Firaxis recently released the expansion for the rather cool XCOM Enemy Unknown which is available now as DLC for PC and a standalone retail disc for consoles. Melding elements from the original game with new additions, is the expansion reason enough to drop £20 and retread familiar ground once more. Take a look at our XCOM Enemy Within video review for the full low-down.
XCOM Enemy Within review:
Today we’re taking a look at 2K Games’ DLC Expansion XCOM Enemy Within which is available now on consoles and PC. Console gamers can buy the game at retail as a standalone disc, and PC gamers can add the extra to the existing XCOM Enemy Unknown game.
From the offset, there are some notable options that players can mess around with before jumping into the turn based battling. These modifiers can change the way the game plays and add some deeper tactical elements to proceedings. Everything in the core game is remains the same, including the opening tutorial missions – which for XCOM vets can be toggled off. Once the opening pleasantries are out of the way, several hours into the game the extra elements make themselves known. There are more customization options for your squadmates which adds a bit more variety to the battlefield, but also a number of extra ways to upgrade your team. The most notable of these are cybernetic mods which improve the basic functionality of the unit. However, to upgrade, players must collect an all new resource called Meld from the battlefield, which becomes an added risk and reward feature for most skirmishes. Players have to reach the Meld in a set number of turns otherwise the the resource is lost; when coupled with aggressive enemies, and some new opponents as well, it becomes a danger to try and secure the Meld in the face of alien opposition. That said, the added benefits of the mods greatly improve the units and in some cases are game changing.
Other upgrade additions include the option to engineer MECs which convert your units into specialized mechanized powerhouses. The trade off is a loss of abilities, but with such advantageous power versus the regular enemies, makes them extremely formidable. It’s also welcome to have more variety with your basic units which largely remain unchanged bar the extra customization options for the armor.
Enemy Within also adds a new threat to the XCOM base with a faction of humans who are out to disrupt the operations of the united forces. This group is called EXALT and rather than have basic missions versus humans, there’s a more covert underlying story involved where players have to gather intel before locating the EXALT base before putting an end to their disruptive activities. The EXALT presence is much needed for this expansion and offers its own mission types which extends the variety of the game.
Graphically, there’s no change here compared to the original, although that said, the game does look rather good with its animated look, albeit a little basic in terms of finer details. There are some decent lighting effects, and a handy camera that can be panned so players get a good view of the surroundings during encounters.
The audio is also solid, with good performances from the voice cast, and some tense music where it counts during missions.
In terms of longevity, most importantly, is how much value there is on offer here especially you’ve already rinsed out XCOM Enemy Unknown. As a standalone game for consoles, then this is most certainly the definitive package, with all the extras making for quite the game with over 30 hours or more worth of content. Throw in the multiplayer as well, and there’s a lot to mess around with, especially if some of the extra options are used. If you’ve not played the original and are faced with this game, then it would be a great purchase if there ever was one. For those coming from the PC, there’s perhaps less to be excited for as the extra enemies, levels and gameplay elements don’t change the core gameplay too much and so feels like replaying the same game with added mods.
To conclude. On a basic level, XCOM Enemy Within is a pretty neat expansion of the core game, with some good additions and tweaks to the gameplay. Newcomers are likely to see the most benefit here as everything will be fresh. However, for those who have already played the original, there’s less enticement to jump in again as the extras simply feel like more missions to undertake and some new toys to try out unless you’re a huge fan of going toe to toe with a slow opponent in multiplayer. That said, if the plunge is taken, there can be no denying that there’s great value here as the hours mount up battling the alien invaders.
Score 8.5/10 – Robert Cram