March 03, 2013

Why I think XCOM matters

I'm a PC gamer by heart. The motivation to buy PS3 was mainly getting the Blu-ray, and gaming was just a bonus. In fact, PS3 is my first console and I was a bit surprised about how similar many triple-A games were to each other. A typical PS3 game seemed to be somewhere between either a first person shooter or a third person action/adventure, often with trendy "RPG elements". And then of course there were platformers, e.g. visually appealing Trine. In general some indie games do seem to offer more refreshing ideas for this console generation.

As a PC gamer my favorite genres are RPGs and turn-based tactics, so I was familiar with the classic games like X-COM and Jagged Alliance. Perhaps because of that my expectations for console games were not completely realistic in the first place.

My list of unplayed games is constantly growing and I rarely buy the new titles. The new XCOM was the welcome exception, which brought back the fond memories from the 90's. I tried the demo on both PC and PS3, and the spirit of the original X-COM was strongly present. As Steam bundled Civilization V with the pre-order, I was once again lured to buy the PC version. I was very satisfied with final game as well. Cleverly simplified and faster turn-based combat offered deeper tactical choices when the soldiers gained new abilities with promotions. And how to best use these abilities was mostly left for the player to discover.

For me the XCOM was the most exciting and anticipated game in 2012, and I tend to think that there must be other console owners thinking the same way out there. I'm just not that extraordinary person. Whether XCOM was a great success in console sales remains a question. But most importantly, XCOM proved that it is possible to make an enjoyable and deep strategy game also for console players (see: Kotaku or Rock, Paper, Shotgun). I really do hope to see more games like XCOM, especially for the consoles. In this case I don't mind at all if some game studio is trying to copying the formula. So, when the prices drop, perhaps I'll still buy the PS3 version, and hope that someone notices.

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