GamingHands-on at Gamescom 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown from...

Hands-on at Gamescom 2012 with XCOM: Enemy Unknown from 2K Games


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A few weeks ago at Gamescom 2012 in Cologne, I got to play a few rounds of the forthcoming XCOM: Enemy Unknown game developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K Games, and it was good!

XCOMEU_gc_high res logo

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a reimagining of X-COM, the classic strategy game from 1993, and developed by the award-winning creators of the Civilization franchise. XCOM: Enemy Unknown incorporates various elements that transcend genres, and expands on the legacy with an entirely new vision, story, enemies and technologies that will appeal to fans of the series and newcomers alike.


Threatened by an unknown enemy, the Earth’s governments unite to form a secret paramilitary organization, known as XCOM, to combat this extraterrestrial attack. As the commander of XCOM, you control the global defence team in a battle against a terrifying alien invasion by creating a fully operational base, researching alien technologies, planning combat missions, and controlling soldier movement in battle.


Game Features

  • Worldwide Threat: Combat spans the globe as the XCOM team engages in over 70 unique missions, interacting and negotiating with governments around the world.
    Strategic Base: Recruit, customise and grow unique soldiers and manage your personnel. Detect and intercept the alien threat as you build and expand your XCOM headquarters.
  • Tactical Combat: Direct squads of soldiers in turn-based ground battles and deploy air units such as the Interceptor and Skyranger.
  • Strategy Evolved: XCOM: Enemy Unknown couples tactical turn-based gameplay with incredible action sequences and on-the-ground combat.
  • Serious Strategy, Serious Consequences: Full of rich, deep strategy, players must use all information available to them to make key decisions to save the world, because XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a game with serious consequences for failure. Just like the original X-COM, there is permadeath: once a soldier dies in battle, there’s no way to bring him back.
  • Multiplayer: For the first time in an XCOM game, players can pick a squad of soldiers, aliens, or a mix of both in a unique multiplayer game mode to go head-to-head against another player in an intense one-on-one, turn-based deathmatch.

Here is a trailer for XCOM: Enemy Unknown:

Hands-on at Gamescom

At Gamescom we were given access to both the single player and multiplayer games.

Single Player

With the single player game, what we got to do was play the game from the very beginning, so when the aliens first get to Earth and when XCOM is deployed. We then got to play several missions and make important and strategic decisions so that we got a feel for the actual game.

In each game you have to make decisions, for example, early on you need to decide whether to deploy your team to certain locations. Each location brings rewards and problems depending on what you choose, and you have to live with those decisions throughout the game.

I really enjoyed playing the single player, in fact, I was really surprised just how much I enjoyed it!


Multiplayer in XCOM: Enemy Unknown draws on the gameplay, tactics and strategy of the single player experience without making any direct ties to the narrative, offering a standalone opportunity for gamers to enjoy the XCOM universe. Players can mix and match both alien and soldier units to comprise their squad, outfitting soldiers with dozens of armours, weapons, items and class-based abilities for thousands of possible loadout combinations. These dream squads of up to six units are built using a point cap that can be scaled for players to fight in small skirmishes all the way up to epic battles. Matches can be modified by point limit or time limit per turn, and take place on one of five maps. Just like the single player experience, the fog of war will conceal your enemy’s units until you encounter them on the battlefield, creating the sense of tense anticipation that is the hallmark of the XCOM series.

I also enjoyed playing the multiplayer game, and to be honest it was almost a different game entirely, so I think there will be enough to keep everyone happy.

Final Thoughts

What can I say? Well, I really enjoyed playing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a lot more than I thought I would. That’s not to say I wasn’t expecting a good game, I just didn’t think I would enjoy it this much!

I really liked the turn-by-turn gameplay, the suspense as to whether your players would actually survive to the next turn, and also the decision process. This really is a game where you need to think, as well as fight!

The gameplay was really good, as were the graphics and sounds. I really felt immersed in the game and didn’t notice how quick the time actually went by!

Frankly I could have stayed there all day playing it, and I can’t wait to get my review copy so that I can carry on!

You don’t have to have played the original UFO Defence game to enjoy this, in fact, I have to be honest, it was a game that originally passed me by. Not because it didn’t look good, but because I just never got around to starting it. In fact, I actually have it in a box somewhere and may have to dig it out to keep me going until next month.

I have to say that this is certainly one of my “Games of the Show” and for anyone who enjoys strategy games, this is a must have and I highly recommend it.

Here are some more screenshots to keep you going:

XCOMEU_gc_BerserkSectoid XCOMEU_gc_CologneTerrorXCOMEU_gc_MP_CyberVsMuton_01 XCOMEU_gc_MP_Mind MergeXCOMEU_gc_MP_SecCommVsChrysUI XCOMEU_gc_MP_SuppressionXCOMEU_gc_MutonChryssalid

XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be available on the Xbox 360, PS 3 and PC on the 9th October in the US and 12th October in the UK and Europe. Click on the images below to pre-order the game now, and when you do you get an Elite Soldier Pack pre-order bonus.


What do you think about XCOM: Enemy Unknown? Is it something you would buy? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

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