Hands-on with The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Editor: Darryl Linington

In my personal opinion, XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a superb title. Not only did it offer up hours of strategic action, but it also met most of my expectations as a remake of the once popular UFO: Enemy Unknown. Not even a year later the latest title in the franchise, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, is scheduled for release on the 23rd of August, 2013.

The Bureau Xcom Declassified

Here’s how the story goes: The year is 1962 and the Cold War has the nation gripped by fear. However, apart from communism, a new enemy is now threatening the human race. Known only to a few individuals, a top-secret government unit called The Bureau begins investigating and concealing a series of mysterious attacks by an otherworldly enemy.

Being set in the 60’s, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified offers players a much needed origin story in the larger scheme of the franchise. I will admit, every time I hear the word prequel I tend to think of a rather large cow named Money Bags; however, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has opted to kick out the RTS style of play and introduces players to an entirely different third-person-shooter experience.

Playing as special agent William Carter, a former war hero and FBI agent recruited to be the newest member of The Bureau, players will have to plan their assault on the various alien creatures carefully. Not only will you be controlling Carter, but you will also be controlling your team’s actions. This can be done via the game’s Battle Focus mode, which ultimately slows down time and allows the player to queue various attack commands, as well as reposition your squad mates. What makes the Battle Focus mode so intense is the fact that you are still vulnerable to attack, which means you can’t exactly take your time picking and issuing commands as your team may be wiped out quicker than you think.

Permadeath makes a return in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which means no reviving those fallen team mates. Truth be told, permadeath is harsh, although losing a character in a video game is something that gamers tend to take for granted these days. Permadeath allows players to value each and every squad member as well as show the consequences of taking a run-and-gun approach. This is what sets The Bureau: XCOM Declassified apart from the generic third-person video games on the shelves nowadays.

Apart from death and combat, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified offers a little more insight into the characters. Not only can you read their personal files, but you can also engage in some rather deep and meaningful conversations with NPCs during the course of the game. Additionally, the game will feature side-missions, research and development of news weapons, and a story that is affected by choice and consequence.

While I only had the opportunity to spend an hour or so with the preview code, I noticed a rather frustrating technical issue. At times your team mates tend to just stand there waiting for orders, which ultimately leaves them vulnerable and open to all kinds of attacks by the enemy. Granted, this was only preview code, but I do hope that this issue will be ironed out of the final release.

Overall, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has me intrigued and excited – especially with its 1960’s vibe. Let’s just hope the full retail release does not bomb out, as that would be massively disappointing. Keep an eye out for our full review, which should be up closer towards the release date of this title – the 23rd of August, 2013.

Check out the latest trailer for this title below.

Agent Ennis Cole (Dominic Monaghan, star of Lord of the Rings and Lost) is faced with a choice in the aftermath from the first Pima Incident. Tweet #GrabTheGun or #GrabTheBottle by 24/7/13 to decide his fate.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was previewed on the Xbox 360 compliments of Megarom Games and 2K Games.

The Overlord, the master, the one who tries to get things done… I think they call it the “Editor-in-Chief”… I may even be cooler than Master Chief, but that remains to be questioned.

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