The Last Oldie But Goldie
Now many of you might wonder, why is XCOM2 and its expansion XCOM2: War Of The Chosen in this list? They are not that old? Are they? Well, if I am perfectly honest, yes and no.
Are they old? Yes. Are they "Oldies But Goldies" old? No.
Why are we talking about XCOM 2 then? Because this is the final article of this series, and I will be damned if I do not write about our lord and savior XCOM 2.
XCOM2 and its expansion XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen are the sequel to the critically and commercially successful games made by Firaxis. Considering how we all got brutally murdered in the initial launch of the first games, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM: Enemy Within, Firaxis decided that, for the sequel we will follow the timeline that would have us fail the defense, and XCOM goes from being our first and last line of defense, to being Freedom Fighters, waging a guerrilla style uprising against our alien overlords.
Firaxis also managed to create God, or the digital Artificial Intelligence version of Nostradamus.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it is the motto and here it makes perfect sense.
Yet they somehow managed to fix it. Staying true to its top down, turn based strategy mechanics from the first game, the gameplay is more or less the same. What little changes they added were in terms of flavor and class abilities, as well as the nature of the enemy, some new units and off course some great and expanded use of the psi abilities.
What they "fixed" however, aside from a few bugs and lacks in AI in the first, is the entire feel of the game. Adding a "concealment" mechanic, meaning your crew is usually very hard to spot at first, allowing you to set up ambushes before you proceed to
blow up the place I mean, liberate the place from the aliens. Add to that, a reinforcement mechanic most levels have, as well as timed missions, extraction missions and sabotage missions, once more Firaxis manages to capture the gameplay of a guerrilla liberation campaign -perfectly-.
Add to that a more robust soldier customization, soldier bonds (for the DLC), new classes and mod support, you have a game that is simply put: perfect.
76% Chance to hit means he has 15% chance of actually shooting the alien.
*Peace has been brought to this area!*
Sound and Music
There are no words I can put into this article that will do this section justice, so I will try to keep it simple.
Game sound/Sound Effects wise, the game once more delivers perfectly. Great voice acting, weapons and explosions carrying impact and off course, the signature sound of mechs, once more do their best to cause you dread.
What still manages to blow my mind, is the perfect use of Music. With no music, or just a simple monotonous, nerve wracking track playing when you are concealed, only to be replaced by the fast paced action music of conflict, XCOM 2 uses music to play with your emotions like a virtuoso.
As far as soundtracks go, this series still manages to maintain its status as having the "Best Pre-Mission Music In The History Of Video Games Ever", with every new piece out-doing the previous one. The only drawback I have to put on here, is that sometimes the squad loadout music is so epic, it actually manages to be more epic than mini boss, or straight up, boss fight music.
That said, with the stressful situations you will be thrown in due to the gameplay, the clever use of music and sound to evoke, amplify and express emotion, and off course, the simple but robust story it offers, the sound department manages to be placed on Hollywood level of perfection.
Graphics and Visuals
Using the Unreal Engine, XCOM never was a bad looking game. With Firaxis appearing to emphasizing on stylizing over raw graphical power, the game still looks amazing despite its growing age. With animations that are on the spot, great use of lighting and smoother ragdolls, this game is a joy to view.
With its expanded visuals came more in depth customization for your loyal soldiers, and with mod support, the things you can do with this game visually is simply breathtaking.
The only thing I need to say when it comes to visuals is that I have managed to create a game that has weapons and armor from the Mass Effect and the Halo universe, employ mechs, face off against tanks, and even added aliens to the roster. Yes. The game can look -that- amazing.
"Payback for them snake enemies"
All Praise Our Digital Jesus
Finally, I could not mention XCOM without mentioning its Nostradamus prophecy powers, that seem to have been only amplified from the previous games. What do I mean by that? Well, simply put, with the expansion DLC you can meet three new factions (that for SURE capture the essence of some of your friends) and with the ability to create a roster of pre-made soldiers that will appear in your playthrough the game once more manages to prove that it not only knows your friends better than you do. It also knows how things would go down should XCOM become reality.
How I know this you might ask? Well simply put, do you not find it weird that my more action loving friends -always- make their way into the resistance, while my more real-life-cowardly friends have yet to appear?
Or do you think it is mere coincidence, that everytime I name a soldier after me, he always, -ALWAYS-, ends up soaking enough bullets my medical team does not know what to do with them? -EVEN IF- that soldier prior to his rename was an expert in avoiding said shots before?
Or perhaps the fact that Bill and Maria, -always- end up as "support" classes with robots and hacking powers?
Face it friends. Skynet is real, and his name is XCOM. Bow and pray for his mechanical mercy.