XCOM: Enemy Unknown Game Review
This won't end well
The atmosphere of the game is dark and tense, exceptional for a game of this genre. Maps and sceneries are designed with great care, creating excellent battlegrounds. Almost everything may serve as cover; from machinery and barrels to cars and trees. Be wary though, vehicles explode after a turn if an enemy misses and shoots at the vehicle instead. Most other cover can be cleared by the enemy the same way; if their plasma rifle hits the cardboard box in front of your soldier, there goes the cover, leaving the soldier completely exposed to the next attack. Of course, cover is no use when you are flanking an enemy (or when the enemy flanks you), negating all defense bonuses. Unfortunately, there is no free fire option for the main weapons, meaning that you cannot order your soldiers to shoot wherever you would like them to, leaving you unable to directly target a vehicle, the tree covering an alien or anything else; you can only shoot at aliens directly and either hit or miss.
Character movement and object physics of the game are designed with great care. Characters jump through windows, kick down doors, jump off balconies, climb pipes and the list goes on. There will be many instances where an alien will be rolling down a flight of stairs dead or where your trooper will be flying off a second story after a rocket blast, although the most popular sight will most likely be your dead soldiers leaning against the wall after they have been perforated by flanking enemy fire. Almost everything can be destroyed, from vehicles to walls and buildings. The game engine could use some fine tuning when it comes to object damage though; it may be natural for a rocket to be tearing half a building facade down but not for an assault rifle to be tearing down walls and concrete roofs with a short burst. Also, accuracy calculations feel like they could use an improvement. Yes, we can accept that a sniper rifle cannot perform short range accurate shots because it may be too "unwieldy" but it is hilarious when a ten feet tall and wide as a door alien is standing right in front of your trooper and the accuracy rate drops to 20%.
Tactically, there are no "time units" anymore. Each soldier is granted up to two actions. You can move once within a few tiles and then shoot or use an object, dash to a position but not be able to shoot or use objects afterwards or shoot/perform an action but not move. You cannot shoot and then move, neither move, shoot and then move again. Certain actions, such as sniper rifles and rocket launchers, require having to be used at the beginning of the turn, without moving and or performing any other actions. This has also led to the removal of character stance options, meaning that you can no longer choose to crouch or prone; your soldier will assume an appropriate stance when behind cover automatically.
Yes, aliens can dodge bullets
Gameplay maps are not too large but they are very detailed. There are a good number of maps but not every map is unique, with the game recycling the maps of non-storyline missions. Most of the maps recycled will be those of the alien vessels, which is reasonable as there can only be one vessel design of each UFO kind, but it is a fact that at some point you will be visiting the same gas station in Russia and in Brazil. Oh, do not be frustrated if a nighttime map comes up during daytime; it hardly matters anyway.
Flanked and owned