XCOM: Enemy Unknown’s glorious Glam Cam

It's a strategy game Jim, but not as we know it.

Earlier this week I checked out the Mass Effect 3 trailer and spent a good while drooling at the awe inspiring music, epic imagery and the sweet, smooth sound of Lance Henriksen’s dulcet tones. Firaxis’ new XCOM: Enemy Unknown dev diary below has no Lance Henriksen at all but that didn’t stop it eliciting similar feelings of bliss in this cynical old XCOM fan. Everything shown of the gameplay in this dev diary makes my shrivelled turn-based-loving heart skip a beat and a wide smile spread across my face. It’s all so reassuring and beautiful I want to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I’m not, right? Please don’t tell me this is all a hallucination.

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For me the most jaw-dropping thing in this trailer is what Firaxis call “The Glam Cam.” Death animations in the XCOMs of yore were pretty basic things and were always the same no matter what the cause of death. Unfortunate squaddies always died clutching at their throats and falling face-first to the ground, whether felled by a plasma pistol blast or the impregnating claw of a Chrysalid in their guts. To make up for that we filled in the details with our imaginations, crafting heroic scenarios and projecting them onto the screen of our mind’s eye in glorious technicolour. Captain Lyudmila Scharov never simply got hit for X hitpoints worth of damage from three aliens and died of fatal wounds on her next turn. She stormed a UFO solo with a laser rifle taking out two filthy aliens with precision shots between their eyes as three plasma shots blew holes in her torso the size of tangerines.

The Glam Cam removes the need for such mental theatre by framing dramatic moments in the game as little cinematic set-pieces. Some examples shown off in the trailer include a rooftop sniper lining up his shot on an unaware Sectoid and a plucky British recruit firing a missile into a diner. It also kicks in when units on the aliens’ side do something awesome, like when a surviving angry Muton smashes through the front of said diner and hammers the unfortunate Brit squaddie into the pavement with both fists. Ouch. Besides adding to the immersion and making you feel a stronger attachment to your squad members, the Glam Cam looks like it’ll bring a great sense of dynamic action to a genre known for being a relatively sedate affair.

Luddites will find something to bitch and moan about no doubt, most probably that because the footage is from the Xbox version the game has been “dumbed down for consoles” or some other elitist horse-spunk. They obviously don’t remember the fine PSX port of Xcom: UFO Defence so they can wail and gnash their teeth all they like, in ignorance. Everything in this video excites me, and I say that as a true old school XCOM fan who owned the original game on PC floppy disc (remember those?). I also couldn’t be happier that console owners will be able to enjoy the unique, turn-based fun and terror we PC owners have relished for almost 20 years now.

With all this, as well as the spiffy-looking Xenonauts by indie studio Goldhawk Interactive, it’s shaping up to be a glorious year for XCOM fans and fans of turn-based strategy in general.

Source: PC Gamer


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