First Look: XCOM was back again at E3 this year. It still wasn't ready to play yet, but the game has been fine tuned even more. Jeffrey Harris checks in with an exclusive first look at 2K Games' XCOM.
This year at E3, we got the chance to see another look at the upcoming 2K Games release, XCOM. XCOM is apparrently a prequel of sorts to the 1990's classic PC game of the same name. In this game you play as Special Agent William Carter. Carter is a new recruit in the government program, XCOM. XCOM is a program assigned to investigate and combat an alien incursion going on in the United States. The video demo began with a creepy home movie of a kid taking a video and discovering his famil have become mutated or taken over by aliens.
The game has changed some and been fine tuned again from the version we saw and previewed last year at E3. Originally the game was set in the 1950's, in many ways the height of American peace and prosperity after WWII. Now the game has been set in the 1960's, and the alien incursion is sort of analogous to the "fear of the unknown" going on in the US at the time with the civil rights movements and the sexual revolution. What is sort of odd about that to me is doesn't that mean the game is sort of reinforcing those themes of being fearful of change? Anyway, you are an agent in the XCOM group and we again got to see the XCOM headquarters which has been modified. Here at the base you can pick out your missions and investigate alien threats and menaces. You can talk with your team members and look at the weapons and gadgets the scients in the R & D department are developing.
You go to a briefing room and are assigned to locate a scientist asset and you and your team are helicoptered there. Unfortunately the town appears to have been taken apart by a mysterious attack and it has become a ghost town of sorts. You go to a military outpost and discover that a soldier is actually an alien disguise. The soldier morphs into a bi-pedal alien. This is a new species different than what we saw last year (apparently those alien creatures will still be in the game as well). They glow blue and they have these very cubed, blocky features. The aliens attack and your team must take cover and fight back. While this is a first person shooter, it is not your typical one as you don't want to run and gun. The first person shooter action emphasizes strategy and team tactics. Your screen options allow you to pick certain battle formations and plans of attack in fighting the aliens.
As you investigate further, your team is attacked and Carter has to fight off more aliens. Eventually Carter and his team locate the missing scientist. But an alien portal opens and Carter is sucked in. In a holy crap moment, Carter awakens to discover he is either on the aliens' ship or he is on their planet or perhaps even in their dimension. I'm not a huge fan or really familiar with the older XCOM games. This new one does look well done and I like the idea of having to put a little more thought into the FPS strategy and tactics. The graphics and level designs look great and the atmosphere is very creepy seeing older suburban America being overtaken from within. There is also an terraforming element to the aliens that players will learn more about as the game progresses. XCOM is due out March 6 in 2012. It will be released by 2K Games on Xbox 360, PS3, and Windows PC.