This is the second time that XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the strategy game from developer Firaxis and publisher 2K Games, appears in Softpedia’s Game of the Year series. It has taken me a lot of time to choose between this game and the runner-up in the strategy category, Sins of a Solar Empire – Rebellion.
Finally, the element that separates the two was fear, which is plenty present in XCOM and only sometimes made an appearance in its erstwhile rival.
In XCOM: Enemy Unknown I’m always haunted by the prospect of loss and I am in fear that I will fail even if I make the right choices.
The game has a strategic layer where the player controls research, base building, soldier evolution and manufacturing, along with the attempts to shoot down enemy UFOs, and a tactical battle system, where a squad of up to six soldiers tries to kill aliens while salvaging tech and weapons.
At every step I am fearful for the life of my soldiers and the fate of all humanity, and the feeling makes all my moves and choices feel important, enhancing my overall enjoyment of XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Of course, the core mechanics of the Firaxis title are also close to perfection, inspired by and faithful to the original vision of the series, while also updated to appeal to modern players.
The presentation, from sound to graphics, is also very good for a strategy experience, especially when taking into account that Firaxis delivered the game not only on the PC, but also on the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360, with a control scheme that was easy to use.
Despite offering a clear path towards victory, XCOM: Enemy Unknown is also endlessly repayable because there’s never enough money and alien resources to go around and choices about base development and soldier equipment affect the entire experience going forward.