I’m about ready to wrap up my first* playthrough of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, and you’ll be happy to know that Earth has been saved from the alien menace.
Firaxis’s update makes XCOM play a lot like Valkyria Chronicles;** your soldiers can move and then shoot/defend/item/grenade/etc. Different classes (assault, heavy, sniper, medic) use different weapons and have different special abilities. This makes it a lot easier to keep track of who does what – in X-COM, I had to change the characters’ names to indicate what they were best at, which led to soldiers like Col. Wolfgang Krauser 70TU 80AIM.***
The strategic layer is more streamlined, too. I would have preferred being able to have multiple available teams (if you build multiple Skyrangers) so that you don’t have to choose between missions. More UFO attacks wouldn’t hurt, either. As the game progresses, it seems like you do a lot of waiting at the geoscape for something to happen (whether it’s an abduction, a terror mission, a council mission, or a UFO). In the original X-COM, the longer the game went on, the more frequent the UFO attacks became, until you ended up getting overwhelmed.
I know 1994 was a different gaming era, but I think that really added to the tension.
Taken as a whole, the updates are generally good. The game is still hard, the aliens are still unforgiving, and your soldiers still die heroic (and sometimes, unheroic) deaths. I’ll probably play Classic next, and then I might even give Impossible a try.
You know, when I have copious free time (which means I can pencil it in for December, I guess).
*For certain values of “first.” I restarted my Classic difficulty Ironman game several times while trying and failing to get a grip on the changed systems, before finally caving in and dropping the difficulty back to Normal (though still Ironman).
**Which played a lot like Sakura Taisen, which in turn played a lot like X-COM: UFO Defense. The circle is now complete!
***Yes, I know Wolfgang Krauser is an SNK character. It seemed like most of the random soldiers I got ended up being German with random German names, and this was all I could think of.