Those Were the Days – Xcom: Enemy Unknown

Every now and then an event occurs that brings up fond memories of past gaming lives. It may be a HD re-release, a new movie or even a sequel to a beloved classic. It is at moments like these that the nostalgia strings are pulled and the joys of games gone by flood our conscious thought. So in the immortal words of Deckard Cain, stay a while and listen as our writers take you back to a favourite moment in their gaming past. Welcome to “Those Were the Days”. 

Those Were the Days – Xcom: Enemy Unknown

Usually in these articles I tend to look back at a game that captured my imagination as a youth but this time I am going to look at something more recent. Don’t let my use of the word recent fool you though as this particular game is steeped in classic PC gaming history. It came from a well loved strategy series that saw humanity taking on alien invaders in an attempt to prevent the annihilation of earth. The newest game in the series was released in 2012 and captured my imagination like no other turn based game had done before. That game is of course Xcom: Enemy Unknown and to this day is one of my most regularly played games.

Those Were the Days - Xcom: Enemy Unknown
Player2 writers make up my “human shield” units.

There was something that just instantly grabbed me about Xcom. I have played plenty of turn based games in the past but this one went beyond a game for me and into obsession territory. It was brutally difficult and at times soul crushing (missing a 90% sniper shot is one of the most depressing things in gaming) but I was utterly enthralled. Firaxis had taken this well loved franchise and brought it into the modern era with superb results.

Those Were the Days - Xcom: Enemy Unknown
Short movement cinematics added to the drama in an effective way.

The real stroke of genius as far as Xcom is concerned however was the ability to customise and name the soldiers I took into battle. Suddenly it wasn’t just Joe Schmo super soldier going into battle it was my brother or my wife or my child. This simple feature added a whole new connection to the soldiers in my unit. I was attached to my units and I when I lost one (for those that don’t know a dead unit in Xcom is gone for good) it hurt big time. Not only did I loose all the time and upgrades I had put into that particular unit but I was also losing a friend or family member.

Those Were the Days - Xcom: Enemy Unknown
I think my Dad is in trouble.

The sheer amount of hours I have put into this game since its release is mind boggling and the release of the excellent Enemy Within expansion only further fuelled my obsession. Every time I started a new game it was a new experience. Levels would change, strategies would alter and the difficulty would vary. But one thing remains the same every time I boot up the game and that is the finely tuned, highly addictive strategic combat that got me hooked in the first place. To say I am excited for Xcom 2 would be an understatement but despite being sure it will be a cracking game I find it hard to believe that it will replace the position close to my heart that Xcom: Enemy Within holds. After all just adding the number two to a name doesn’t mean the original soldier didn’t die.

Those Were the Days - Xcom: Enemy Unknown
There are plenty more Player2 writers where she came from.

Matt Hewson

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