XCOM E3 Preview

The XCOM you know from the 90’s is coming back – but this time as a first-person shooter. Your XCOM was about fear, not knowing what was coming, and deep strategy. This new, 2K Marin-developed XCOM is that, but much more.

Walk into the kitchen of a 1950s home. That’s particularly what I did when I was being shown the game. You’re William Carter, an Agent in the XCOM special forces; you’re actually the boss. The role of XCOM is to look for hints of paranormal activity involving aliens and otherworldly creatures. Their base is disguised as an airplane hanger. One mission at a time, you’re main goal is basically to – as corny as it sounds – save the world from these guys.

At the start of the demo, we see Agent Carter walk up the stairs inside the hanger and into the missions room. While he walks past his workers, we hear them having somewhat humorous conversations, properly complimenting the game’s cartoon-like visuals. In the missions room, a map of the United States can be seen, covered with missions currently available to Carter. There are a number of missions available in which Carter may choose from, however, those same missions may not be there any longer after Carter completes one of his choosing. So you’ll need to choose carefully what you decide to do and what you do not. Not all missions will benefit XCOM that much, which weighs in on mission selection. The mission Carter picks in the demo we were shown wasn’t exactly beneficial to the organization, as it was only a cry for help from a woman getting attacked by one of these aliens.

Before we move onto the mission, I’d like to talk about the weapons guy, Mal. Mal creates new weapons for Carter to try out in the field. We saw two weapons crafted by Mal in the demo. The first was a grenade-like glass ball full of this blob substance. You throw it, the glass breaks, the blob goo spills and wherever the goo is sets on fire. The second was a lightning gun. You can figure out what that one does on your own. It’s not too hard (hint: lightning). Mal creates these weapons by studying ‘The Artifact’, the alien object that started XCOM in the first place.

Out in the field, things can happen that will stray the player away from the main mission. We saw that in the demo as Carter was approaching the house that sent forward the distress call. On his way up, we heard a scream. Checking out the source of that scream, Carter found dead people in the neighborhood’s backyards and a goo-like substance in its leaving. Carter is actually able to take pictures of things that may be considered noteworthy to XCOM. This includes dead people, things like the goo substance, etc.

During the mission, Carter basically went into the house and started getting attacked by this goo-like alien (goo was the favorite of the demo, it seems). Using the alien weaponry crafted by Mal, Carter was able to kick his ass. Unfortunately, he lost one of his agents in the fight. That’s right, you can lose them. Dead. Gone. Up there.

After they got out of the house, this thing came to life and started attacking. Carter had to make his way back to the car. When it was attacking, I noticed as it missed Carter, it actually exploded bits of the concrete on the street. That ended the demo.

XCOM is the ideal 1950s split in half by aliens and a combo of strategy and missions in a first-person shooter-based game. It’s out in 2011 for Xbox 360 and PC. So far, it already looks great. Check out new screenshots at the gallery.

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