XCOM: The Board Game

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Videogames / Miscellaneous -

Xtremely COM­pli­cated

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

One- four play­ers | £ 39.99 Designer: Eric M Lang Pub­lisher: Fan­tasy Flight Games

For over 21 years the

XCOM videogame has been pul­veris­ing puny earth­lings with its bru­tal alien as­saults. No­to­ri­ously one of the tough­est gam­ing se­ries ever cre­ated, it tasks play­ers with com­mand­ing a global de­fence para­mil­i­tary or­gan­i­sa­tion dur­ing an ex­ten­sive ET as­sault.

This boardgame’s based on 2012’ s suc­cess­ful reimag­in­ing of the fran­chise and keeps all of those sys­tems in­tact – es­pe­cially the dif­fi­culty. Each player is as­signed a role ( Cen­tral Of­fi­cer, Chief Sci­en­tist, Squad Leader or Com­man­der) and takes sole re­spon­si­bil­ity for a small part of the XCOM team: shoot­ing down UFOs, re­search­ing tech, de­fend­ing the base or the most heroic of tasks, main­tain­ing the bud­get.

It’s all very sim­i­lar to 2007’ s popular dis­ease- con­trol boardgame Pan­demic, but with two twists: a well- crafted XCOM theme that will please fans, and a manda­tory com­pan­ion app for mo­biles or tablets that con­trols the alien threat. This lat­ter twist is the weak link. With so much to jug­gle, even when re­spon­si­bil­i­ties are split four ways, the app could have helped track the game; in­stead it fea­tures a con­vo­luted tu­to­rial, then doles out ran­dom- or­der at­tacks and times your re­sponses for the full games. Take too long to re­act to threats and you’re fur­ther pe­nalised in the next phase.

With four well- drilled play­ers XCOM even­tu­ally be­comes a deep, re­lent­less ex­pe­ri­ence, but the bar­rier to en­try is painfully high. Matthew Pel­lett

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