Video Games Weekly: XCOM 2
Last week, I reviewed Paper Mario: Color Splash, which had some turn-based elements. This week, XCOM 2 is a full turn-based strategy game, and is probably one of the few remaining widely anticipated video games of 2016.
Platform: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Rated: T for blood, use of tobacco, and violence. Honestly, this rating surprised me because most shooter games get an M rating for violence, but I suppose this is because the game is not in first-person view (even though the end goal of killing enemies is the same…)
Single or Multiplayer: Both, but multiplayer is currently only online.
Background: XCOM is a long running series starting back in the 90s with UFO: Enemy Unknown. The series features the same science fiction storyline where Earth has a special elite unit that many nations pay for called XCOM (“extraterrestrial combat unit”) that fights against alien invaders. The game has a bit of a cult following, which is why the game is constantly getting remade and new titles. There are even two novels based on the series, as well as a board game, although I haven’t tried either one of them.
Storyline: XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM, taking place 20 years after the game’s storyline in XCOM Enemy Within. In this version, the humans did not win against aliens called ADVENT. Now XCOM is more like a rebellion movement sort of like Star Wars rather than a special elite taskforce. Players assume the role of Commander, who was rescued from an alien lab and woken from a comatose state. The Commander was actually implanted with a chip in their brain, which ADVENT uses to as a mind control mechanism to control their entire army. It’s now up to the Commander to discover the meaning behind the Avatar Project, defeat ADVENT enemies, upgrade the spaceship, and take back Earth.
Gameplay: This game is turn-based strategy, and much more in-depth compared to Paper Mario: Color Splash. What I mean by “turn-based” is players complete a series of moves in one turn, then their opponent does the same. For example, in the beginning of XCOM 2, the Commander can see four XCOM soldiers on a map. The commander gets to either move, shoot, or other special moves for all four soldiers at once, then it is the aliens’ turn. If this sounds confusing, I highly recommend watching the video below, which is the first mission.
Just like its predecessors, XCOM 2 is a well balanced turn-based strategy game. There are many options for players to choose from, such as difficulty level, types of soldiers, weapons, and soldier names. Personally, I like to rename all of my soldiers with the names of my friends in real life, because it’s funny to inform them when their character has died and it’s easier for me to keep track of each soldier. Many people choose to name their soldiers after famous people, which is also a great form of comedy relief given that this game is incredibly hard. Seriously, XCOM has a reputation for being one of the most difficult turn-based strategy video games out there. It took me three tries to beat the first level that you see in the above Youtube video!
Audience: This game is a much better choice for any strategy game junkies out there. The game is difficult, but not too difficult where you don’t want to attempt to play the game again. There are also other facets in the game like upgrading your spaceship, unlocking new characters, and recruiting new soldiers that makes the game not feel like a grindy turn-based game such as Civilization.
Verdict: I highly recommend giving this game to teens and adults who are looking for a long, plot heavy turn-based strategy game. Primary purchase for library circulating collections. I don’t recommend this game for Teen Game Night Programs because the multiplayer on console versions is only online.
Questions? Comments? Tweet them at me!
By: Alanna Graves
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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