Sid Meier lends his counsel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown team

A pair of old masters have a strong influence on the team behind the newest incarnation of a turn-based strategy classic.

Alright, I confess. I’m one of those people who saw 2K’s first-person “reimagining” of the classic XCOM series and immediately thought “BETRAYAL!” I am not however one of those luddites who wants exactly the same game as the old one only with prettier graphics. I have the original XCom trilogy on Steam, along with the space combat one and that god-awful third-person shooter we don’t talk about, so I can play them anytime I want. If improvements can be made they should, and there were plenty of flaws with UFO: Enemy Unknown (known as XCOM: UFO Defence in the States). So when I heard Firaxis were developing XCom: Enemy Unknown, a true spiritual successor to the originals, I was both excited and concerned.

An interview with lead designer Jake Solomon in PC Gamer has allayed nearly all of my fears. According to Jake the environments are still very much destructible, your battle-hardened elite soldiers can still die permanently, and you can still build your own base from which to co-ordinate the war against the filthy alien. Some die-hard fans have objected to swapping the original’s system of Time Units for moving, shooting etc, with a more streamlined “Move and action” mechanic but I’m all for it myself. Basically you can move one hex and do something like shoot, reload, aim for a better chance to hit or some other miscellaneous action. As systems go it’s simpler and more convenient than remembering how many time units it takes to crouch (4), stand up again (8) or turn 45 degrees (1).

The most encouraging information to come out of this interview is that Sid Meier is indirectly involved in development. The original Civilisation was a big influence on the original UFO/XCOM’s so it’s very encouraging to know the venerable master of turn-based strategy has a hand in things, even if only in a limited advisory role. “I’m now to the point where I can basically hear his voice in my head, which is probably not healthy,” says Jake. “He tells me to hurt people.” Oh no Jake, that’s not unhealthy at all. Hurt is all part of the XCom experience. IT IS A GOOD PAIN!

The development team have also been in contact “on a very high level” with Julian Gollop, one of the co-creators of the old classic, although he has no direct involvement whatsoever. Seeing how much Jake seems to idolise him (and rightly so) it’s fair to assume Julian might yet have some part to play in all this, and the possibility of this pleases me greatly. I’m sure Julian will make his disapproval known if XCom: Enemy Unknown misses anything truly important. From the sounds of things so far XCom: Enemy Unknown is shaping up to be the worthiest official successor to its much-loved progenitor.

At this point I must also mention indie re-imagining Xenonauts, which looked pretty damn bloody fantastic when I saw it at last year’s Eurogamer Expo and is shaping up to be the worthiest UNofficial successor to UFO/XCOM’s distinguished name. Actually, you know what? If you’re a UFO/XCOM fan and you can afford it then you should damn well buy both. Perhaps even pick up UFO: Extraterrestrials 2 as well when it comes out. There’s more than enough room in Gaming Town for turn-based strategy games and the more, the merrier!

Source: PC Gamer


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Matt is the irresponsible degenerate behind and the sarcastic writer, editor, director, presenter and tea boy of Pixel Burn.