Coming to 360, PS3 and PC l Published by 2K Games l Developed by 2K Marin l Classified MA15+ l Supports 1 player l Due to arrive 20.08.13
Erin had been abducted by aliens, so he could not attend the follow-up preview session to his last adventure. Or at least, that was alI I could make out from the partially redacted document Karen had couriered to me. My own adventure had a rough start, as I went to attend the session at Crowne Plaza, rather than Crown Towers. However, thanks to my gracious host, Alan Moore, and PR guru, Patrick Kolan, I made it to the session unscathed. After a brief chat, I was set up with the tutorial mission of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
The game put me in the dapper waistcoat and fedora of special agent William Carter. The opening cut scenes showed a maudlin Carter waiting in a room for an escort for a mysterious brief case. A female officer arrived, but was not who she appeared to be, and though I was tempted to yell “Evil Fembot” at the screen, I resisted and after a few seconds realised that a) XCOM canon does not include Austin Powers, and b) I was wrong. The officer, a “sleepwalker”, with dark blood pouring from her eyes, attacked Carter, and as he blacked out I thought all was over before it had begun.
I could select movement, attack and special move commands and stack them to create complex layers of orders.
The game proper then began and introduced the controls as I guided Carter through his escape of the building, which appeared to be under heavy attack. The third person movement and attack controls were quite familiar, and had much in common with Mass Effect, including a cover mechanic with the added bonus of mantling.
After escaping the building I used a pistol to take down a small group of ‘greys’, familiar alien enemies from other XCOM titles. I found the shooting mechanics to be really solid and I felt that 2K Marin had done a great job on the 1960s setting. If the next Gears of War has Marcus in a waistcoat and tie, you’ll know the look has taken hold.
It wasn’t long before I met my first squad mate and was introduced to the action wheel, which slowed down time when it was activated. I could then select movement, attack and special move commands for my squaddies from the wheel, and stack them to create complex layers of orders. I had to balance taking direct control of Carter with issuing orders to the others to ensure I took down the enemies while keeping my squaddies safe.
I picked up another ally and my team continued through a wrecked facility to rescue “The Brass” from the alien attack. The story unfolded through character conversations and in-game cut scenes. The voice acting was quite good, and some conversations provided different choices, once again similar to Mass Effect. A wheel allowed me to probe for more information or had me choose from several conversation options. It wasn’t clear what effect my choices had, but it did give the game more of an RPG feel. I also stumbled across various letters and some audio reels in the environments, which added elements to the story.
I also encountered stronger enemies, called ‘outsiders’. These were taller and tougher than the little greys and soaked up more damage. A little later some alien commanders appeared sporting special powers and the ability to rally their troops.
After completing the tutorial mission, my team were flown to the newly operational, but still incomplete, Bureau facility. The game took some time to expand on the storyline with more cutscenes and dialog. I was then given a chance to guide Carter around the facility. Here I could assemble teams for missions, change my equipment, and see if the research lab had any new toys. Carter was presented with a futuristic looking wrist guard that would allow him to subdue enemies. After spending a bit of time on the gun range, and talking to other personnel around the base, I sent Carter and two new squad mates on another mission.
I could assemble teams for missions, change my equipment, and see if the research lab had any new toys.
After being dropped in a seemingly quiet American country town, I guided Carter and his team towards the town centre. It was not long before we met massive resistance and my skills were put to the test. Alien enemies proved reasonably tough, trying to flank my team and flush us out with grenades. Although Carter could only carry two weapons at a time, I’d had the chance to try out shotguns, automatic rifles and sniper rifles.
At one point in the mission, I had to select one of my squaddies to override a door mechanism while Carter and my other ally defended their positions. I made use of Carter’s newly acquired skill that allowed him to levitate an enemy in the air, effectively paralysing him and making him an easy target. Shortly after that, I felt the bitter sting of permadeath. One of my boys fell and bled out before I could have Carter heal him. I felt bad for a bit, but then accepted a replacement that arrived quite quickly.
At that point, our host had to wrap up the preview session. I had a lot of fun and I am now quite excited about this game. It seems really polished at this point and I’m looking forward to playing the final version. I just hope that 2K takes on my idea of collectible XCOM branded waistcoats and fedoras. You just know all the cool kids would be wearing them.