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XCOM 2: Quality unknown

in A & E/Reviews by

2016-02-19_00003

XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a surprising release in 2012. A reboot to cult-classic strategy games UFO: Enemy Unknown and the X-COM series from the ’90s, it was a strategy game that tasked you with being in command of a secret global military force to defend the Earth from a growing alien threat.

In XCOM: EU, you had to put forth your skills in two fields; Turn Based Tactics for the missions off base, and when you’re back at base you have to strategically manage your resources, including soldiers, weapons and equipment, and of course, money.

Just remember when you’re fighting a better equipped alien force, you’ve got to do whatever you can to defend the Earth, as long as it’s within the budget.

The game boasted a very fun campaign, with some admittedly odd design choices. A steady increase in difficulty was met with an almost equal increase in XCOM’s capabilities.

When you beat the campaign, a psychic super-soldier of your force saves the world by sacrificing themselves. So naturally, for XCOM 2, this ending for its predecessor is an alternate universe and the reality you come to learn is that you lost the war 20 years ago.

Welcome to the future, where an alien force is now in control of the planet, pretentiously named the Advent. You’ve got to fight to regain the planet back before the Advents complete the Avatar Project. If you don’t, and it’s very possible you may not, humanity will cease to be as we know it.

There are two possible meanings behind not completing the Avatar Project. The first meaning is you may very well lose your first or second play through while you get your bearings. For a game where it is you versus the game, this is not an unwelcome occurrence, as you can learn from it. The second meaning is not something you learn from and is actually a deterrent from playing. Funny enough, it is also the game itself.

The condition XCOM 2 is released in can be described as nothing short of deplorable, to put it very mildly. There are lots of bugs in this game, and not the fun, shootable alien kind. What we have instead are performance errors, gameplay bugs, and my personal favorite, fatal errors. I feel like I’m playing some technological circus, or more aptly, a freak show; the tech they have on display is absolutely horrid.

Performance on this game is nothing short of a colossal failure at its worst. Game hitches, freezing and terrible frame rates in places you would not expect them to be. One mechanic the game has is ‘Overwatch’ where your soldier will take a reaction shot at an enemy that moves in their field of view. The problem that this mechanic has is that the game will not continue until nearly half a minute passes and everything is moving in slow motion. This happens often enough that irritation is not uncommon while fighting aliens.

To be perfectly honest, the whole package that was released is rage inducing, and that is a crying shame. I enjoyed the 2012 XCOM and its expansion Enemy Within, and I enjoy playing this game too, but the quality and performance of this release is unacceptable. To have this game run decently, you need a high tier system, and even then the settings you will be running don’t do that system justice. This game is horribly un-optimized, and even when it hits a good period of performance, the game bugs out in other ways.

On one enemy turn, an Advent Stun Lancer charged towards my soldier with a melee attack in mind. He attacks, but before it can register, my soldiers close range melee attack ability kicks in and attacks him instead. At this point, what should have happened is that my soldier should have then registered any damage received, after he defended himself. Instead, the game bugged out, refunding the enemy’s actions for that turn and sent him to flank my soldier and then shoot him for a near fatal critical hit. I was beaten into the dirt by playing a computer opponent, and I fought my desk instead in rage. My desk won by nearly fracturing my hand.

The developers have said they are working on fixing these problems, but the number of them leaves me doubting that it will be soon enough for me to care. Unless you have a high tier system, pass on this game until then.

★★☆☆☆ “Disappointing. An under par experience that leaves one melancholy.”

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