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