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‘XCOM’ reboot pales in comparison

Sept 11, 2013

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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The Bureau: XCOM DeclassifiedExcept when it comes to RPGs, I have never been a fan of tactical shooters in which you must guide the AI characters as well as your own. I don’t mind if they assist me and don’t get in my way but I am not into babysitting the tactics of mindless NPCs.

Not an admirer of the old ‘Rainbow Six’ game format or anything like it, about the only release I didn’t mind was the underrated ‘SWAT 4’ simply because the commands were minimal and your buddies could function half-decently without a helping hand.

With that in mind, what drew me to ‘The Bureau: XCOM Declassified’ was its ‘X-Files’ like theme. Set in 1962 and the Cold War, ‘Declassified’ details the U.S. government’s war against hostile aliens who have invaded Earth. ‘ XCOM was originally sanctioned to coordinate U.S. military forces against a suspected Soviet invasion of America. However, under the supervision of its director, XCOM evolved into a M.I.B. like agency scoping out alien threats.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified As CIA special agent William Carter, you are drawn into XCOM’s ranks when the aliens hit hard. Now, as one of their commanders, you supervise missions all across the United States to thwart the despicable plans of the “Outsiders”.

In preparing for the missions, you assemble your team of experts in particular fields of military operation. Throughout the game, you will not only keep track of your own stats and abilities but those of your team as well. For me, it was too much to juggle. Maybe if ‘XCOM’ was a true RPG format instead of a tactical shooter hybrid, I would have warmed up to the idea. I just wanted to blast aliens not worry if this or that officer has ranked up properly.

When it comes to storylines, 2K Games like Ubisoft has built their company around telling immersive, emotional and complex tales. ‘XCOM’ is no exception. In actuality, it is the only thing that kept me pressing on through the linear missions. Still, XCOM’s plot has many, many holes. Things that just don’t make sense like Carter gaining special powers for no apparent reason. There are a multitude of threads which are not as tightly woven as they should be.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified The combat is ‘Mass Effect’ inspired but your troops have to be guided along every step of the way. If you take the lead and decide to let them just fend for themselves, they will be flanked and killed like the moronic shooting galleries targets they are. If you, as Carter, are aced, you must start over again. Hitting your head against a brick wall hurts less.

Rebooted from the real-time strategy series by Mythos and MicroProse, XCOM’s transition has been a shaky one and it shows in the final product. It is not nearly as polished you would expect. Like its reprocessed aliens, ‘XCOM’ has an identity crisis that cannot be overlooked and in turn, micromanaging every move and stat is a massive experience damaging distraction. In the end, I just wanted to surrender the Earth to the bug-eyed monsters. This Earth just ain’t worth saving.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: 2K Marin
ESRB Rating: M for Mature
Official Site:

Rating: 4.5 / 10

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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see