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X-COM: Enemy Unknown (2012)


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#1 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1199

Posted 09 May 2013 - 06:56 AM

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.


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#2 CJ_COIMBRA   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 768

Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:01 AM

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

 

As a fan of the original game as well as TFTD, I agree with most of your points. But I think if they had just modernized the original game most people would find it unattractive and too difficult that's why I think they made all those bad design choices.



#3 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5753

Posted 09 May 2013 - 09:43 AM

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

 

As a fan of the original game as well as TFTD, I agree with most of your points. But I think if they had just modernized the original game most people would find it unattractive and too difficult that's why I think they made all those bad design choices.

 

Having played both the originals and the new one i must say i really like the remake and think the new combat system is pretty decent in its own way(The LoS issues are a bit annoying.)

 

On higher difficulties i've had my chance to hit down at 1% though so it seems to be working decently (anything below the classic difficulty is a joke which is a bit sad. my main problem with the remake is the lack of strategic depth in the geoscape(1 base ... no joint strikes with interceptors, single best strategy is to just focus on engineers to get satellites up quickly, labs and scientists are virtually useless (you get enough of those from abduction missions even if you only take the one that gives scientists when you absolutely have to in order to avoid losing that country), and ofcourse, the bloody UFOs don't actually do anything except possibly shoot down your sats if you don't kill them after they've been detected. (in the originals you could prevent terror missions from occuring by shooting down the terrorships for example, now the terrorsites just appear randomly)

i do love the iron man mode (makes things a bit more challenging as you can't do save/reload and it autosaves whenever something important happen).

 

The character skill system is also quite nice as it gives you more diverse units than you had in the original games and it does add quite a bit of tactical depth despite the "2 action" system(allthough the 2 action system makes things like overwatch and unlimited reloads less problematic (as they require a full action and ends the turn). also, sectopods are just pure fun to fight on higher difficulties (nothing in the original games were anywhere near as nasty)

 

if you've played the originals, do yourself a favor and start on classic difficulty with ironman enabled, it makes the game far more enjoyable.


Edited by SimonForsman, 09 May 2013 - 09:46 AM.

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#4 tstrimple   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1718

Posted 09 May 2013 - 02:45 PM

Honestly I appreciate how streamlined the new game is. I was a big fan of the original, but it's micromanagement of units isn't suitable to modern gamers and for the most part isn't necessary. However, yes... please fix the line of sight!



#5 Ryan_001   Prime Members   -  Reputation: 1218

Posted 09 May 2013 - 03:09 PM

I played the original and loved it, but I have issues with XCOM:EU too.  Though I think I disagree with you on a few accounts.

 

I like the new non-TU system.  Micromanaging TUs, while effective, wasn't very realistic and made it too easy in many cases IMO.  The current system is definitely coarser, but it does add more tension and suspense.  Doing a movement means you have to make sure you really want to do that movement.  And I like cover, it adds alot to the game IMO.

 

That said....

 

LOS and cover IS broken.  I have an idea why, but unless I could look at the code I can't confirm, but its not really important why as a consumer.  I can post screenshots and replicate the errors easily, but it is straight broken.  Its exceptionally frustrating to lose a soldier because of these bugs.  And since the entire combat portion of the game centers around LOS and cover, the fact that these core systems are broken is a joke.  These bugs alone should've been enough to warrant poor reviews/scores, they occur so often and with such consistency, on such an important game mechanic, that it baffles me at how it got such high scores/reviews.

 

The game is very buggy.  A large number of the maps have dead-zones that can't be fired through or will prevent LOS despite nothing being there.  Explosions don't always affect things above or below them (but still within the blast radius).  Aliens are not always drawn at the locations the game thinks they are, causing all sorts of weird bugs like accidentally blowing up aliens on the other side of the map with a way-ward rocket, to aliens clearly hit to emerge unscathed, to bullets firing off in the weirdest of directions, to aliens magically spawning, to groups of aliens being 'activated' on the other end of a map and then slowly 'pathing across the entire to map to where they actually should be.

