Review: XCOM – Enemy Unknown / Platform: iOS, Android / Release Date: Out Now
The popular turn-based action/strategy game arrives at the app store, its addictiveness very much in tow. You oversee a team of crack military operatives – a cross between Warhammer 40,000's Space Marines and Commander Shepherd's Mass Effect crew – fighting aliens around the world and across the galaxy. The aliens may look a lot like Seth Rogen in that Simon Pegg film, but don't be fooled – they're dangerous, vicious little buggers.
Despite it being more ambitious than your average mobile video game (no more variations on Temple Run, please!) XCOM is very easy to navigate and control. Turn-based combat may not be to all tastes (“sure, I'll hold still while you blast away at me) but if the continued popularity of Games Workshop has taught us anything, it's that there's definitely a market for that sort of thing. And with you being able to rename the soldiers in your squad as they come and go, it adds a very welcome Worms/Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate sort of vibe to proceedings. Depending upon your level of maturity, you'll no doubt enjoy renaming your characters after either Expendables cast members or very rude words. It's very good of them to let you have that. And as your squad follows you from mission to mission, you'll find yourself growing very attached to them all too. I was surprisingly affected by the death of Sergeant Stallone during one particularly badly judged shootout. Tip: getting to cover before the end of every turn is vital.
Following a massive install (it took ages and I had to delete almost everything else from my iPhone) the first thing you'll notice about XCOM is the incredible graphics. While the load times are longer and it looks rougher round the edges, the step down from PS3 and Xbox is negligible. The format works better too, being very suited to the handheld format. The lack of save points in-between levels is annoying and the unskippable cut scenes are a pain, but it's otherwise excellent. Just as well, since it has a very hefty price tag for a mobile game. Still, at least that means there's less of a reliance on in-game purchases and credits than most.
A Candy Crush Saga for sci-fi nerds, XCOM is massively addictive. Past the duller tutorial levels, there's really no looking back. Prepare to lose hours of your commuting or sneaky boardroom time caught up in tactical gun battles between your hardy marines and those scurrilous alien monsters. If you have yourself an iPhone and plenty of gaming time on your hands, XCOM is a must-have purchase. Your move, gamers.