After the ground-breaking release of the original reboot in 2013, the XCOM franchise got its direct sequel in February of this year as a PC timed exclusive. The game has finally been released on current-gen consoles, but how does it perform? Does it turn aliens into grey mush, or does it prep itself for probing? Well, strap on your kevlar body armor because we are about ready to kick some alien hineys.
Set directly after the events of the 2013 game, XCOM 2 takes place 2 decades in the future at a time when humanity would have lost to the aliens. Enslaved and oppressed under a fascist rule aiming to create alien/human hybrids, a resistance establishes itself to fight back. This is where you come in. As commander, your mission will primarily be to lead the resistance, and kick as much alien ass as possible in the process.
For the uninitiated, XCOM 2 is a turn-based tactical strategy game. You take control of four squad members, each with their own set of skills, on your mission to rid your people of the alien threat. When you are not in the field subduing enemies, you are in your base upgrading your labs and tech in order to research new abilities.
Death is permanent in this game, and the only way you can fill the void left behind is by recruiting rookies, or lesser soldiers, in their stead. This is more tasking than it sounds as your remaining troops’ survival may depend on the new comer.
XCOM 2 is already a well know game on the PC, but how does it fair on consoles? Well, not too shabbily, but it was already a high-demanding game on PC that required a hefty setup and had its nasty fair share of issues regarding bugs and performance. The port is generally a decent one with sharp textures and smooth animations, sadly as good as it is, it is nowhere near as good as it looks on a high-end PC with maxed out options.
Problems soon start sinking in with atrocious loading times, and the expected lack of V-sync that will result in choppy sequences and screen-tearing especially during fast-paced segments. These problems are not unbearable, but they are enough to make you groan with disdain. It should be noted that the drop in frame rates, especially in the take off and drop off portions of the game, slow down the performance to a crawling pace. Luckily this is just an intermission phase with no game play but it still manages to cause enough worries regarding the port’s quality.
Last but not least are the controls. First of all, as a tactical, turn-based game, you have a ton of icons, a ton of options, and so many things to do and look out for. Replacing the mouse and keyboard setup with a controller could have been a nightmare, but thankfully it feels almost natural despite the initial shock of having to use a joypad for such a game. Movement is handled with the analogs, shooting is assigned to the trigger buttons, and the shoulder buttons allow you to cycle through your different options. It is still very much a mouse and keyboard game, but Firaxis deserve praise for successfully translating the game to consoles.
This port has enough strong points to overshadow the shortcomings, however. It is a very stable build with almost no crashes or any weird glitches that were infamous with the PC version.
Should you get this game? The answer is easy and dependent on if you’ve already played it on PC. If do, then there is no point in getting this version since it offers nothing new. If, however, you are new player and appreciate good tactical games, then you should without a shadow of a doubt pick this one up. It is almost as good as the PC version, offers better stability and you don’t need a fancy rig to play it. XCOM 2 is hard, smart, tactical, relentless and most of all, it is really addicting. Most of the times you will find yourself replaying the same mission over and over just to try to end the level as perfectly as possible with no soldier left behind, because this is the way Xcom gamers roll: one for all, and all for one.