BADGP Reviews: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2K Marin, Australia, China / 2K Games)

Released: August 20, 2013

Review: If Mass Effect Looked Like L.A. Noire, but Was Not Nearly as Good as Either

Thomas Linna

September 18, 2013

What is The Bureau: XCOM Declassified?

The Bureau has come from the series of XCOM games that have been finding favor within the gaming community after 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown. This new branch of the series is set in 1960’s United States. The world has been invaded by aliens and you are the rising hero that is here to take the U.S. back by storm. The main character is an ex-military man who lost his family in a house fire while he was off fighting. This is a recurring theme seen throughout the game in the form of flashbacks to imagined conversations with his loved ones who had died. He was drafted in the middle of the apocalypse by XCOM to eradicate and take back main cities and important strongholds that were suddenly overtaken by the aliens. He offered assistance through the means of teammates that you could either manually build at the headquarters or find them in the field as you go on missions. The main storyline is basically you and, at max, three other men slowly move your way from cover to cover in city streets and reasonably spacious rooms. The real story inside the story comes later on with the introduction of special form of alien where it is a superior being that can takeover basically anyone and then use them to communicate with others. There are two of these things and one was attached to the main character for better part of the game and the other attached to the leader of the alien army that waged war on earth. These creatures are the only thing that was unexpected throughout the story line. Eventually realizing this creature was physically strapped to you this whole time and apparently acting as sort of like a guardian angel, you suddenly become estranged to the thing and literally rip it off of your body. The biggest and really only solid plot decision to make, ends up being that of which when you decide who the thing wants to latch onto next. Besides this, you go on one final mission as the new “host” and make one other decision of who to rescue on this extremely dangerous mission to directly confront the leader of the enemy. This decision anticlimactically left one other person in the main storyline to die after the decision was made. Apparently, the ending sequence changes for whomever you chose as the host and the saved person from the last mission.

How Does It Look?

The Bureau resembles somewhat of a poor quality version of Mass Effect and Bioshock smashed together. It wasn’t completely unbearable with cool designs for pack that were worn for stat changes and there was complete character customization of all playable characters. This game had some slight loading issues and invisible walls, but was overall pleasing to the eyes. The alien weaponry slightly resembled guns in the Halo series and fired lasers to a similar effect. The art design of the 1960’s was definitely well made and looked like something out of L.A. Noir, even the clothes did as well.

How Does It Sound?

The sound was something I had struggled with in my play through. The audio would suddenly cut out and I would lose whole section of in-game fighting and cut-scenes where I would literally hear nothing. It happened at a rather important section at the end and I was constantly aggravated with it throughout the entirety of the experience. Besides that, the sounds the guns made and the random shouts of the enemy were well made and pleasing to the ear, but the constant crying and whining of my allies was quite the annoying thing to deal with throughout the game. Background music and any other form of music were soothing, and worked well in the era of the 1960’s U.S.

 

How Does It Play?

The gameplay was nothing to write home about and the cover-to-cover third person shooter style is and will always be a decent style of play. The style was still blander than ever though in this game and due to command prompts you could issue to your allies made this game look good and at first feel good to play, but over time, it became boring and a hassle to constantly control each and every ally and yourself while fighting the more difficult enemies and even just the heavier sections required full control over every ally. Game controls are basic and easy to use. This third person shooter ended up being pretty average overall on all of its gameplay decisions throughout.

How Does It Compare?

This game feels like it rips off multiple games and then completely misuses them and creates a very bad version of those games. Using L.A. Noir art design, weapon design of Bioshock and Halo, and then using the fighting design of Mass Effect kind of makes it seems that the game just decided to put it hands to one too many cookie jars when it comes to stealing designs from multiple, well-known games. As one of the games from the XCOM series, I was looking forward to this game for many reasons. This game underwhelmed me and was actually a great disappointment for me as whole. I drudged through the game and came out with the verdict that this game was mediocre at every turn. The quality did not match up with that of an XCOM game and the development felt sloppy and quickly thrown together.

 

Final Verdict

This game was not worth my time and it disappointed me in many if not all areas of the game. It felt more or less like a knock off of many well-known games and performed sub-par on all of those aspects. There were one too many flaws in gameplay and audio performance and I never really was pulled into the game. Overall, I give this game a score of 3.7 due to one too many glitches and undesirable parts that pulled down the game as a whole as well as being very forgettable and verging on boring. It was playable, but bland to say the least about the gameplay.

Score:

3.7 out of 10

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