bad action and more chastised in the sense it turned out badly instead of horribly.
The enemy AI impressed me a lot. They moved in and out of cover, making it difficult to hit them without abilities. They used abilities intelligently and the heavier enemies would flank my team with ease while the lower armored ones would try and find openings to take us out. There's also a large variation of enemies so you'll never get too bored. Each enemy knew what they could do and never did anything too amazingly stupid.
The locations are really amazing. First mission dropped me in a burned out military base, second was a corpse infested small town, next was a farm at day with the sun shining, and then next was through a farm in the middle of night during a heavy rain. Needless to say I won't be getting bored anytime soon with the scenery.
Your base of command is really something. Well thought out, massive in its own way.
Simply put: the voice acting is great. On that note, I love the 60's theme the game took. Makes everything feel a bit more classy and nice.

The Bad:
The levels are really linear... which is to be expected because its a shooter and the lack of frame rate drop for me. A lot more linear than EU (Enemy Unknown). I marked this as bad because most people would say that but in my case I could go either way. Like that I have a better frame rate but not liking how small the levels sometimes feel.
The story is a bit predictable. I haven't played through the end, but its clear to see where its going.

The Meh:
This game is very watered down from EU. For instance, you could heavily upgrade and customize your base of operations last game where in this one its just there for you. Same goes for alien weapons. Usually you'd have to research that but here alien weapons are found lying around so if you pick it up once, your whole squad can use it from now on. Also, it doesn't cost anything to recruit new... well, recruits. In the previous game, it was really nail biting if you lost the majority of your troops. Here its just a click away. Why is this all in the 'Meh' instead of 'Bad'? Because a lot of other things were added in its place. For instance you now have a firing range to test out weapons, skills and crew effectiveness. Missions are slightly more lax so running around doing what you please is an option. You also have the option to send a squad member on a mission solo. Not to mention the story has been flushed out a lot more and there is actual interaction between aliens and humans on a non 'shooty-shooty' sense. You feel more attached to your squad now that they talk in battles as well as have unique skills from others in their class due to adding a 'background' style in which you can chose an even further specialization of a new recruit's class whether its to give more damage, receive less or even heal themselves. Weapons now feel like actual weapons rather than playing pieces in a badass chess game. There was a lot of focus put into the human side of this game and I can definitely respect that. While I miss upgrading my base, I now have small mini missions inside the base as well as getting to see the nooks and crannies up close for myself. I do miss those other things but I can't feel mad when they gave me a bunch of other new toys.
This game has a very Mass Effect feel to it. Three team members, one of which is you. Game slows down to a crawl when selecting abilities. I don't know. Its not a bad thing, just something I saw. Maybe the developers took pointers from Mass Effect?

This is a very good game and one I will have fun with for quite some time. Definitely a good game to send me off into the boring abyss that is college.

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