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PC Game Review: ‘X-Com Enemy Within’

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header_292x136X-Com Enemy Within is quite the step above the base X-Com game. It takes an interesting concept and adds elements that tweak the gameplay. While one could argue that some of it is gimmicky, it does add some more meat to the game.

The Mechs and cybernetics additions to your team, while expensive in the new element MELD even at the easy game level, do add an extra dimension to the game. I am not sure if the cybernetics are as a good a value as the big stompy mech suits. But, that might just depend on gameplay. Additional choices in squad members is always a welcome addition to any game, though some redundancy might occur.

The additional enemy faction, EXALT, a bunch of pro-alien activists, is a tad contrived and really could have been used a bit better. The fact that your first mission is to capture one of their agents is in France is a bit twee to say the least. Still, a rival faction of humans with access to alien weapons does make for some interesting encounters. Maybe a DLC that allows you to play them could be interesting.

When things are ticking along nicely this game can be good for several hours of tense fun.

Sadly though, while the game has been tarted up with new treats, many of the problems with the base game have not been fixed. Firaxis has not used this DLC as an opportunity to clean up the bug-infested inconsistent gameplay. You will still find yourself having to repeat maps because the game has just stopped working or glitched so your entire squad gets wiped out. You can also find your squaddies stuck so they can’t do anything and thus get killed. Moving vertically on ladders is still mostly broken and more often than not you will just run round the building rather than up to the top of it.

The difficulty level is inconsistent and broken as well. I had to restart the game once because it was clearly not on easy (also foreign voices weren’t working) and I was getting slaughtered. Even on the easier setting, the game will still decide randomly to wipe out your entire squad even if it is an experienced one. There is still no cancel order command so if it glitches and does something you didn’t select you are stuffed. There are also still enemies warping and not triggering overwatch despite clear line of shot. And, enemies make shots that you can replicate through solid walls and other obstructions.

Instead of enjoying a great strategic experience, it is a question of “how long I can play before I encounter a bug.”  If you are lucky, the bug just forces you to repeat the map.  If not, it can be game killing. If the experience of TotalBiscuit and Angry Joe are anything to go by, the multiplayer is seriously broken.

Ultimately X-Com is a game with great ideas and potential that is ruined by poor execution and lack of attention to detail. It is a buggy mess that can be infuriating on a regular basis. If you have a high tolerance for such things then give a shot, but otherwise stay away at least until the Steam sales.

X-Com: Enemy Within is rated M (Mature) by the ESRB for: Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence. This game can also be found on Xbox 360 and PS3.

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About Marty Dodge