XCOM: Enemy Unknown iOS Preview

Developer: Firaxis Games / Publisher: 2K Games / Platform: iOS / Release Date: Summer 2013 / ESRB: Mature [Blood and Gore, Strong Language, Violence]

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Anyone who doesn’t believe in the saying that gameplay trumps graphics hasn’t played XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Developer Firaxis would now like to emphasize that adage by taking XCOM mobile, specifically on iOS. By not making it the most visually-detailed game on home consoles, the studio managed to make it portable with very few edits.

Despite its convincing first impression (which included the same opening cutscene from last year’s game), I was still compelled to ask, “What’s the catch?” It turns out that the two significant omissions are the non-story maps and multiplayer, but these will be available for free at a later date. In other good news, everything else is pretty much the same. The entire story is there, including the tutorial and alien introduction in Berlin. The headquarters is completely intact, ready for R&D and alien salvage research. And it wouldn’t be XCOM: Enemy Unknown without customizing squads, right down to name personalization – a fan-favorite feature.

And in case you were wondering, the Slingshot DLC is not included.

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The isometric camera angles of XCOM’s battles just beg to be rotated and pinch-zoomed. Since the game is turn-based, there’s no rush in getting used to these finger strokes. It’s not the smoothest camera motions, but it’s hardly an issue in this promising port. In other UI notes, Firaxis already thought ahead with their icon-heavy user interface from XCOM’s home version. From grenade throws to the trusty Overwatch action, the touch-friendly UI makes XCOM a fitting match for iOS; that said, don’t rule out the game on other mobile platforms. And if Facebook integration is important to you, this port has that as well.

If XCOM: Enemy Unknown was one of those games you wanted to play but never came around to doing so, this iOS version might just be the only version you’ll need – especially if you’re frequently mobile and you’re not attached to achievements or trophies. And even if you did spend a 100 hours playing it on PC last year, we all know that a new opportunity to pull off a sniper kill with only 20% certainty is too tempting to pass up.

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  1. Apple must be trowing money at 2K Games to make this IOS only

    • Not necessarily. I don’t think that XCOM was nearly big enough a hit for Apple to be singling 2K out and paying them a lot to make it iOS-only. I have a feeling that it would have more to do with the fact that there are only a very small handful of iOS devices, whereas there are SO MANY Android devices. It’s probably much, much easier to assure a quality port by sticking with just the iOS.

      That said, I would love to get XCOM on my Android phone. I really hope it happens.

      • I wouldn’t say iOS is “a very small handful” of the mobile device market. It’s a very large portion in fact, and one whose devices all fit to a certain hardware set — a resolution most importantly. Android devices vary in size, shape, resolution, power and performance — which makes programming a game as deep and graphically stressful for multiple varying devices very challenging.

        Porting to iOS is not only beneficial due to its large consumer base, but also its far more scalable programming model.

        And since we’re on the note of iOS… Objective C sucks.

      • Sterling Best

        I beleive he ment that there are far less ‘models’ of iOS devises than android. Apple only makes the IPad and IPhone lines and each of those only has a half dozen models running on very similar architectures. Reletaviley easy to program for, making it a perfect testing sandbox for porting a full game into a mobile market. Make it for the system and it works on everything.

        Now although there are more than a large share of iOS devices, (something like 30% market share). The number of ‘MODELS’, brands, and companies making IOS devices are staggering (something like 40-60% market share). And making any sort of program for that especially one thats graphically intense is much harder to make and companies may stay away from it untill that test a mobile version in a less chaotic system like apples.

        On another note, I REALLY want to start playing this on my Nexus 7. Hopefully sales of IOs justify making the android version.

      • Sterling Best

        Sorry, “compaines making android device”*

      • The macfag in me wants to tear you a new one… but reasonably speaking, while android market has been growing exponentially, mostly due to the fact that there are thousands of cheap low specs phones and tablets, it’s pretty much what Landon said, iOS is a universal build, it’s easier to code and support it because the greater advantage of android is also it’s greater flaw,

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