Strategy games? I freaking love them. I love the classic style of RTS games for sure, build your base, build units, destroy everything ever. Always a good time. XCOM : EU is not RTS though, it is turn based and fans love it.
Instead of constructing a command center on each level, you build, create, customize, upgrade, and research from your XCOM headquarters. You’ll select which type of unit you’ll want to train/build. Then after that you’re able to name and customize the appearance of each individual unit. Which adds depth and a “connection,” if you will, to your units. Say you train Private Johnson and watch as he’s promoted through out the game, you’ll feel a, “No, not Johnson!” when you fail to keep him alive in a mission.
From your headquarters you’ll select which country to defend, then select which units you’ll use on that mission. Don’t get too carried away fighting for your home turf though. Every country is under attack and if too much time is spent in one area, the aliens gain ground in other countries. If the aliens gain too much ground, civil unrest will start to occur in the abandoned countries. I am unsure of what that means for the player, I could only speculate that it would affect resources, research, unit options, etc.
All this central hub stuff is fine and dandy, but let’s get to the combat and strategy. From what I’ve played so far, XCOM seems fairly simple on the surface, yet has deep strategy tactics. Moving your units throughout the battlefield is simple enough that the UI basically explains itself. After you have selected a unit, a green line shows where they will run and the “X” shows where they will take cover. Flanking is a tactic that XCOM will not let you overlook. For instance, flanking an enemy may increase your damage out on that enemy. Your enemies will be using it every time they move. XCOM’s movement UI is super intuitive and thankfully so, since maneuvering your squad is something you’ll need to master.
Commanding a unit to attack is just as simple. Select the unit, then select the enemy you wish to attack. A percentage shows up on the enemy before you attack. This shows your damage output on the enemy from that angle. Need more damage? Move your unit to a better site.
Aside from the simple tap-to-shoot attacks, each unit has special abilities. Ranging from grenades to grappling hooks and mind control, your combat options are varied and plentiful. Need a clear shot at the commander on the battlefield? Use your sniper’s grappling hook to quickly move on to a nearby rooftop. The enemy heavy unit slowing you down? Use mind control to quickly turn the tide.
Whether you select your unit to move through the battlefield, attack the enemy or take cover, all of it is shown in a quick in-game cut scene. At one point during the demo I was instructed to move my units into a building through a window. After I selected a unit to do so, I was treated with a behind the unit camera view as she ran up to the building and jumped through the window, shattering the glass as she did so. This happened every time I commanded my units to move more than a couple of feet.
My time with XCOM:EU was a solid experience. You have deep strategy elements that aren’t drowned under a convoluted UI. Information on the battle is displayed to you as needed and very easy to understand. The controls are simplified and felt natural. Most important detail to mention, I enjoyed myself.