 

The alien AI is terribad, and like many things in this game broken as well.  Aliens out of your men's LOS don't do anything but sit there waiting for you to find them, which alone seems lazy to me, but that's not the worst of it.  Aliens out of LOS will periodically teleport (not the same bug as above) around the map.  Get a few snipers and throw battle scanners around and watch the sheer nonsense of aliens magically warping all around.  This throws out a lot of tactical options, and leads to a lot of frustrating encounters.  It makes things like flanking an enemy with an assault or heavy much riskier because often they run into aliens that could not or were not there, but warped in 1-2 turns ago with no way for you to know.  They still will occasionally (though not as much as at release) warp in right on top or under your men.

 

There is a large 'disengagement' between what happens in combat and what happens in the over-map gameplay.  Your performance in combat is pretty much an all-or nothing.  You can't complete 1/2 a mission and pull out when men are low.  Rescue an escort but can't clear out those last thin-men sitting way at the back, well too bad, you lose the escort if you abort the mission.  Many missions don't even have 'landing areas' to get your men to if things go south, you abort the mission you lose all your men.  Which makes everything beginning to end an all or nothing endeavour, either the missions are too easy, or too hard.  Rarely are they fun or challenging, just boring or frustrating.  On top of that how you perform in missions seems to have no effect on the strategic over-map gameplay.  You can completely stomp the aliens at every encounter and still bleed countries left right and center.  In fact the only reasons you really need to keep your men alive is that for the final end level you need 6 colonels.  Thats it, the rest of the time you can lose soldiers willy-nilly, and as long as the map is completed, who cares.  The two sides of the game-play need to actually work and complement each other, but at the moment its basically two separate games duct-taped together.  In this regards even the original was better (which is kinda sad because I felt it was one of the biggest weaknesses of the original).

 

There are also a number of design decisions that seem lazy/boring to me, but if they could fix the above, that alone would go a long way to making the game decent.  What's sad is they didn't even bother to patch/fix these bugs post release.

 

I think what bothers me most is the glowing reviews.  These bugs aren't minor, they directly effect the core gameplay, and in many cases can't be easily worked around.  There's no way an astute reviewer who played the game through once would miss these, and yet not a single review that I read even mentions the buggy mess.



#6 Nypyren   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3673

Posted 09 May 2013 - 04:01 PM

My complaint with XCOM-2012 is that the game is story-driven rather than mechanics-driven, which reduces its replay value.

In the original, the AI would spawn UFOs with missions. The UFOs would go around and perform their mission whether you detected them or not. You could interrupt their mission by shooting them down or allowing them to get to a certain stage in their mission to exploit them (Supply Ship, I'm looking at you).

Aliens would create bases, and having bases around would increase activity. They could create multiple bases per game (instead of just one in XCOM-2012 game). They could attack YOUR base, and you would actually fight inside the floor plan that you built. You could detect the incoming battleship and intercept it for possible Elerium, or decide to let your fusion ball defenses obliterate it.

The original Geoscape had MANY more points where the player could make a significant choice which actually had a rational outcome on the game.

#7 Plethora   Members   -  Reputation: 679

Posted 09 May 2013 - 06:27 PM

As a huge fan of the original I'm going to jump in and say that, overall, I enjoyed this new incarnation.  If you want to score the original game as a 10/10 and pure gaming gold (which I agree that it is), then I would personally rate this one as a solid 7.  It's not great, but its good, solid, and I enjoyed playing it.

 

I think it bears pointing out that the devs had said that the project started with a very narrow scope.  A lot of the things in this thread are things that have been acknowledged as either problems with the game and its design, or things that they would have loved to include, but it wasn't in the game's scope from the start.  While I agree that at a very basic level a game can only ever be judged on its own merit, I think it at least bears pointing out that there were somewhat unique circumstances at play in the development of this particular title.  I've read a lot about how one of the primary missions the dev team had to deal with from day one was to prove that a turn based tactical strategy was even capable of making money in 2012, that the prevailing wisdom on the publisher side of things was that these games won't/can't make money.  In various post release interviews Jake Solomon (lead designer) has hinted around the fact that he sees the success of this game as a jumping off point for better things in the future.  I believe he has even acknowledged that this incarnation plays more like an action game and less like a tense horror game, and that's something he'd like to return to in the future.


