He sailed to the east and he sailed to the west (XCOM: Enemy Unknown/Within, 2012-2013; Shadowrun Returns, 2013; Expeditions: Conquistador, 2013)

As I mentioned The Bureau: XCOM Declassified the other day, it’s only natural to mention XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within, the later being an extension for the other.

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That’s a reboot from an old series of games made by MicroProse (yeah, Sid Meiers’s company at the time) now being developed by Firaxis Games (current Sid Meiers’s company) aside from the Civ series. Considering this, it’s no surprise that Enemy Unknown/Within are solid and well thought turn-based tactical games. To be perfectly clear, here you don’t win a fight because you were faster to react and to aim but because you placed on the map your guys cleverly, according to their characterists (some move faster, some have heavy firepower, etc).

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It can be compared to chess, except that you don’t start on a par with your opponent, since each have his own set of units and since the map is not a flat square board but some sort of destructible real life area. Loosing a fight usually means failure to anticipate the enemy moves. With no experience with the original old XCOM series, I found Enemy Unknown/Within to provide hours of interesting gameplay with a decent storyline (alien invasion based: not original but thorought nonetheless). The extension Enemy Within, adding numerous content (new resource, new enemy, new units) is worth having.

The only disappointment with Enemy Unknown/Within is the fact that difficulty is decreasing over time. Even worse with some series of scripted mission that can come late in the game only with very very basic enemy units.

Aside from this know well-established game, he comes Shadowrun Returns:

Not build from scratch but reusing board-game world and rules (always a good starting point, as Baldur’s Gates proves), serving a cool and funny story in futuristic/blade runnerish setting, the turn-based fights are very similar to Enemy Unknown/Within (duck & cover, different classes). It should be noted that the game is constantly improved and fixed -for instance, fixes added for the Dragonfall extension are included in the main game- which is rare these days, even though it should only be natural. The said Dragonfall extension was just released soon as standalone and copies given to people that have bought the extension.

I’d like to point out that Expeditions: Conquistador, that I already mentioned, provides also an experience similar to XCOM, having both a main campaign and turn-based fights, in a Brave New World setting. In my experience, it is best for a tactical gameplay to set difficulty to “custom” with smartest AI possible along with most damage advantage for your units: a mix of hardest and easiest settings. The campaign is smart in all accounts (very well written dialogs, historical consistency), giving you freedom enough to choose between playing like a hippie, a bigot, a crook, a warmonger or else. The replay value of the campaign does not seems overly high to me, redoing all the quest seems boring to me, but I nonetheless have around 37 hours on record for the game (after a quick restart after a first disastrous campaign) which seem kind of decent. So that’s definitely a very good game too.

He fought with his knife and he fought with his gun And he fought till his blood ran through!

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