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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is not the first-person shooter we were promised three years ago. Instead we get a passable third-person shooter with ambitions to be Mass Effect. Unfortunately neither the gameplay nor the story deliver, leaving us with a messy game with a groan-inducing twist. Rating: 57%
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
Let me start this review with a confession: When this XCOM reboot was first announced, I was less than excited. I considered the classic turn-based strategy title to be one of the best games ever made and words cannot describe how disappointed I was to see it turned into a first-person shooter. After waiting so long for the rebirth of this beloved franchise, it felt like a kick to the gut to see it become just another BioShock knock-off. I longed for a traditional XCOM.

And then, completely out of nowhere, Firaxis announced a brand new turn-based XCOM. Suddenly I didn't care if the first-person shooter existed; I got the update I always wanted. XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a masterpiece, easily one of the best games of 2012. I was too busy trying to keep my squad alive to pay close attention to the long-delayed shooter.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (XBLA)

Here we are nearing the end of 2013 and, after years of mixed signals, the XCOM shooter we were promised has finally been released. However, it's not the first-person shooter we saw all those years ago, but rather a brand new third-person squad-based shooter that digs into the origins of the secretive alien-fighting paramilitary organization. After going from rage to indifference, I finally found myself intrigued by The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.

When it comes right down to it, an XCOM reboot makes a lot of sense. The idea of fighting aliens in the turbulent 1960s is a good one, as it allows the storyteller to explore race relations, women in the work place and all of the other plotlines you see weekly on Mad Men. And when it comes right down to it, I've always been a little curious how the organization got its start.

You see XCOM's beginning through the eyes of William Carter, who has been tasked with delivering a secretive package. When things go horribly wrong, Agent Carter is taken to a hidden underground base and quickly brought up to speed. As it turns out, Earth is under attack by aliens and this organization is doing everything they can to push back. Seconds later William Carter joins XCOM and takes part in an adventure of a lifetime.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (XBLA)

Things start out relatively simple, with a few alien sightings here and a couple hostage missions there. Carter is constantly being ordered to fly all over the United States shooting down a group of extra-terrestrials known as the Outsiders. Thankfully he's not alone in this battle. In every mission, Agent Carter will be joined by two other XCOM recruits, who you can customize and level up from mission to mission.

Instead of being just another Gears of War clone, the developers tried to mix in some of XCOM's tactical elements. On top of being the typical third-person shooter, The Bureau allows players to slow down time to set the squad's every move. While they'll act on their own, this game gives players an impressive amount of control over how the action plays out. But don't think you can just run and gun your way to victory, because the only way to beat this game is to learn how to properly utilize the entire team.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (XBLA)

Thankfully things aren't as hopeless as they appear. Each character has a set of unique abilities, which can be used to turn the tide in battle. Agent Carter is able to lift aliens off the ground and even perform mind-control in later levels. His partners also have useful abilities, such as weakening the enemy shields and creating a giant protective barrier around the squad. And with a bunch of different soldier classes, there's a lot of variety to the characters abilities.

If any of this sounds familiar, it's because The Bureau lifts a lot of its gameplay elements from the popular Mass Effect trilogy. There's even a branching text wheel that looks suspiciously familiar. Given the reboot started its life as a BioShock knock-off, XCOM's continued identity crisis doesn't come as a surprise.
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