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#8 Kaze   Members   -  Reputation: 948

Posted 09 May 2013 - 08:05 PM

I played both the original and the new Xcom and the only thing I feel they oversimplified was the inventory. I liked the two move system though it would have been nice if it told what you has sight and flank on before you moved.

 

Its is very buggy in a lot of ways but how much being less cookie cutter makes up for that is personal preference.



#9 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1171

Posted 11 May 2013 - 08:30 AM

I decided to try the game out, since it looked fairly interesting.

Haven't gotten very far, but so far the tutorial has managed to annoy me. Why was the very first mission teaching me how to lose all my party members? Why did only one survive? I have a thing for not letting my squad get slaughtered, but the tutorial gives you no choice of the matter. It's a bad way to start a game when the tutorial pisses me off.... hopefully it gets better.

 

Edit: 6 hours in, the gameplay is fun - though some of the points originally mentioned here are starting to annoy me (the inability to undo your orders like go into overwatch). 

But I just hit the first central story mission (Assault on the alien base), and holy f*ck! 

 

It was like hitting a brick wall in terms of difficulty. Playing on normal, I didn't expect to see 3/5 of my squad wiped at the very first fight in the mission. I'm either doing something completely wrong in terms of how I've equipped my soldiers, or in terms of how I play - but as far as I see, unless you have foreknowledge of what will trigger those 4 legged aliens, you can't hope for most of your squad to survive. Thankfully playing without Ironman, so I reloaded... and then probably reloaded like a dozen times to complete that mission. Brick f*cking wall!

 

Edit 2: After trying my best, I had to relent and lose one soldier on a Very Hard terror mission. This game... I ended up with rescuing 1 civilian out of 6, and losing 1 soldier out of 5. My rating for both those? "Good" ... this game is unforgiving as f*ck. Also starting to hate the RNG. More often than not, my 70%+ shots end up missing. That so far, as a new player, is probably my worst gripe with this game. I've seen shots of a few meters away with a heavy class miss! Even the animation couldn't quite keep up, and showed some of the fired shots connect.. but no - game says they all missed, so I'm effed.


Edited by Milcho, 11 May 2013 - 06:34 PM.


#10 Prinz Eugn   GDNet+   -  Reputation: 3516

Posted 13 May 2013 - 08:57 PM

Sooo... which of the XCOMs is the bestCOMs? [I kind of want to play one now]


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#11 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5753

Posted 13 May 2013 - 11:15 PM

Sooo... which of the XCOMs is the bestCOMs? [I kind of want to play one now]

The first two. (2nd one is harder so i'd recommend starting with the first)
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#12 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 27519

Posted 13 May 2013 - 11:25 PM

Haven't gotten very far, but so far the tutorial has managed to annoy me. Why was the very first mission teaching me how to lose all my party members? Why did only one survive? I have a thing for not letting my squad get slaughtered, but the tutorial gives you no choice of the matter. It's a bad way to start a game when the tutorial pisses me off....

I actually really liked that. It's as if, while teaching you the controls, the game being extremely blunt about the fact that combat is deadly and that you will experience loss, whether you're a quick-load-addict or not happy.png

#13 BeanDog   Members   -  Reputation: 1063

Posted 14 May 2013 - 12:34 AM


Sooo... which of the XCOMs is the bestCOMs? [I kind of want to play one now]

The first two. (2nd one is harder so i'd recommend starting with the first)

And maybe I was just terrible at it, but even the first one was very difficult. One thing that helped me was to recruit lots of soldiers, then examine their randomly-generated stats, and immediately dismiss anyone who didn't have high stats. Expensive, but very effective in combat.


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#14 irreversible   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1199

Posted 14 May 2013 - 09:09 AM

Sooo... which of the XCOMs is the bestCOMs? [I kind of want to play one now]

 

This is a really tricky question.

