XCOM: Enemy Within Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | PC
XCOM: Enemy Within Box Art
System: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Dev: Firaxis Games
Pub: 2K Games
Release: November 12, 2013
Players: 1 (2 PvP multiplayer)
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence

Multiplayer has also received a much-needed upgrade from what was widely criticized as one of the weaker elements of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It's still the same task of choosing a team of up to six using a point system to keep matches even. Of course, custom, unranked sessions can have options like turn time limit and point allocation adjusted. A 1-on-1 skirmish is yet again the only mode, but at least this time, there are thirteen maps in total to choose from, instead of the paltry five from before. Also, you now have the ability to custom build troop loadouts offline, allowing you to load your team and get right into the action. It's nothing too complex, but it’s always a new challenge playing against another human rather than an AI, with a leaderboard that tracks wins, losses, and disconnects.

XCOM: Enemy Within Screenshot

The quality of the visuals is something that hasn't changed much from the original remake. There are some smoother environmental textures and better application of lighting and shaders, but the character models still look fairly rough and lack detail. However, there are a whole bunch of new color combinations, armor deco, hairstyles, and helmets to give your troops a more personalized look. Firaxis also hasn't corrected the many instances of characters being lost in walls and shooting directly through obstacles.

The musical score keeps in line with the intensity of the global threat, with heightened moments as enemies are spotted and engaged. In between missions, the tracks are subdued back at HQ, but still provide a sense of the burden you bear as the commander of XCOM. Firaxis has also taken strides to allow many of your recruits to speak the native language of their homeland. Most European vocals, from German, French, Spanish, and even Polish can be found. It's a nice touch, but I feel like at least every country on the XCOM Council should have been given a voice. Chinese and Japanese are noticeably absent, and every English accent is American, so the British and Australian contingent feels vocally out of place.

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Upon first glance, you may think that the intent of XCOM: Enemy Within being more of an upgrade than an expansion makes it unworthy of a purchase. This is absolutely not the case. Nearly every feature of the game has something new, and when combined together with the original game, makes an already addictive experience that much more compelling. If you've already dumped countless hours into dozens of campaigns with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, this game is fresh enough to add countless more. If you've been on the fence about the XCOM reboot, there's no better time to find your new obsession.

By
Sean Engemann
Contributing Writer
Date: November 11, 2013

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
The new maps give some much-needed variety to the visuals. The effects and lighting are plausible, but the character models and physics are still a step behind where they should be.
4.8
Control
The turn-based action and grid battlefield is tailor made for the PC. Managing the menus back at HQ is also quick and simple.
4.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
All the right tones fit the dire ambience of an alien invasion. It would have been nice if Firaxis went all the way with the added language vocals.
5.0
Play Value
The original game had enough replayability to warrant a 5.0, and now there's even more to do. Be prepared to lose many hours saving the world, over and over.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • New Soldier Abilities: Research a new alien technology to advance the capabilities of your operatives: Gene Mods--Construct the Genetics Lab to physically enhance your operatives' abilities, including augmentations to the chest, brain, eyes, skin, and legs. MECs--Build the Cybernetics Lab to enable the construction of the new Mechanized Exoskeletal Cybersuit, or MEC. The new MEC Trooper class has specialized abilities, and each suit can be upgraded with new weapons, including the flamethrower and grenade launcher.
  • New Weapons and Equipment: Give your operatives an extra tactical edge with new projects from your engineering team and the Foundry.
  • New Enemy Threats: Adopt new tactics to counter the threats from two new alien classes, including the Mechtoid.
  • New Strategic Resource: A valuable new alien resource, known as MELD, has been released onto the landscape, providing access to new research and upgrades.
  • New Tactical Challenges and Maps: New tactical challenges are introduced across an additional 47 maps.
  • New Multiplayer Maps, Units, and Abilities: Create your custom squad from a wider array of options, and dominate your opponent in intense, one-on-one, turn-based matches.

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