The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Review

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The XCOM series is one I’m fairly new to, I had heard of the games a little but had a small understanding of what they were until about a year ago when I heard of the new X-COM game by Firaxis which I have since played and enjoyed  for its gameplay and interesting fiction. Around the same time I heard the strategy game I also had discovered another XCOM game planned to be a first person shooter and then suddenly disappeared. Then a few months ago the game had reemerged as a 3rd person shooter with a promising squad strategy aspect set at the time of the beginning of the XCOM organization so I was intrigued to find how well this game stacks up to its promises.

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In the game you play William Carter, a CIA agent assigned to deliver a high priority package to Myron Faulke at a top secret facility. While waiting in your room with the package a woman (who you later find had been controlled by the Outsiders) forcibly enters the room and opens the package after shooting you in the shoulder, when you awaken after being attack you find wound healed and the woman who attacked you charred black for no explainable reason. You then head outside to find most soldiers at the base dead and mysterious creatures attacking the base, from there you rescue Myron and escape the facility to begin planning defenses against the alien attack.

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The Bureau, as I said earlier, is a 3rd person shooter with squad control mechanics; overall the gameplay is okay, but a major problem lets it down. In the game there are three types of missions, Primary – Story Missions, Secondary – Side Missions, and Dispatch missions where you send your squad members out on missions without you for new equipment or squad members. In each mission, you are allowed to bring two squad members and there are four classes: Commandos or Assault, Engineer, Recon, and Support. You command your squad similarly to a game like Mass Effect, you press B on the Xbox controller and the game brings up a circular screen where you select which abilities you’d like each squad member to use.

However I have a few complaints with these aspects. I never did a dispatch mission because it required the combined level of the squad members to be a certain ranking, and I didn’t want to send my best men on the missions because they wouldn’t be available to me on my next mission. The squad A.I. is also not the best and this is not aided by the games difficulty at times, often my squad members would go down while during a major battle and I would have to turn all my attention to him because of the games short revive timer that doesn’t reset each time the same person goes down. Additionally going down puts all abilities at max cool down, abilities like heal which can be critical in the middle of a fight and has a cool down timer of 50 seconds.

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Odds and Ends

This game definitely isn’t the best looking game around but I found it was tolerable once you played for about an hour. The voice acting wasn’t great either, especially for side characters like your squad members, who thankfully rarely talk.  In addition to this the talking animations aren’t very good either. Besides these faults, the audio is pretty good, the guns, enemies, and ships you encounter sound nice and feel like they belong in an XCOM game.

Final Thoughts

This game is in no way the best game of the year and can be extremely aggravating at times, but if you can make it through some of the roughness you’ll find an game that nicely shows the creation of XCOM and a has an interesting story that goes to odd, but intriguing places later on. Overall I would give this game a 70 out of 100 and would consider getting if you can find it for about $20

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