Resurrecting a series rarely goes well; publishers and developers unfamiliar with the property spark anger from the masses. With XCOM, the fan base has wished for a successor to the series but not in the way that 2K Marin presented. The new XCOM shifts perspective to first-person, focusing the game into a hybrid take on action, adventure and RPG foundations. The 1950s set the tone, the world finding innocence again while the government examines the unexplained oddities dotting the news headlines. It is here William Carter emerges, an FBI agent set to study and solve the unexplained growth in the country.
The base of operations comes in multiple levels; the main hall patches through emergencies and listens for key unnatural reports. The main floor has a map of all active events; each act as an individual quest or mission for Carter to undertake. The lab is the next center of attention, showing where all the latest recovered artifacts go for testing. The lab and engineering center are toy chests; the information and weapons created from the two stations makes tackling the alien menace a breeze.
After some walking, the guide picks his mission. The next stop is a family terrorized by an unidentified threat; with partners and ammo selected, they head out. The scene plays with a sense of dread; the street is silent and there are unsettling sounds all around. The team is ready to hunt; they navigate the block for survivors and signs of alien foul play. While chasing a scream, they break into a sprint, finding a man drowned in black alien fluid while the creature escapes to the street. The thrill of the hunt and sense of unknown are what drive the new XCOM; while a shooter, the demonstration focused on the pursuit and documentation of each finding. The chase brought the team to a house in the suburb area; the husband stumbles from the door, lungs filled with fluid and collapsing in terror.
The team pushes forward; showing the new technology created from our investigations -- a lightning gun and flame grenade are the stars of the show. In a boom of fury, the lightning gun strikes the aliens down, cooking them in their own fluid. As partners rally to support, the alien invasion scales higher, overwhelming one of the men while he throws the grenades out to start a bonfire in the house. The drama is a central role in XCOM; throughout the demo I was always in a sense of alertness to what was going on.
While the game is a deviation from the franchise, it may have the power to stand alone as an alternate universe perspective. XCOM by 2K Marin is a shooter, but it thrives to surpass the stigma of being a BioShock clone.