I had to buy a new gaming laptop for this review. No, I really did. My trusty old Macbook Pro that is still going strong almost six years after buying it has finally failed me and literally wouldn't run the game as it didn't meet the minimum specifications. *sob* SO I got a shiny new gaming laptop with Windows 10. I've wanted one for awhile really as there are still so many games that don't come out on Mac, so I guess this is a blessing.
Now, I don't pretend to know the first things about computers. In fact I know barely anything about their inner workings anymore, despite being able to use them for the majority of my life. I used to laugh at my Mum as she typed using one finger and struggled to open anything other than Solitaire. Now, I feel like that's how I look to my kids, albeit I'm a slightly faster typist. (Thanks, Uni!). SO yeah, I can't really go into the stats on my new laptop but I'll put a link to it at the bottom of this review. The only reason I am doing this is because I've read that a lot of people struggled to run XCOM2 on their rigs and I really haven't encountered any problems of the sort. The game has run damn near perfectly for me, with just a little lag sometimes when the battlefield view animations were running.
WhenI first loaded up the game I was really blown away by how it looks. I'd heard that a lot of people were disappointed with XCOM 2 graphically but I really think it's a beautiful looking game. I dunno maybe it's because I'm not really much of a PC gamer - I've always been primarily a console gamer, finding them much more accessible to someone as un-techy as me - and I know that some PC games now can look pretty much picture perfect. But there's something about XCOM 2 that is deep in the uncanny valley for me. I thought that the graphics - especially the facial animations and in particular the eyes - were really quite realistic.
Anyway, XCOM 2 sees you pick up 20 years after the events of XCOM - Enemy Unknown. Humanity lost the battle and the XCOM forces are now underground resistance fighters. I think this was an awesome decision on the developers part, and really served to add to the drama of the situation. I feel like it was a perfect fit for the XCOM franchise and it made the time constraints within missions make real sense. These time constraints are a big bone of contention for many, but I found them really refreshing. They really helped me mix up my strategies and approach things from angles I hadn't considered before. There's a multiplayer mode that pits you against other people. This is a mode I haven't had the confidence to try out for any real amount of time as of yet, but when I do I'll come back in and edit this review. Another reason I haven;t played much of the multiplayer is because the story in XCOM 2 is completely gripping. I'd put the game on 'for an hour' and end up finally turning it off four hours later, shattered and bleary eyed but having to admit defeat. Unfortunately I cannot run on less than four hours sleep, trust me I've tried (especially during this review).
XCOM is infamous for its difficulty level and lack of giving a shit about whether you care for your troops or not and you should definitely prepare to be responsible for a hell of a lot of death - and I don't mean of the aliens. Your troops will die over and over again, usually just after you've used a character just enough to become attached. In the process of writing this review I've learnt a new term; 'save scumming' which apparently is the act of reloading a save when the odds haven't been in your favour and you need to undo your mistakes. So at this point I have to hold up my hand and admit to save scumming BUT hear me out! I reloaded twice, because for some reason when I clicked to attack it didn't load the next bit where you choose who to attack and I attacked (and killed) one of my main squad members who was being mind-controlled. This happened to me twice and remain the only times I have reloaded my game. Don't get me wrong watching my beloved troops die is pretty heart-breaking, but it's part and parcel of the game so I'm at peace with it, kind of. But I am not willing to accept the death of my troops when they were killed because of a control not working. So shoot me.
Gameplay is split between the turn-based tactical battles and building your base, which is kinda like Fallout Shelter - you use your resources to build rooms that are essential in your fight against the aliens. The latter obviously takes up less time than the actual bottles do, but managing your resources isn't that much less stressful than trying to get all of your troops home. You will constantly be struggling for the resources to build what you need and stressing out about the time it takes for things to complete. I found that I always had less engineers than I wanted too. But maybe I'm just a much more stress-y person - my family will attest to that.
The battles in this game are on another level. You constantly have to adjust what you thought was your battle plan to try and get out alive - calling in an emergency evac to save your prized troop might be the best thing that you can do, but it will also leave you with one less troop on the field. I did this with my sniper I'd had from the beginning only for the majority of the rest of my team to die. Jeez was my sniper pissed - she was out of action for what felt like years and I was left questioning whether I should have just let her die, especially when she died a few missions after she had made her triumphant return.
I think this is what I like the most about XCOM 2 - the story is amazing, don't get me wrong - but everyones game will be slightly different. Each persons game is made up of the little stories they've made on the battlefield and in their memorial room. Two people could be discussing the same battle but there are infinite different possibilities within that each could have encountered. You might have had a 95% chance to hit one of the enemy forces and missed, whilst the other had a 32% chance and got a critical hit. It's unfair, demanding and brutal but it's a bloody brilliant game that I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with. Buy it people!
10/10 BUY IT!
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of the review.