xcom: enemy unknown
First look Can Firaxis make XCOM the game its fans deserve?
Jake Solomon, lead designer for Firaxis, really loves X-COM. This isn’t as notable as how badly Firaxis wants you to know that he really
loves X-COM. It’s not just Solomon either.
Everyone at Firaxis loves the game, I’m
told. If someone joins the team and hasn’t
played it, then playing it is their first task at
the company. I’m reminded repeatedly that
the original game was published by
MicroProse Software, and that Firaxis was
born from the ruins of that company.
You can forgive their anxiety. When 2K
Marin’s new XCOM was announced in
2010, the internet shook with frustration.
16 years after the Gollop brothers’ turn-
based masterpiece was released, the series
was returning—as a
first-person shooter. It
wasn’t what fans wanted.
This is what you
wanted. Later this year,
Combat Unit will
return. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is part
remake of the 1994 original, and part
sequel. It’s developed by the company that
created Civilization, under the stewardship
of Creative Director Sid Meier. It’s turn-based. It has destructible environments. It
has the Geoscape. It has the Skyranger. It
has soldiers with t weakable stats. And I’m
just about to see it for the first time.
The screen goes black, and when it fills
again I’m looking at XCOM ’s new
headquarters. “We call this the ant farm,”
says Jake. It’s a side-on view of a vast
underground base, colorful and bustling.
It looks nothing like anything in the
original game. It looks beautiful. I can see
the Skyranger in the hangar bay near the
top. I can see soldiers wandering the halls,
exercising, playing games in the rec room
and visiting injured friends in the
infirmary. “This is where the player
returns after every mission.”
Your headquarters are more than just
for show, they’re also the game’s menu.
Here, you can set your science team’s
research goals, unlocking new weapons
and equipment to help your fight against