 

I really enjoyed Enforcer (the arcade FPS one) for what it is. I also thought Apocalypse (the third one) did a very good job in its own right. Nothing beats Terror From The Deep, though, which fixed some of the problems the first one had and extended gameplay quite a bit with stuff like two-part missions.

 

The rest are garbage to me, though (excluding the original).



#15 Milcho   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1171

Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:33 AM

I actually really liked that. It's as if, while teaching you the controls, the game being extremely blunt about the fact that combat is deadly and that you will experience loss, whether you're a quick-load-addict or not


But it doesn't really teach you much about combat deadliness. One death is a cutscene death, and the other two are one-shotted by sectoids - which don't normally one shot your troops. The deaths feel just story driven - like they wanted to show how badass the aliens are. At least they could've put in some flying disks or a muton or two to show that off.
Anyway, I wouldn't mind so much if those deaths were avoidable somehow (say you're really really good), but the deaths are just scripted, making me just cringe.

On an unrelated note, the game mechanic that all shots are hit/miss per shot is kind of bothersome. I understand things like sniper rifles, and rifles and pistols maybe. But someone with a shotgun or the heavy that fires a ton of bullets doesn't fit that mechanic too well. I think they should've made those hit/miss per bullet, not per shot - as I said, sometimes even the graphics show one bullet going through an enemy even when it registers as a 'miss'.

Edited by Milcho, 16 May 2013 - 04:36 AM.


#16 Champloo13   Members   -  Reputation: 152

Posted 19 May 2013 - 06:25 AM

  The new X-com is simply a generic adoptation of classic hits to "contemporary game design" which basically means it's been tailored to let even a retarded monkey to do well, just like other recent remakes("Fallout 3") is just another example of dumbing down to suit the masses, and ofc. just like other Ubisoft, EA and other AAA studios - the only thing you should expect is extremely superficial commercial titles with lots of hype and total lack of innovation and depth.

 

 In short - Big AAA game studio - shitty games, lot's of hype.



#17 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2137

Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:12 PM

  The new X-com is simply a generic adoptation of classic hits to "contemporary game design" which basically means it's been tailored to let even a retarded monkey to do well, just like other recent remakes("Fallout 3") is just another example of dumbing down to suit the masses, and ofc. just like other Ubisoft, EA and other AAA studios - the only thing you should expect is extremely superficial commercial titles with lots of hype and total lack of innovation and depth.

 

 In short - Big AAA game studio - shitty games, lot's of hype.

Have you actually played the game? 


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#18 Champloo13   Members   -  Reputation: 152

Posted 26 May 2013 - 06:11 AM

 Yes I played it, as well as all of the originals about the time they came out, I also played every other indie x-com that came after the Ubisoft's latest flop, True I didn't play it long, the shallow feeling of it especially in compare to the classic quickly overcame me and I stopped, played for a about 2 hours.



#19 ChaosEngine   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2137

Posted 26 May 2013 - 03:34 PM

 Yes I played it, as well as all of the originals about the time they came out, I also played every other indie x-com that came after the Ubisoft's latest flop, True I didn't play it long, the shallow feeling of it especially in compare to the classic quickly overcame me and I stopped, played for a about 2 hours.

Well, if you'd played for longer than 2 hours, you'd have discovered it's actually a pretty unforgiving game, especially on any difficulty above normal and especially in "ironman" mode (which is really the only way to play xcom).

 

I suggest you give it another go. It's not without it's flaws, but I actually thought they did a pretty decent job of streamlining the interface and it's certainly not a game that " let even a retarded monkey to do well,"


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#20 Champloo13   Members   -  Reputation: 152

Posted 26 May 2013 - 04:08 PM

let even a retarded monkey to do well

 

  That might have been an overstatement I agree, but it's still way to arcadey for my tastes anyway, and the atmosphere even for nostalgic reasons alone, just not there and I don't like when games in order to be challenging require fiddling with settings to extremes, that just never worked for me, it's arcadey at it's very basis, you can't change that with "ironman" mode.  

 

  No offence meant with that "retarded monkey" comment, I take it back.






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