XCOM: Chimera Squad (Review)

Source: Supporter Gift
Price: £16.99
Where To Get It: Steam

Ah, the game that has been colloquially called XCOP (and other, lewder names, thanks to our old friends, the serpents.) It’s been talked about for a little while now, and, to be fair, the XCOM rebooted series has definitely made for some interesting times (I really should do an XCOM 2 Going Back at some point, missed the boat on that one.)

It’s interesting to see how similar the basic formula is, and yet… It adds little touches I find interesting, and pretty fitting.

Not much like rappelling through a window to take down crime…

The general story is as follows: Congratulations, the war is over, and now, aliens and humans live in… Relative harmony in a place called City 31, one of the most diverse cities on the planet! And then it starts going to shit, when a hostage situation by whiny bigoted shitbags who otherwise wouldn’t have the power to cause a hostage situation ends up with the mayor rescued… And then immediately blown up by a plasma bomb. On the first official operation of Chimera Squad.

Well, shit.

There are three gangs suspected, a bunch of psionics who believe they see the true future of City 31, a set of Muton scavengers and weapons dealers who are collecting Elerium for… Reasons? And religious alien-human hybrids, who preach salvation for, er… Non X-COM supporters. Each of them has the potential to be the real bad, but I suspect the real answer is “None of them, something nastier’s in the woodshed.”

It can get a little chaotic, but this situation, at least, is under control.

Can’t really say, even though I’ve been playing it avidly, it has only been a day or two since release.

What I can say is, apart from cutscenes being motion comics rather than fully rendered scenes, for the most part, aesthetically, it’ll be something you easily recognise. Right down to fucking tiny back buttons. Tip: Right mouse is “Back one step in a menu”, as well as move. Still annoying. In any case, the aesthetic of the models remains largely the same, except… Ohhhh yeah, since it’s a diverse city, and this is a new team called Chimera Squad… There are aliens on your squad. Pretty friendly ones, all told. Except Torque, the snake lady, who is a snarky, irritable woman. In place of classes, there are the field agents, each with their own unique skill tree, specialties, and lines on recruitment and during story time. It definitely helps give that more down to earth, personal feel.

Proud XCOPs. Early days yet, but they’re good folks. Well, okay, at least some of them are assholes. But they’re the Good Guys.

The other thing that gives that down to earth, personal feel, as well as a higher degree of risk management, is that no, unless you have enough agents to back you up, or androids… You are all alone, and every bleedout hurts. Every death is to be avoided at all costs. And, of course, you are cops. Rescuing civilians gets you small bonuses. Taking in perps alive gets you intel, one of the three valuable resources, and is worth more score-wise than dead. Good luck with that, although it can be do-able on even the big-ass Legionnaires, Mutons who still have their old power armour. Each mission is spread into a series of breaches, and, with each breach, things get hotter.

So, it’s an interesting riff on the established formula, there’s some good, tense moments, difficulty adjustments, the usual fun stuff, and, thank fuck, a restart mission and a restart encounter button. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, and I think XCOM fans and turn based strategy fans will too.

The Mad Welshman loves a good action movie sequence. Maybe, one day, we’ll have turn-based games that turn your mission replay into one. Ah heck, the game’s good enough without.

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