Does Firaxis really “get” X-Com?

, | Games

I can maybe learn to live with the missing hyphen in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the latter day update of X-Com. Especially since developer Firaxis seems to have simultaneously nailed and updated what made X-Com great. I’ve also been playing a canny iPad clone of/homage to the original X-Com called Aliens vs Humans, which reminds me how slow and intentionally frustrating and meticulous and tense and even sadistically user-hostile X-Com was back in the day. Aliens vs Humans doesn’t shy away from any of this. But Firaxis clearly wants to present the X-Com fundamentals without alienating folks who weren’t dinking around with AUTOEXEC.BAT files and manuals and the punishing trial and error of choosing between progress and permadeath. The differences between X-Com and XCOM strike me as the difference between great movies in the 70s and great movies today. They did things back then that they just don’t do today. It’s the same with games, and that’s not a criticism so much as an observation.

But I do draw the line at the lack of a UFOpedia. What kind of X-Com merely has a “database”? “UFO Database”? Really, Firaxis? Fortunately, I’m playing on XCOM the PC, so surely a mod is on the way.