Can XCom2 deliver the tactical brilliance of Enemy Unknown?

XCom2 is only a couple of weeks away, and I’m tempted to make it my first major game purchase of 2015. For those not familiar with the franchise, here’s what I loved about its predecessor, ‘XCom: Enemy Unknown’. 

Turn based combat suits this middle aged gamer better 

As a middle aged gamer (MAG), my reflexes and coordination aren’t what they once were. Truth be told, my reflexes and coordination have never been spectacular. So while I enjoy shooter games, and I’m loving Star Wars:Battlefront, they aren’t my strength.

During my university years, I spent a lot of time playing real time strategy (RTS) games, especially the various instalments of the Command & Conquer series. I’m also a way back fan of turn based military games like Panzer General and Close Combat.  

While I still enjoy RTS, turn based games probably suit my lifestyle better. Firstly, they’re easier to put down and resume, as you don’t lose the same momentum as a game you’re playing live.. Secondly, they’re much better suited to mobile/tablet gaming – especially if you have fat fingers. 

Plenty of choices when it comes to both tactics and strategy

Another thing I love about XCom is the choice at both the tactical and strategic level.
While progression through the game story is relatively linear, players have a range of options for getting to the next milestone. Which new technology will your scientists research first? Will you spend your resources on new weapons now, or invest in better training for your soldiers.

At the tactical level, there’s choices to be made about who to include in your squad, along with the range of weapons and equipment to be selected. It means you can choose the mix of soldier types and equipment that suit your playing style, rather than being locked in to taking a specific squad mix.

Available on iOS, for playing on the go

I was a little later to XCom:Enemy Unknown than most folks because I actually discovered it on iOS. This game played beautifully on the iPad. While the original iOS version lacked the character customisation of other platforms, this doesn’t detract from the overall experience of the game.

For weeks my daily commute was consumed by the challenge of repelling the alien invasion of Earth. It was great fun, and fantastic value at $20.

If you’re a fan of turn based combat games, and looking for a taste of the XCom universe, your cheapest option is to pick up the iOS or Android, or to keep an eye out for Steam or Humble Bundle sales.

And if you’re already an XCom fan, I’d love to know what you think about XCom2 and the battle to reclaim Earth.

From Test Drive to Total Recall: The visual experience of gaming

Gaming has changed a lot in my lifetime.

One of my earliest gaming experiences was playing the original ‘Test Drive’ car game on my uncle’s PC. At the time, the Hercules graphics card was the state of the art in home computer graphics. The video below, though it’s an emulation, gives you a pretty good feel for what that experience was like.

Oh how things have changed.

Here’s me driving my little Opel Astra on a rain soaked track in Forza 6.

It’s a world away from the laggy, two-tone graphics of the original Test Drive.

If we’re not yet at the stage of photorealistic console games, one has to imagine they’re just around the corner. Once 4K televisions become more common, we’ll probably see even more demand for console gaming to take its next step forward in visual quality.

But what if we look even further out?

By the time Jetite reaches my age, how far the visual experience of gaming have advanced? How will things like augmented and virtual reality change the gaming experience in the coming decades? Perhaps the TV screen will be obsolete! Will the future of gaming be like Star Trek’s “holodeck”? Or will it  be purely in our minds – closer to the virtual memories of Total Recall?

Interesting times ahead.