Review: XCOM – Enemy Within / Developer: Firaxis Games / Publisher: 2K Games / Platform: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 / Release Date: Out Now
Those still stinging from the waste of time which was Slingshot will be happy to know XCOM’s Enemy Within expansion more than makes up for Firaxis’ past failing. As with their Civ V expansions, XCOM’s overall story and direction remain the same with this expansion even while it adds a new dimension to the title.
Playing upon themes brought up in the previous campaign, Enemy Within expands upon the idea of better utilising alien tech for self-enhancement. Along with gene-modded marines, added to your roster now are eight-foot-tall MEC Troopers armed and armoured to the teeth. While the former offer largely passive buffs discovered by dismembering the corpses of aliens, the more tasty additions are the Troopers. Serving as an entirely separate class of soldiers, they stomp about wielding the sorts of things usually reserved for Interceptors. While unable to headbutt Sectopods to scrap and vulnerable to the hyper-accurate Thin Men, they make a joke of both the weaker aliens and EXALT agents.
EXALT are the other side of this coin. With XCOM’s troopers becoming more like their enemy, some of Earth’s populace begin to agree with the aliens’ transhuman ambitions. While far from threatening to your newly beefed-up forces in a gunfight, their ability to steal funding, sabotage research and raise panic levels makes them a threat which cannot be ignored. Even the aliens themselves have had a few buffs with their own Mechtoids and buffed units, along with squid-like Seeker stealth units which make life hell for your snipers and assaults.
With many major bug fixes and desired improvements such as actually making your multi-cultural task force sound like they’re from outside the USA, there’s no arguing it’s a major improvement over last time. Also, for the cheap shots out there, save scumming has been made viable once again. This isn’t to say the game is perfect however.
While the gameplay itself is buffed considerably, don’t expect the story to actually address any of the themes it brings up. Hearing your support staff go on and on about their many concerns only for it to amount to nothing makes much of the potential threat in what you are doing feel empty. Furthermore, while overall balance has been maintained, there’s little to disguise the fact your gene and MEC Troopers have an easier time during end game – far more so than just the generic grunts you commanded last time.
Still, when the biggest criticisms are story-related and the new toys are so powerful, this has to count overall as a fantastic expansion. It might be pricey, but if you enjoyed the last one, you’re going to love Enemy Within.