Take Two’s Approach
When you gain the rights to a dormant but extremely well loved franchise what is the first thing you do with it? Take Two throws it in the bin and starts again. So Take Two, what is your excuse for this? I mean what did you think would happen? This has NOTHING to do with Xcom. Genre changed, Aliens changed, Story changed, Look changed, so what exactly does this have to do with Xcom apart from the name? The Theme, that theme being angry aliens.
So this is the E3 2011 Trailer
Take Two decided they would make an Xcom game, make a bit of money and leave it at that. Well I will give you a bit of free advice. This game you have here looks dull, in a genre with a massive amount of competition. It will be drowned out by the big boys and to get anything back from it you would have to throw out a massive amount of money in to the advertising, or as I suspect you have done, use the X-com name to get free advertising. If you had made a game similar to the originals you would have to make minimal advertising, the people that have been waiting for a remake would have lapped it up and begged for more.
How to do it properly
You can go to any X-com fan site or related youtube video you will see people want the old game exactly as it was but rebuilt on a modern engine. I however am going to disagree! That doesn’t move the series along or give it a rebirth, what happens if a sequel is needed? Its an “easy” solution but one that doesn’t really get us anything new.
So what would I do? I think firstly we should point out what really makes the classic game what it is:
Just because the game can be remade in real-time doesn’t mean it should be. Chess hasn’t been updated to real-time has it? Having the ability and time to study the battlefield and plot out your moves is a core part of the gameplay. It also makes you feel in control, even when all hell breaks loose (which it often does) you can step back and look at the situation. Counter to that when it isn’t your turn you have no control, your previous plans are tested out and all you can do is watch and prey you have made the right choices. This flow back and forth control and then lack of it is one of the many factors which give the game its tone.
The original X-com game has a dark & gloomy comicbook feel. The openning title sequence is presented as a comic strip with added animations. The actually gameplay itself is also dark and brooding but doesn’t look drab and lifeless, there more than just the limits of the available colour palette going on here. To go along with this the sound track is also stark, spooky and synthy. Compare this with Apacolyse which swapped out this presentation with an art Deco look, it does have a less threatening feel.
So what would a modernised game like this look like?
It would still be quite unique but there are still similar concepts out there like Valkyria Chronicles
The gameplay is more or less spot on. Give it a darker tone and a re-jigged geoscape and you have yourself the basis for a good X-com game. Sadly though I doubt this is ever going to happen, the X-com ship has sailed. People will keep longing for a remake, The license will keep being misused and 3rd parties will continue to create spiritual sequels that never quite manage to live up to the original.