XCom: Enemy Within
by Diego Beltrami
XCOM Enemy Uknown, despite what most hardcore fans might say, ended up being a great rendition of the original for modern sensibilities. Although it abandoned some of the simulation aspect of the old X-Com for a more rigid approach to mechanics, at its core it retained the feeling of playing an anti alien organization in the middle of a not so secret invasion.
Enemy Within adds a lot of new mechanics and starts to deviate its concept from the original game showing the first signs of becoming its own thing. Fortunately this involves big stompy mechs.
This isn’t going to be a long entry. There is not much to say that haven’t been said before. Enemy Within keeps everything that was great from the base game and only adds more stuff to it. It gives the player more options and more things to do. Which is always nice. In the two main inclusions we can find the Meld mechanics, which let you modify your soldiers to become mech troopers, a completely new soldier class that punches hard; and to genetically modify your other classes giving them an extra edge. The other big thing is Exalt, a shadowy organization that thwarts your progress and deploys its own modified humans against you. Sadly they don’t see much development behind their motives and activities. These are complimented with some new missions and levels. It’s meaty, that can’t be denied but its main focus is clearly in the tactical combat side of the game. The strategic layer is still the least developed part.
Which is a shame as it certainly needs an overhaul. More ways to deal with panic as the absolute dependency on satellites is quite troublesome at the start of the game and total overkiller during the middle. Also, following the good tradition of the original X-Com, air combat is terrible. Hopefully this will be the part that Firaxis will look after in the next expansion.
Beside those mayor additions there is a small detail that certainly adds a lot of personality to the game: the ability to select different languages for soldiers. Being able to have German, Russian or Spanish soldiers talking in their native language adds a lot of personality to the game and helps make every soldier even more unique. I wish Firaxis will let player create their own packs in the future so we can finally have the community complete the nation rooster with accents and everything. It makes me wish more than ever for modding tools and opening at least soldier customization to the community.
Also I must say that I love that this feels like a good ol’ fashioned expansion pack and not just a few DLC stamped add-ons. It’s meaty enough and it adds a lot of options to the game to significantly improve it. It certainly becomes a better game and less mechanical than the base game, that could end up being a bit repetitive once you had the upper hand and start to get into a certain rhythm during missions.
It is certainly great and it gives me great hope for the future of the game if Firaxis keeps improving and adding to it. Maybe in the not so distant future we might have a real modern equivalent to the idea all of us have of the original X-Com.