Published on October 3rd, 2013 | by gareth0
The Bureau: XCom Declassified
Following a path to release that contained delays, revisions, and fan concerns, The Bureau: XCom Declassified has arrived.
As a fan of the first two games in the series which were icons of the 386 and 486 CPU age, I had been horrified about how badly the series had eroded with subsequent released which moved away from the turned based strategy play in favor of all things, flight simulations and run and gun shooters.
When I heard that 2K was taking over the franchise I was excited but to be honest the first look I had at the game during the 2012 E3 Expo had me wondering if I would ever see a return of the classic game series as the new version seemed to be more of a tactical team based game.
Many fans shared this concern and others and XCom: Enemy Unknown appeased many of the fans concerns by giving fans the updated turn based game that they had hoped for.
The Bureau is set in 1962 and is a nice mix of noire meets the X-Files as it explains the early days of the XCom organization in a solid prequel to the events of the subsequent games.
In 1962 Agent William Carter is tasked with delivering a case to his superiors. Ambushed en route and left for dead, Carter awakens to an alien assault and must battle for his life as he attempts to escape the carnage around him.
Armed with his pistol and in time a rifle, Carter meets up with other survivors and is able to escape and soon finds himself recruited in the new and secret organization known as XCom. The new organization is tasked with stopping the alien threat by any means necessary and despite Carter’s past difficulties, his superior Faulke, is convinced that he is the right man for the job.
Carter is able to command three man teams and prior to each mission selects which agents as well as their equipment will accompany him on his missions. Players will also be able to assign power ups along the way and assign them to various agents. The new abilities are vast and range from calling in support drones and air strikes to levitation, cloaking, and numerous other abilities and attacks based on alien technology.
As with prior XCom games players will have the option to select several side missions or they can focus on the main missions to propel the story, Interacting with other characters not only fills in the story but allows players to get a bigger picture thanks to the dialogue options which allows Carter to ask as many or as few questions as he wants.
In combat, Carter and his team work in a third person perspective and travel through towns, countryside, and other locales to meet the alien threat head on. In combat, players can enter a tactical mode to give move and combat commands to other members of their team as well as provide reviving and healing when needed.
Enemies can be tricky but with proper strategy and some well placed shots or grenades they can be taken down. There is a nice variety of enemies and they get harder as the game moves forward. Players can obtain alien weapons at a later state in the game and being able to use energy weapons is a nice touch as is the ability to wander your base in between missions.
The game does offer some branching storylines as actions taken or not taken will give players one of the games various endings.
I enjoyed the graphics and sound of the game as being able to take cover behind a vintage car and then unleash a barrage on a swarm of enemies from a 60s restaurant or radio station was great fun. I also liked seeing various nods to the classic XCom throughout.
While at times it did play as linear I was happy that there was not as much micro-management as I feared there would be and the game is a lot of fun to play. The enemies did seem to become a bit repetitive as the game went along as while the early missions had some challenge, some of the later ones can be frustratingly difficult.
The voice acting in the game is solid and the banter would be worthy for any classic science fiction or hardcore detective film or novel of the time.
I wish that the game offered a multiplay option as being able to co-op missions would have been great fun but for what it is, the game is a satisfying experience.
In the end, it will not be a classic along the lines of the original but it is a very worthy entry into the series and well worth your time to play especially if you’re a fan of the series.
3.5 stars out of 5.