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iPad  header logo

XCOM: Enemy Unknown

For: iPad   Also on: iPhone

Phone home

Product: XCOM: Enemy Unknown | Developer: Firaxis | Publisher: 2K Games | Format: iPad | Genre: Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
XCOM: Enemy Unknown iPad, thumbnail 1
Even though you have all the time in the world to plan your next move, sci-fi tactics game XCOM: Enemy Unknown still manages to be a nail-bitingly tense experience.

That's because one wrong move can practically doom your entire mission to eradicate a cell of aliens, deactivate a time bomb, or escort a foreign diplomat to safety.

One silly misstep could see a soldier dashing into a room full of ape-like Muton chargers, or outflanked by floating robot torsos, or in the sightlines of a bulbous-brained telepathic alien who can turn your medic into a mindless zombie.

Keep watching the skies

XCOM is an utterly ruthless game, and has no empathy when you screw up. Even your much-loved corporal, who's been with you since mission three and is loaded up with special traits and is named after your dog, is completely disposable.

And in Enemy Unknown, dead means dead. You'll have to hire a new rookie unit from flippin' Canada and start from scratch.

But failure is always your fault, and more thoughtful tactics would have saved your arse. You could position a sniper on top of a camper van as a lookout. You could lay down suppressing fire, or do an attack that forces an enemy to exit cover.

And when the stakes are this high, it's a dizzying, heart-thumping thrill when you pull off that successful operation. When you storm a pizzeria in Birmingham, and systematically eradicate a bunch of Sectoids with superior strategy? Boy - there are few feelings like it on iOS.

I want to believe

Whether you win or lose, your efforts will have a knock-on effect when you get back to base.

Between missions you'll have to look after a sprawling underground ant farm of labs, factories, satellite uplinks, and military barracks.

Your role as commander is to hire and fire soldiers, manage your funds, engineer new gear, scramble fighter jets to take out UFOs, and instruct the science team to research any tech you found - or shot - in your last skirmish.

You'll also have to play diplomat, as you juggle the demands of every member state in the XCOM project. Ignore China's pleas for help, or deny Mexico its request for a pair of laser sniper rifles, and that country might exit the project, and take its monthly funding with it.

They came from outer space

It's a complicated mix of bureaucracy and budget-balancing, and while you're given some direction by the game's small cast of B movie characters, you're mostly left to fend for yourself.

It's a terrifying amount of responsibility, and it's actually more likely that wrong moves in the base will screw up your game than wrong moves on the battlefield.

But this freedom lets you tackle the game at your own pace and in your own style, and getting a glowing monthly report card from your shadowy council overseer is a reward in and of itself.

Remember: we will be watching

So the game's great. But most of you already knew that, having played it on PC, Xbox 360, or PlayStation 3. The real question is: how does this iOS port stack up?

Well, the graphics are a downgrade. Compare it directly to, say, the PS3 edition and you'll notice low-resolution textures, far fewer of those dynamic camera angles, and flat lighting.

But it mostly affects the rare up-close-and-personal shots and in XCOM's natural habitat - a towering, isometric view of a graveyard or downed UFO or truck depot - it's an outstandingly detailed and intricate game.

There are a few glitches (try and position a camera inside a building without a few swear words), and a long loading screen at the start. But, hey, it's not the nightmare crash-fest that was 2K China's other mobile port, Civilization Revolution.

Is anybody out there?

The touch commands can be a pain. Try zooming out and you'll more likely spin the viewpoint by 90 degrees or set your cursor to a higher elevation. And zoom - accomplished by a classic iOS pinch - is the only function without a button alternative.

It is, in conclusion, an imperfect but completely playable port. It also has handy iCloud save sync and not even a whiff of an in-app purchase.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a terrific game. It's a smart and sophisticated mix of scrappy on-the-ground skirmishes and monster-scale world diplomacy, with enough variety that it doesn't fall into tactical fatigue.

Look past a few nuisance elements of this iOS port and you've got one of this generation's top strategy games on your telephone. Technology. It's weird.
 
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Reviewer photo
Mark Brown | 19 June 2013
XCOM's battles are tense and rewarding, and are married to a clever base-building meta-game. All this, in a solid and eminently playable iOS port
 
Have Your Say
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Show: Latest | Oldest
Joined:
Jul 2013
Post count:
2
Jeremy Lim | 18:03 - 9 July 2013
great game! when is the update coming? excited for the multiplayer feature
Joined:
Nov 2012
Post count:
6
Michael Hamer | 16:17 - 30 June 2013
Yet another game mia on Android, incredibly frustrating.. devs/publishers need to get off their collective asses & stop trotting out the same tired old device fragmentation/piracy excuses..
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
243
@arosbooks | 13:08 - 27 June 2013
It's insane to say you would only pay $6.99 for this game. That attitude is exactly why iOS gamers don't have nice things.

At £25 this was an absolute bargain, so for a cut down version the price is completely fair. It's a FULL GAME people, with console level quality. I find it mindblowing this isn't the number one selling game on iOS simply to encourage other devs to stop thinking of iOS as a place to cash-in your half baked ideas with a friendly coat of art over the top.
Joined:
Oct 2012
Post count:
243
@arosbooks | 13:04 - 27 June 2013
One of the best console games of last year - I can't believe a full console game has actually been brought to iOS. If people buy it sufficient numbers you may start seeing real, quality games coming out instead of shallow throwaway rubbish.
Joined:
Nov 2012
Post count:
32
Ginko | 12:56 - 20 June 2013
Jus bought this game,its unreal,never had so much fun on my ipad,so glad i upgraded from google play to apple i store! Well gotta gt back to it,not enough time in the day! And I can play it in the garden! Chillin in the sun!;)
Joined:
Apr 2010
Post count:
184
jeffyg3 | 05:27 - 20 June 2013
Been playing XCOM on my iPad mini for an hour now. Really good. It feels like a very faithful port of the Xbox 360 game on a smaller screen I take in my pocket.

Hopefully it sells well....ore games like this definitely should be on the iPad/iPhone. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is selling very well on the AppStore, so there's definitely a market for these hardcore console games on mobile devices. This sells just as well, hopefully it will encourage more high profile games like this on iOS.
Joined:
Jul 2012
Post count:
506
Contest Chris | 19:04 - 19 June 2013
And btw, if the game doesn't sell well, there's no guarantee that multiplayer will come. Even if it does, there's still no guarantee.
Joined:
Jul 2012
Post count:
506
Contest Chris | 19:03 - 19 June 2013
@Karma, in an article with the devs (I can't remember where I read it), they said a significant portion of the non-gameplay related cutscenes have been cut and instead just replaced with text stories. 2 maps is still something mate. Graphics are still good but watered down no doubt.

Anyway, I agree that the 2GB limit is the limiting factor here, and the blame as such doesn't fall on 2K's shoulders. But...if they bring this to Android, the limit is double!! Perhaps the Android release will see the "full" version of the game coming out.
Joined:
Jul 2011
Post count:
67
Divisionbell | 18:39 - 19 June 2013
So it's really expensive and 2 gigs? I just saw it on Ps3 network for free for Plus subscribers. I'll go with that version.
Joined:
Nov 2012
Post count:
50
Karma Tiranitu | 18:15 - 19 June 2013
Wut I've been reading it's only 2 maps you won't miss
Cut scenes - all there
Graphics - for a phone/tablet - awesome.
Multiplayer - full multiplayer coming soon
Chris sure does try hard to make non-android games he wants sound lowly and with misinformation
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