XCOM E3 Preview
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2010-06-20 Xbox 360 FPS M (Mature) 2K Games / 2K Marin

It was inside a 50's-style kitchen that we had our demo of XCOM, presented by Martin Slater, Studio Director at 2K Marin.

The story takes place in America, during the 50's; a time of patriotism, security, 2.5 children families and rock'n'roll. An agency has been formed to fight the unknown, using strategic decision-making to stop an alien threat. Your base is apparently an aircraft hangar, the people , vehicles and environments completely reflect the time period. But there's more to the hangar than meets the eye.

XCOM will include familiar elements from the original game, plus new ones we have never seen before. We play as William Carter, an agent who has recently discovered an alien artefact. Your job is to accept missions, which are posted in the base's map, and attempt to save as many survivors as possible, while also keeping your partners alive. Missons can reward you with an experimental mineral that powers up experimental weapons and new research. Some missions will lead to others, but can also cancel previously existing ones, and your choice of missions will have an impact in the game later on.

We were told that "we've got powerful weapons, but there's more good shit coming later on". This means that in our base we have weapons specialists working for us, outfitting us with weapons before we leave for a mission. There is actually a weapons rack on the wall where everything is available for the taking. However, you have a limited supply of ammo, so you must use your weapons wisely and sparingly.

Research is a key element in XCOM. You do research while you're on the field, during missions, by taking photos of what may seem like important evidence. You then bring these photos back to the base and hand them over to your scientists, who work directly for you, and will analyze the photos to find better ways of combating the alien menace.

Your team of two always comes with on missions, and using them is the key to succeed. However, you must also watch over them, since they will get hurt and can die.

So far, what we learned was based on familiar elements of the franchise, so from here on, we were checking out the new features.

William has a map that shows him where to go, a list of goals, and any research notes taken. In the demo, we followed a trail of black goo into a house. We took photos of bodies covered in this black substance; we are encouraged to snap photos of anything that may look like it could help us understand what we are fighting against.

Blobs are attacking humans, and our job is to try to save them. We saw William use incendiary blob grenades and a tesla coil weapon that caused electric shocks. In the chaotic mess of blob bursting through the walls, we managed to save one civilian from the blob, but lost one of our team members in the process.

On our way out, the Titan appears. Initially a prism, this alien invader changes form and becomes aggressive. Titan begins disintegrating objects, ripping things apart and sucking objects in. We have no idea what this is or how to fight it, so it's a good idea to take a photo and take it back to the base to learn more about it. We make a run for our vehicle, dodging the incoming blobs and we make it out just in time as the Titan charges for a powerful blast.

XCOM is scheduled for a 2011 release on PC and Xbox 360, and be reassured that there are loyal fans of the original game working within the 2K Marin dev team. By fans, for fans! In the end, I couldn't leave without shaking Martin Slater's hand.