X-Com Enemy Unrecognisable?

Well, it had to happen otherwise the world would implode from having something actually go to plan without backfiring.  I am, of course, referring to Game Informer’s latest screenies from the recently announced re-imagining of Microprose’s classic turn based beauty, X-Com: Enemy Unknown.  While 2K Marin’s original unveiling was met with an understandable amount of trepidation, coupled with screams of “what the hell?” when it became clear that it was, in fact, a first person shooter rather than any sort of strategic management game, Firaxis’ announcement came with sighs of relief from across the X-Com fan base on hearing that it would, apparently, return to its roots.

These initial claims were, perhaps, somewhat unfounded when today’s update on the Game Informer website not only unveiled a series of new screenshots which, let’s be honest, looked more like a rehash of ALTAR Interactive’s “UFO: Aftermath” and their subsequent follow ups.  While we wouldn’t be naive enough to expect that they would take the original Enemy Unknown and simply update the graphics, with all mechanics remaining exactly as they were, the hope was that they would at least retain an isometric approach rather than the standard three dimensional fare.

Game Informer’s chat with Firaxis resulted in them being told that Enemy Unknown is something of an origin story, much like 2K Marin’s, in that it takes place before the events of the original release. This would explain why the enemy appeared to be Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones rather than anything resembling a shrunken, jaundiced, Heston Blumenthal.  The MIB also appear to be carrying some sort of Dirt Devil so, presumably, it is the duty of the newly-formed XCOM to prevent them from removing too many fallen leaves from the forests of planet Earth.  Understandable, otherwise the composting industry would come under threat.

Aesthetic changes we can live with, of course; what’s progress without a little bit of spit and polish, after all?  What was more worrying, however, was when Game Informer were told of how the original gameplay mechanics were being stripped out and replaced with a less involved approach.

“Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I’ve seen I wouldn’t call it “dumbing down” the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics.”

Perhaps this is nostalgia getting in the way of the facts but, as someone who still plays Enemy Unknown to this day… some eighteen years after its original DOS release… I have to wonder what tedium is being removed because, as far as I’m concerned, everything in Enemy Unknown was perfect and devoid of all tedium.  In fact, the problem I’ve found with anyone attempting to remake it is that they don’t quite capture the involved nature of the original series.  Any game can feature shooting at aliens from behind tree and clear the area to remove any threat, but the fun of the original Enemy Unknown was creating the base, staying on top of all aspects of funding, base management, inventory management, research and development and ultimately manufacturing a new super army featuring alien tech to destroy the threat at its core – the home planet.

From what we’ve seen today, Firaxis don’t appear to be going down this road and are opting for an X-Factor approach to gaming where the reliance on meticulous thought is thrown out of the window in favour of a quick fix for those with no desire to micromanage.  Will it be better than 2K Marin’s XCOM? Probably, but just how good it will be remains to be seen.  One thing is for sure though, and that is that it’s likely going to be the closest thing to a “spit and polish” remake of X-Com that we’ll ever see.  That, in itself, is enough hope to cling on to for this fan at least.

Last five articles by GL News


There are no comments, yet.

Why don’t you be the first? Come on, you know you want to!

Leave a Comment