I’ve been doing this gig for over four years now, and I’ve still never given a game a 10/10, although I’ve come close several times. The most recent was XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 2K’s remake of the classic Alien Invasion series that 90’s PC gamers will remember with fondness. Being a ‘remake’, there was every possibility that 2K would mess up in some way; not quite capturing what was (and so not getting the old audience) and not quite enticing new audiences either.
Remakes can be a bit like movie tie-ins that way. But as preview builds and information started to get released, it soon became apparent that we may be onto a winner here. I was certainly excited; That’s not to say that I went into the review thinking “This is going to be 10/10″, but during the first few hours I was thinking “This could be the one”.
It’s an interesting emotional process – playing a game, being so full of hope and excitement (slightly unprofessional, but there you go) and then slowly but surely (as you take stock of the faults, bugs, annoyances etc…) realise that, actually, it’s probably not worth a 10 and we need to settle on some arbitrary number that basically translates into “Good, but with the odd issue”. It’s one of the things that’s annoying, from a reviewers point of view. Really good games are easy to score; really bad games are easy to score. Games that are highly subjective or have issues that may or may not annoy others though? Nightmare. You’ve probably heard this from others, hell, you may have even said it yourself, but the numbered rating system really is a bit naff. But hey, I got over it; I always do. You just have to soldier one in these instances, pick a score that seems about right and just make sure your words are spot on.
XCOM really is a cracking game though, even on the console. I’d argue actually that it’s probably slightly ‘better’ on the console, only in the sense that a PC version of XCOM could do so much more than what was actually done. Strategy games and Consoles haven’t always had the easiest of relationships (EndWar, Y U NO get sequel!?), but XCOM is the best console-strategy & management experience I’ve ever had. The controls, the presentation, the interface… everything just works, and works really well. It’s a shame really that it wasn’t as polished as it could have been.
Don’t get me wrong, the PC version is good – visuals are better, you get more customizations options with your troops which is quite nice (only if you buy new though), but there’s nothing else really to it, and a PC-only version of XCOM could do a lot more – just look at the originals. I know, the lower visuals on the originals meant that a hell of a lot more depth could be achieved, but I can’t help but think a lot more could have transferred over if console limitations weren’t also being considered (although it could have just been a question of time and resources as well). The same bugs and issues plague the PC version as well, and then there were some basic design decisions that spoil the game sometimes. You can read more about it in my review if you really want.
But yeah – you should really consider getting XCOM. Dishonored was the other great game to launch recently, and I hear good things about that as well although to be honest the whole Steampunk thing doesn’t really grab me. I’m a sci-fi boy all the way. If you can afford them both, do, although Christmas is not too far away.