AFAIR this type of thread was created when the game was first released. Well, yeah...
I don't do rants often (so if you don't like reading them, better stop now), but having huge appreciation for X-COM, I can't just stay quiet now that I've played the remake/adaption.
Let me start with a simple question: why the hell did this game get such high ratings? The remake is a mess of broken mechanics with close to zero actual strategic tension and reliability (and yeah - I'm comparing here). Before you tell me I'm not playing it right, please read the items below.
The main qualm I have is with tactical combat: the entire strategic aspect of the game has been removed and replaced with a simplified click-to-walk mechanic fit for 3-year-olds. And then they nerfed that, too.
I'm a few hours into the game and so far here are a few of the things that have frustrated me to hell (I would say 9 is a pretty sizable number for a few hours - I don't even have Plasma yet):
1) one-click order finalization. The player can't reconsider anything without loading. Click on that Overwatch too early? Too bad - now you're suck there, because apparently it makes sense to stick to real-time mechanics in a turn-based game.
2) a previously unseen enemy gets an interrupt while I'm moving? Yeah, better NOT give me the option to reconsider my move, finish the action and place the soldier not in one, but three alien's gun sights to make absolutely sure it dies. Want to move one step at a time? Oh, wait - no concept of time units...
3) I fail to understand why accuracy at me or at the aliens never falls below 60% even if I am or they are hiding behind very apparent obstacles. Line of sight is broken at best in the remake. I don't mind getting shot, but I do not want to see bullets going through trees and giant statues, or a cutscene where my soldier clearly sticks their whole body out from behind cover with the express objective of getting shot, despite the fact that I moved them behind said corner with the express objective of not getting shot
4) can the short cutscenes whenever I find a new group of aliens get any more old after an hour or so? Initially I thought they wouldn't be a problem, but retrying a turn can get REALLY old really quickly if the game flow gets interrupted for 10 seconds every 1-2 minutes. Apparently it also makes sense that I can't adjust any settings in terms of gameplay save for camera angles. The game must be really special to adopt such a one-glove-fits-all approach. As a side note: I enjoy a quick flow whereby my units and the enemy move almost instantly, not spending the bulk of my play time watching character animations.
5) I am all in favor of removing about half of the buttons that the original games had in tactical mode, but removing things like stances (crawl, crouch, stand) and replacing time units with a totally non-descript two-moves-per-turn mechanic is just retarded. Moving one tile to use up your shot is nowhere equal to running 15 tiles to do the same. At first I though it was okay, but I've now begun to see how this is potentially the most retarded design decision in any strategy game ever - for the sheer reason that it gets rid of any and all actual strategy and replaces it with either completely unnecessary dying or forces saving and loading multiple times per turn. Oh yeah - and let's not forget the totally fun case where you're flanked and need to move, but you can't quite make it behind cover so your soldier ends up STANDING one tile from cover like an idiot, instead of lying down four tiles from it (*cough* manual stances *cough*). Another thing that totally blows my mind is the removal of burst fire vs single shot. Granted, while not too well done in the original X-COM, this simple mechanic itself provides for a huge variety in strategic planning. But it introduces a point of decision for the player: so yeah - better remove it.
6) Auto-end turn was one of the first things to be turned off in any serious match in the original X-COM (it was useful only when hunting for that last stray alien), because you always left some spare TU-s at the end of the turn to make final adjustments or perform a last minute save with your troop. It kind of makes sense in the remake given that you can't go back on any of your decisions anyway, but that only compounds the fact that it just makes the gameplay all the more rigid, idiotic and frustrating.
7) Abduction sites (essentially terror sites from the original games) don't have any civilians. What. The. Crap? The entire idea of the terror sites was to save as many civilians as you could - in the remake these are just regular missions. The idea of forcing panic up like this is actually cool, but why do you always get exactly three choices and how come the missions no longer have any tension? On hard difficulty in the original you would get roughly one Sophie's choice per month whereby you had to choose between two terror sites. But you could at least work your infrastructure up to be a able to manage both of them. Eventually. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems this isn't even an option in the remake.
