Remember X-Com? “Mindless Diversion’s Game Of The Year 2012“? No? Well, it was, pretty much, “Independence Day” the game (except less dumb). Aliens invade, we have no idea how to fight against them, through little more than brute force (machine guns, sniper rifles, shotguns) we manage to kill a few of the weaker ones and then start reverse engineering.
The combat was surprisingly good: You’ve got a squad of four squaddies and each of them have two “things you can do” in any given turn. You can move and shoot. You can shoot and move. You can shoot twice. You can reload and move. You can move and reload. And so on. The turn-based tactics made the game a lot of fun and made this a game for people who might not have the reflexes they boasted 20 years ago.
So when I heard that they were making a first person shooter based on X-Com, I was a hair apprehensive. They’ll mess up the combat! They’ll mess up the squad stuff! They’ll ruin everything!
Well… I’ve been playing The Bureau and, so far, they haven’t messed everything up. Yes, it’s first person and, sigh, it’s real time. With that said, they’ve done some interesting things… for one, the maps *FEEL* like X-Com maps. Crates set up in warehouses just so, laboratory tables set up providing partial cover, fallen debris creating a straight line of chest-high junk… you’re just looking at the maps from soldier’s eye view rather than bird’s eye.
Additionally, you call out moves to your squaddies (which slows down time to the point where it almost pauses the game), go there, then target that particular alien (or throw a grenade, or take the time to do a critical shot, or build a turret, or… well, you’ll know the moves when they are shown to you). This part of the game feels ripped from X-Com. It doesn’t feel clunky at all and it was second nature to me by the end of the first fight.
As for the story, it’s set in Kennedy’s America. Mad Men fighting space aliens. The aliens invade, communications are cut off, and it’s down to the folks in the Bureau to put together a response in time to save the USA. And, I suppose, The World. It feels like an interesting nostalgia trip while, at the same time, being a surprisingly competent first person shooter.
If you like FPSes and you can’t wait for the next chapter in the X-Com universe proper? This will tide you over for a spell.
So… what are you playing?