Thursday, 27 September 2012

XCOM Enemy Unknown - Demo Impression

I recently had a go of the XCOM enemy unknown demo on steam and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.  The size of the demo did lead me to believe it was going to be somewhat bigger at 5.8 gig, but sadly it was a brief albeit fun distraction. 

Here is a quick rundown of what I liked and disliked about the demo:


  • Animations - Smooth and suitably weighty, characters look great when in motion.  I especially like the way the camera moves to a more dynamic viewpoint when troops bolt between cover.
  • Cover - Virtually any object in the map can work as basic or full cover.  Light cover reduces some accuracy and damage of attacks, but only little.  Full cover grants a much higher bonus.
  • The base - The ant farm style on base design looks great and grants a fast and easy way to access your many different facilities.  Granted the base wasn't accessible during the demo, but the base is viewable and it looks pretty good.
  • The controls - The system uses a simple WASD and number shortcut system to navigate the map and access the abilities of your agents.  The camera can be freely manipulated to view many different angles during missions, which is key to utilising the benefits of each map.
  • Strategic options - The way you can choose to burst in guns blazing to blowing walls up to create entry points to the more quiet and military style of approach is great fun.  
  • The sound effects - Alien sound effects are campy and fun while the weapon effects are suitably meaty as you unleash a torrent of fire from your heavy weapons.


  • The download size - At 5.8 gig its a remarkably short and limited demo.  Although I liked playing it and look forward to the games release in early october, the demo could have been either smaller or offered more flexibility for its size.
  • The Length - Since it only covers the initial intro mission and subsequent tutorial excursion it was slightly disappointing to find it finished so soon.  Even the option to replay the second mission would have been a nice option to extend replay value.
  • The Voiceover - This is a minor gripe but also something that many players will remark upon.  If your squad is made up of Eyptian alien asskickers they will still speak with an american accent.  Budget and development obviously prevented more regional accents, but it would be nice to see it added at some point either as a mod or official patch.

Still the demo did what any demo is supposed to do and that is to get people talking and be enthused by the product.  I would recommend this to any avid strategy fan who missed the original back in 1994.  Although it may not be a faithful recreation in some parts, it still has that UFO spirit that made the original so memorable for fans all those years ago. 

Download the demo now on steam, PSN or XBLA and see what you think, although don't be surprised if you have to wait a little while to download the bloody thing.


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