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XCOM: Enemy Unknown - A classic for a modern generation

Protect Earth from the scum of the universe, one turn at a time...

Want to defend the planet against an alien invasion, build secret underground headquarters, launch satellites to spy for UFOs, and direct ground battles against alien nasties?

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Want to do it in a remake of one of the best turn-based strategy games of all time, developed by the world's best turn-based developer? Welcome to XCOM Enemy Unknown.

Enemy Unknown places you as the leader of XCOM, Earth's only defence against an otherwordly invasion. But first you've got to set it up: so you build your base, launch your satellites, research new technology and train your soldiers.

The base is abeautiful and detailed ant farm of recruits exercising, playing games and visiting injured friends in the infirmary.

Once you detect an alien threat somewhere on Earth, you pick up to six of those recruits and direct them in battle. These tense, small-scale firefights are the heart of the game.

GAS PANIC

In the example we were shown by lead designer Jake Solomon, XCOM's squad was dropped off outside a petrol station. The first job is to locate the aliens: Jake quickly spots a small grey Sectoid alien hiding behind a car (good plan, invader from another galaxy!) and directs one soldier to give suppressing fire and another to toss a grenade inside the car. Boom.

Turn-based combat means each soldier can move and perform only one action per turn, with firing a weapon the most basic. It's more about tactics than brute force.

The large, gorilla-like Mutons inside the petrol station are the bigger problem. Thankfully, it's not just cars that are destructible. Jake has his Heavy soldier rocket the side of the petrol station; boom again. The entire wall crumbles, giving his sniper line of sight on the Mutons.

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This was an easy mission, but Enemy Unknown's stakes are always high. You customise, train, name and nickname a soldier, then bond with them over hours of use. Then - like a child watching a favourite toy being broken - you cringe as a rookie panics and blows up a petrol pump, killing everyone and adding more names to your base's growing memorial room...

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