by Justin Snyder
previewed on X360
The player and his AI teammates head off in the direction of the house that the call came from. Shortly after leaving their car behind, the men hear someone screaming for help from a nearby house. It is here that the devs tell us about the extras and side paths that have been put into many of the missions. In this case, the player could decide to head straight to their destination or they could decide to investigate what they've heard. They approach the house the screams came from, but find nothing but patches of black goo.
Walking around the house and into the backyard they discover a dead man, covered with black goo, lying on the ground. The man had been killed by Blob aliens and the goo is the same goo that fuels the Blobatov grenades mentioned earlier. This discovery introduces another gameplay mechanic: Similar to research enemies in Bioshock, snapping a picture of the victim serves to further the research done by Mal back at headquarters.
With no culprit in sight, the team moves on to the target house. Upon entering we hear the sounds of a woman screaming from somewhere else in the house. As they approach the stairs, Blobs attack out of nowhere. The small, black Blobs are a pretty agile foe, jumping quickly from place to place and making it difficult to land a shot. The Lightning Gun is particularly effective here as it fires a continuous beam as opposed to the single shots from the more conventional weapons available to you. Then the Blobatov grenade proves its worth, unleashing a bunch of goo around the target area and bursting into flames. Any Blobs caught are instantly dissipated. Yet to kill a Blobs, one has to hit them to separate the goo from its core. Once the core is isolated, dealing enough damage to it will finish off the creature.
Upstairs, the team finds the 911 caller still alive. They tell her that she is safe to leave the house but surprisingly this did not end the mission. Something caused everything to shake and they rush outside to see what appears to be a massive wormhole hovering in the sky. Out of it, a giant shape shifting monolith appears and changes into a ring shape that starts building up energy in its center. It fires a beam at the player and turns the ground into charred, formless matter. We watched as the player ran from this monolith, firing the Lightning Gun at it every chance he could seemingly without doing any damage at all.
XCOM certainly looks interesting and appealing, from an outsider's point of view. Yet this carries the XCOMname and as such, comes with a string of wishes and expectations attached. There isn’t anything here that says ‘Turn-Based Strategy’ game. 2K Marin likes to say that they are including some elements like strategy and the fear of the unknown from the originals. The fear part is easily reproduced in a First-Person experience, the former is a little more tricky.
The developers are certainly off to a good start with the mission structure and the idea of using XCOM's headquarters as a mission and research hub. To be honest, though, they have a long way to go before they can pull off a true hybrid of the XCOMof old and the XCOMthey have begun to create. Right now, 2K Marin is doing what they do best, which is to create an immersive FPS that tells an intelligent story. Still, one has to wonder if this game could have done as well or perhaps better as a new IP rather than force a reboot that might not settle well with fans of the previous titles.