The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a new entry in the popular XCOM series of games, which was rebooted by 2K last year after a large gap in releases. The Bureau can be considered as more of a spin-off, as it deviates from the traditional XCOM formula, but still remains an enjoyable experience. Read on for our full review…

Traditionally, the XCOM series is focused on turn-based strategy gameplay. The Bureau reduces the focus on this, and goes more in the direction of third-person tactical shooting. Make no mistake, this is not your generic third person shooter title; the game still requires strategic thinking and planning of your attacks, but these are often short term plans, such as 30 second battle plans, rather than the traditional turn-based 3-10 minute battles.

One of the things I really like about the game is the Noire style, which really dominates the atmosphere within The Bureau. You play as the dapper protagonist, Carter, who in turn leads a squad of AI companions (who are often chosen by you from a pool of characters with different skills and personalities). This game gives more control of AI than the usual third person shooter, allowing you to issue commands and battle plans to your assistants, integrating the classic XCOM formula in a third person shooter setting. In my opinion, it works very well, and I really enjoyed playing the game.

One of the very enjoyable things is actually spending time in the headquarters between levels. The HQ is brought to life by characters muttering conversations, film reels being investigated, radio broadcasts being analysed and people walking around. It really helps to game feel less like AI, and draws you into the story of the game, allowing further enjoyment. The headquarters is an impressive inclusion, and works effectively.

So, to give a quick basis on the plot, the game is, as mentioned, set in a Noire themed America in the 1960s. The country is becoming more destroyed as each minute passes, as the alien invasion continues to drop in. The environment is absolutely beautiful, and everything is recreated with perfection. The backgrounds, characters and weapons have all been dedicated a lot of time for design. The game is very linear, however, so, much of the game is spend walking though passages and corridors.

Combat is performed using classic weapons most will know, such as the M14, M1911 and a variety of shotguns. There are also a number of laser rifles which are salvaged from the dead alien enemies. The guns are designed well, have a nice feel to them and fire comfortably. The tactical options allow you to plant mines, drop turrets, order critical attacks and use a variety of other technology to take out enemies in intuitive ways. This is how the XCOM formula remains integrated into this new approach by 2K Marin.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is not your tradition third-person shooter; try to play it as such as you will die very quickly. XCOM’s classic roots are deeply integrated into the title, still requiring strategic thinking, but combining it with a new idea to perhaps introduce new people to the series. It is a great way for players to transition to playing strategic games, as it slowly blends the strategic necessity with shooting, teaching the player to devise plans. Overall, I love the game; it offers an enjoyable story, great graphics & atmosphere, fantastic voice acting and excellent gameplay.