EDIT: Apparently I mistook abduction sites for terror sites, which is incorrect.
8) Overwatch. Sigh... I can't even start analyzing how good it is in terms of effectiveness, but how annoying they've managed to make it to actually use. First of all - if you've never played the original, the equivalent of Overwatch used to be a button that conserved enough time units so your soldier could make a shot during the aliens' turn in the currently selected mode (burst/single) - the game wouldn't allow you to use up these TUs unless you unchecked the flag. This made sure "Overwatch" was passively on every turn unless you specifically and knowingly used up too many time units. In the remake you have to enable it every. single. turn. for every. single. troop. (okay, fine - I haven't tested it - maybe it stays on through multiple turns, but the game doesn't indicate that). It gets better - you have to manually confirm your decision every time by either keeping your other hand on the Return key or moving the mouse around, because you can't reconsider your decision after you've committed a soldier to an action that, by any logic, takes zero action points. It gets better - Overwatch is under a different shortcut key for each and every soldier depending on what abilities they have, so you have to play minesweeper to actually hit it. I mean - who dumbs down everything else, but makes the single most useful ability your soldiers have a total PITA to use?
9) the dumbed down heads-up display. I spent 15 minutes in RAGE looking for a health bar. I didn't find one, because the only place you can see your health is on your character sheet. And it's numeric. In RAGE you have regenerating health, which kind of gives this design decision some credence. It's still retarded, but you can see where they're coming from with their logic. X-COM takes this a step further. It takes a strategy game and it hides every single bit of useful information from the main view. Yes, you get a health indicator above your soldier, but the absolutely ridiculous extent to which the designers have gone to clear the HUD of anything remotely verbose is just hilarious. So, when you click the little character information button, you instead get a completely overblown and useless overview that tells you what "good things" and what "bad things" you have on your soldier. Is the number next to Health the amount of health you have left or is it your base health? Better not show both - TMI bad! Apparently the player doesn't need to pretty much know anything, because that would melt his brain and he would, well, be forced to be aware of what his options are.
I won't pick on smaller stuff like interrupts being forcibly show in slow enough motion so you make a coffee and eat a sandwich before the shot gets fired (and there's no option to turn it off) or the fact that they removed bleeding from the game, which was one of the more interesting combat mechanics when you got hit, or the fact that you're stuck on a single base, which makes absolutely no sense in a remake, or the fact that the Michael McCann epic style music, while cool, is identical to DX:HR and is unfortunately simply distracting in a TBS game. I can understand - to each their own. Okay, I can't understand the above 9 points. But I can understand some of the changes. So yeah - I'm trying.
Once again - don't get me wrong: the original games had a plethora of issues and could've used ample modernization. And there are a number of changes that I think are not that innovative, but are kind of okay to make things more streamlined - such as limiting the squad size to 6, removing the concept of ammo and item drops in general (although I remember low ammo making for some really tense endgame in some longer matches - especially near the beginning of the game when you couldn't use most of the dropped weapons yet in Terror From The Deep), removing production time/resource allocation from item production or sillifying the entire research scheme which is run by a woman who seems to have been born in Germany, raised in South Africa, went to middle school in the US and graduated from Oxford. She looks French Russian, though.
I also acknowledge the fact that 95% of the players have never played the original and probably don't even know one exists, which actually brings me back to my original notion: the reviewers who deemed this a faithful and "not dumbed down" adaption of the original, on whose account I bought the game. Well done, evolution of gaming - well done, indeed. I mean - at least it has particle effects and you can crank the resolution all the way up to HD. Right?
Extra rant item: turning the Floater into a Reaper from SC2 is just silly. They used to be really creepy at the start of the game - now they just look stupid.
Who am I kidding - the particle effects are crap, too...
Edited by irreversible, 09 May 2013 - 07:31 AM.