XCOM: Enemy Within review - UFO vs Mechs

Date: 2013-11-11 14:01:00
The review was based on the PC version.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a title that in 2012 inspired hope for all fans of turn-based strategies. After almost twenty years, a game has finally appeared, which despite many simplifications has become a worthy successor to the legendary UFO: Enemy Unknown . Earlier attempts to cut coupons from the popularity of MicroProse's hit, UFO: Extraterrestrials by Chaos Concept and UFO: Aftermath / Aftershock / Afterlight by Altar Games, were not good enough to give them more than a moment of attention. Boredom, schematic, lack of fresh ideas, and in the case of Altar Games ( UFO: Aftermath, UFO: Aftershock and UFO: Afterlight ) productions, the introduction of real-time are the main factors that made these items unsuccessful and basically gone unnoticed.

As a classic Enemy Unknown maniac, I did not believe that 2K Games would be up to the challenge. I was afraid that he would create another "monster" that no one would like. Fortunately, I was very wrong and the end result exceeded my wildest expectations. And not only mine, as this title has been enthusiastically received by fans and critics all over the world. No wonder that the manufacturer followed the blow and decided to launch a full-fledged accessory on the market. XCOM: Enemy Within , because we are talking about it, does not offer a new campaign, but it extends the one known from the original with a dozen or so fresh elements.

The most interesting change introduced to the game is the possibility of nanotechnological improvement of our soldiers. All this is due to a new resource called "meld". Generally speaking, it is a kind of nanotechnology swarm of microscopic robots that can modify the human genotype. This translates into the possibility of a genetic "improvement" of the human body or its seamless connection with mechanical elements. What does that really mean? More or less that our commandos gained a much wider spectrum of development than in the base . The most important are genetic modifications that allow a soldier to be turned into a real machine for killing aliens in a short period of time. Each subsequent autopsy of a new type of creature expands the range of available options, and these are really impressive. My favorite fixes are the adaptive marrow, which grants 2 health regeneration points per turn, and the spare heart, which ensures that the first hit of hit points to zero does not kill a squad member - he just starts to bleed out and can be stabilized. These two options mean that we have an almost immortal team, which, in addition, regenerates very quickly between subsequent missions. Together with the purchased tactics from the officer school "Zdrów jak fish", the convalescence time is reduced more than twice.

Of course, offensive modifications are also available. For example, depth perception improves accuracy and critical hit chance, and the adrenaline cloud provides an attack bonus for the entire squad after shooting an enemy. Other modifications allow, among others to jumping on roofs of buildings or sensing enemies before we are able to see them. In this aspect, the players have a lot of new products at their disposal.

Biomechanical modifications perform just as well. Through a series of medical procedures, amputations and replacing elements of the human body with cold steel, we adapt our subordinate to the use of the Mechanical Cyber Protection Exoskeleton, MEC for short. It is a huge combat machine, and its operator is a true master of life and death on the battlefield. The MEC comes in three types: guardian, guardian, and paladin, which differ in their special abilities. For example, the former is able to use a flamethrower that attacks with an area attack or a powerful kinetic blast.

Enemy Within introduces two new alien species and a human organization called EXALT to the game. The ranks of the UFOnauts were joined by the seeker and the mechtoid. The former remains invisible until the attack, which consists in strangling the victim who is unable to defend himself. Only her teammates are able to save her from death. At first, the seeker is quite a nuisance, but in the later stages of the game his effectiveness decreases drastically. This is mainly due to the bioelectric skin that detects it and the new object, the respiratory implant, which offers complete protection against suffocation. The more advanced armor also renders this attack ineffective.

Fortunately, the second alien, the mechtoid, is a real killing machine. He shows up more or less in the middle of the game and is one of the most dangerous opponents we will face. As befits a robot, he is characterized by high endurance, which can be additionally increased by psionic aid from other sectoids. Mechtoid has a plasma cannon and has a chance to fire twice per turn if not moving. Let's add that two hits from such a powerful weapon can easily kill a soldier wearing even the heaviest armor available in the game. Honestly, until the meeting with the mechtoid, it seemed to me that Enemy Within significantly lowered the difficulty of the game . Each subsequent nanotechnological modification provides a huge advantage on the battlefield and the first few hours of the game are basically a walk in the park. Fortunately, later it gets much more difficult, and the endgame itself is much more demanding than in Enemy Unknown .

The fight against the representatives of the transhumanist front is quite hard, mainly due to the fact that in most cases they have a three-to-one advantage over us. They also don't hesitate to use rocket and grenade launchers. I got the impression that they were much smarter than aliens who behave quite schematically even on the highest level of difficulty. This is, of course, a definite plus, as each subsequent covert operation presents a real tactical challenge. I also think I've seen similar character models somewhere before. Could it be in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified ?

Enemy Within also introduces some new and interesting missions to the game. During their performance, we learn about the fate of a girl named Annette, who is endowed with quite mysterious powers, we defend our base by taking part in a specific tower defense mini-game, and we bombard a fishing village dominated by chrysalides reproducing in the carcasses of a great whale. In this respect, the Enemy Within is very interesting, although I got the impression that there could be a bit more additional side missions. Fortunately , the number of combat maps has been increased, and epic moments, such as fighting on top of a burning skyscraper, remain in your memory for a long time .