I love X-COM. I liked XCOM. I was weirded out by XCOM. Until now, the connection between 2K Marin’s XCOM and Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown seemed tenuous, especially when the former’s involved people fragmenting into cubes and undulating tar blobs screaming through rooms, but the developer sat down and revealed what the heck they’ve been doing for the past three years in advance of August’s release of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Unfortunately, I get the feeling that while they have technically made a better game in the end, they’ve also potentially made a far less interesting one.
In The Bureau, which takes place in 1962, you encounter aliens of Firaxis’ variety – including Mutons and Sectoids – in an earlier encounter that plagued the United States. I was obviously offended that 2K Marin’s abstract enemies because they didn’t match what the Gallop brothers had produced fifteen years earlier when they built the franchise that Marin was rebooting, but now that they’re lifting from the Gallops as well, it gives them some relationship with Firaxis’ smash hit.
It also means that despite the initial mislead, if they took the original concept for the XCOM first-person shooter, removed the XCOM name and made it today, it might be a game I’d be more interested in playing than The Bureau. Even if it offended my sensibilitys initially, those abstract enemies are terrifying and I deeply wanted to understand that world, including the crazy alternate universe that may still be in the final game. In their transition to their newest model, they developed polygonal enemies that were perhaps comical but original nonetheless. Likewise, the original’s first-person perspective versus the modern team-based tactical third-person action seemed more palatable to me.
At any rate, stay tuned for The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which launches August 20th.