XCOM: Enemy Unknown is not the game that I played the most this year and it’s not even the game that brought me the most joy in 2012, but I was unable to escape its shadow while looking for my Game of the Year winner.
This is the 2012 game that everyone should play.
The mix of impressive tactics, emergent storytelling and world depth have finally persuaded me to make the Firaxis experience my overall Game of the Year, ahead of other big launches like Halo 4 and Sins of a Solar Empire – Rebellion.
The best aspect of XCOM: Enemy Unknown is the way it mixes opportunity, reward and failure in pretty much all the choices and challenges that the game delivers.
Do I elect to run to cover and take a low probability shot at the enemy I spot just out of range or do I stay put and activate Overwatch, hoping that it will move towards me?
Do I build another Workshop to get a rebate on my projects and get more engineering options or do I get more satellites and interceptors up to protect the donor countries?
Do I switch to pistols for my entire team in order to bring down the health and then capture a particularly worthy foe or do I stick to my primary missions and simple kill him, preserving the safety of my team?
These are kind of situations that XCOM throws at the player and there are hundreds more linked to the story, all of them perfect occasions for gamers to create their own stories and decide how they shape the experience.
I have had three Ironman campaigns for the new Enemy Unknown ended by full squad wipes so far and I am still returning to the Firaxis game for more punishment and joy on a regular basis, never feeling like I am playing through an experience that I already know.
Take a look at the full Softpedia review for XCOM: Enemy Unknown.