Mikko was one of my best friends from Grade School. It was a fairly easy mission, I thought. So I chose to add him on my roster to rescue civilians during a simple retaliation mission from the Advent.
Mikko was a Specialist. He was a soldier with tech abilities, capable of healing his allies as well as provide protection in case of the alien’s attack.
I was ill-prepared for this mission. I brought him, a couple of rookie soldiers and only one experienced Sharpshooter for this fight. Because of a miscalculation of Mikko’s placement in the battlefield, he became the victim of a well placed plasma grenade.
Just like that I lost my childhood best friend.
I had to stop playing Xcom 2 for a bit because this loss, hit me hard. While yes, Mikko is only an avatar for the game I played, somehow I still have attachment to his character because he’s based on a real life person that I know in my life.
It is this simple reason why Firaxis’ strategic RPG right now is my favorite game of the generation.
Xcom 2 sticks with you long after you finish the game. It is a great turn based strategic RPG where you play the role of the Commander. You direct a squad of up to 6 soldiers per mission to complete several objectives to defeat and repel an alien invasion.
Being that this game does not have a truly structured story and characters, you are free to customize all of your soldiers. Change their names. Appearance. Personality. Their abilities. Even their backstories. You have free reign to tell a story arc independent of the main campaign. And that’s what kept me coming back to play this game.
As of writing I have gone through 4 playthroughs of Xcom 2, but only finished one campaign. The first 2 times, really got me distraught whenever I or my significant other died on one of the missions. I made up an intricate story for myself and my squad that’s fully independent of the campaign. I got so invested in each and everyone of my soldiers that merely getting them injured depressed me.
That’s the magic of this game, I guess. They let you own your characters to hone, to improve, to create their own backstory, then they will emotionally devastate you by killing the character you loved!
I hated that so much. This game is very difficult. You will never be able to move forward until you accept the fact that someone will always die when you play the game. Just like in Game of Thrones, do not get attached to any of the characters because they’ll all eventually die.
Visually, this game is gorgeous. Every stage, although procedurally generated is fully detailed. Forests are lush, the cities look believable, and all of the cut scenes are truly pretty to look at.
However, the gorgeous graphics maybe a deterrent to a smooth gameplay experience. I have played this game over 50 hours in all 4 playthroughs, and I always experienced a drop in framerate and some lag. There were even times the game froze for me. And I was playing on the PS4 Pro. It was much worse when I was playing on my original launch PS4.
And the load times are very long, even on the Pro. The time it loads from when you choose to start mission until the beginning takes at most over one minute.
Fortunately, those are my only gripes about the game. Everything else has been spectacular. My preference in video games tend to sway towards this genre, and I have a lot of these kinds of games in my library. But Xcom 2 is the only one that got me really invested until the end. Yes, even in Easy Mode the spike in difficulty increases exponentially, but not too punishing that it will make you want to rage quit.
While the mission structure can become a bit repetitive, there’s enough variety of enemies that will always keep you on the edge of your seat. This is not a game you can just play with your brain turned off. You always have to be on your feet. You have to strategize. Will this enemy be able to shoot at me even if I’m under cover? One of those citizens you’re tasked to save is definitely a Faceless, which one of them will it be? Should I run the risk of losing a loot by blowing up with a grenade that effing robot that critically wounded half my squad?
There’s not one decision that is fully black or white. This is what makes me think of this game even if I’m no longer playing it.
Yes, it gets depressing if you lose one of your soldiers, but eventually you will be OP’d enough that towards the endgame, you’re never going to worry about memorializing another Mikko again.
This is the reason why, even if 2017 flooded us gamers with truly amazing games, I still keep coming back to Xcom. Now I can’t wait to have enough budget to play it’s expansion: War of the Chosen!
9.5 / 10
Late to the party will be my ongoing series of reviews of old games or tv shows or anything pop culture related that I really loved (or hated). Hopefully, I’ll have the time to post more of these series moving forward.
(image grabbed from google)