Xcom: This is Bullshit

I really wanted to like Xcom, I really, really did. All my friends seem to like it, lots of fans of the original seem to like it. I do not. I can’t even be bothered to dignify it with a full playthrough. I proclaimed the eponymous ejaculation, ‘This is Bullshit’ just after the third time I tried to maneuver my dude into cover only to be beset with twitching betwixt levels of terrain, not actually going in to the cover despite it being clearly flagged as cover, and not being able to reach and reside in what appeared to be a clearly blank space. It wasn’t just that I was annoyed at of course, that was merely the proverbial straw that caused the camel to ragdoll gracelessly about. Some of the changes are actually quite welcome, two turns for each guy makes a kind of sense I guess, and the tactical part of the original could, at times, be slow and unwieldy, so doing something about it is perfectly fine. The original could benefit from a autosave system, which is bizarrely off by default, but I’m assuming that’s to keep the usual people happy. You know the sort, the sort that rants about how challenging the game is before they mention what the gameplay actually is. Gamers seemingly have so little self-control we actually need an option to enforce not loading rather than … well, not loading. And this of course is to be celebrated. Making a wrong move because the game can’t decide which elevation level you mean after you haven’t selected a new level be damned apparently.

In the original, there was never any problem with selecting a particular level because the game simply fixed you on the level that you had selected. This is a perfectly sensible approach, and if I were in a meeting where someone said, “yeah, but won’t it look a bit silly just having our cursor in a space we can’t move into because it’s part of a wall, even if we change the cursor type so its obvious we can’t move there, we should totes make it so that the cursor moves to a level other than the one currently selected,” then this person would be quietly led outside and shot.

Is it just me, or has the definition of that infamous phrase, “hard, but fair”, changed somewhat over time? The original game was hard to be sure, but hey, you can always send more soldiers, you can always just take more equipment and set them up better. After all the enemies are the enemies, the game isn’t suddenly going to add a bunch more and drop them magically beside you, right? Right? Wrong. In the new game this is exactly what happens. In the original it was a fair fight, you had a bunch o’ guys, they had a bunch o’ guys. You could take a bunch o’ hits, they could take a bunch o’ hits. None of this in the new one. Oh no. In the new one it’s allll abouuutttt the cccoooovvveeerrrr. And shooting through it because the hit system is based on a percentage chance. What’s the advantage of being covered on three sides? None that I can see in the new one. In the original the game works out from your skill with a gun what arc you miss the ideal from and then sends the projectile along that path. If you hit a bad guy, well done, if you hit something else, better luck next time. The projectile of course started from inside the gun rather than three foot behind it (why do games do that?). Honestly though, what was wrong with the arc working out projectile deely? Why would you ever want to go from that to a system where you simply work out the chance to hit, shit-in-the-way be damned?

Why is the new one so restrictive? What are they afraid of? If I want to take two bottles medikits into the shower battle, then why can’t I? Yes, I know it doesn’t make sense, but hey, its an object right, if I want to throw it to some other guy to use like in the original, I can do so, right. Of course not, that would give the player some freedom. Can’t have that, they might use it. I just don’t understand what the point of the limitation is, are we so concerned with balance and providing a consistent (and difficult?) experience that we can’t stand it when a player wants to use their initiative or imagination? Isn’t that, well, sad? Compared to the original, it feels like there is this gulf betwixt the tactical dudes-running-around-shooting-aliens section of the game and the geoscape and getting-your-guys-ready stages of the game and over such stupid crap. Want to send two interceptors to take down a UFO? Tough. Want to take a medikit and a grenade into battle? Tough. Pick one. Soldiers could never carry both. Its like warfare before the invention of the bag. Even getting new body armour means you have to take the body armour in your medikit / scope / frag grenade slot instead of, oh I don’t know, the fucking body armour slot.

And that’s not even, by any measure, all that I could complain about.

Yep, I’m one of those people, I can’t help but regard Xcom as a massive slap in the face.

Am I unpleasable? So hardcore that I could never be happy? Utter nonsense. Here’s how to make me happy. Remember Street Fighter 2? Remember Street Fighter 2: HD Remix? I want to see an Xcom: HD. I want to see as many extra simplifying, freedom and choice removing options as they like. So long as I can turn them off. I’d also like to see it use the music of the original in much the same way as the Street Fighter one, which I sorely missed in the new “Xcom”.