The Bureau: XCOM Declassified [Video Game Review]

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I’m not an old fan of XCOM and won’t pretend to be, I only got into the series with Enemy Unknown, but I really enjoyed playing that – even with 99% chances to hit missing almost every time and various other issues. From what I know, it was basically a remake of the original title, both of them also being turn based strategy games – while this game (I’m not writing that fucking title over and over) is an entirely new prequel taking place in the 1960s that’s played as a third person shooter.

William Carter is an asshole the entire game, and not the endearing kind – he’s just a prick with no reason to like him at all, yet nobody around him ever seems to notice that he’s constantly berating them or needlessly bitching about something. It’s not even a situation of picking responses – they give you the little choice wheel, but every answer is just being a dick. Hell, during some of the missions he’ll bitch at people for complimenting him. “Wow, you’ve really given me a new hope!” NO. CARTER WILL HAVE NONE OF THAT. He responds with “I’m your CO, not your psychiatrist.” I mean what the fuck is wrong with this guy? Oh, but wait, when there’s a woman on one of the missions who is also breaking all her orders, steals military property, completely fucks up the plan by killing a target you needed alive? Oh, he’s nice to her, helps her, is all sensitive with her, and purposefully lets her continue doing whatever she feels like. So a woman putting humanity at risk and going against orders is fine, but God forbid your BLACK pilot in the 1960s tells you you’re so cool – is Carter just racist? No! He’s just a shithead, don’t worry.

The only remotely acceptable character aside the entirely undeveloped squad members is DaSilva – and that’s likely just because he happens to be voiced by Liam O’Brien who is one of my favorite voice actors. The rest of the cast’s voice acting is alright, aside from the overly faked German scientist and a scientist that sounds equally faked as an Australian who looks like a British guy.

Oh, right - the aliens all speak out of vaginas, I almost forgot.

Oh, right – the aliens all speak out of vaginas, I almost forgot.

The story is fucking terrible and I never even cared about it, I tried to but ended up very quickly learning my lesson. After the first 3 or so hours I just started speed reading story-relevant bits and skipping through all the optional text in case it would unlock a side mission for me to do. The plot is basically just an excuse to have more “go and shoot things” missions and give them a reason, rather than just going and shooting. Also, I found it odd that apparently every single fucking alien can now talk – which was never the case in XCOM Enemy Unknown with one exception. But, here, oh you just have nice chats with an alien you capture and have one taunting you over the radio all the time with the most cliche of “we’re trying to help you by enslaving you!” lines. The further you get in the worse it gets.

Graphically it looks…okay. It’s not ugly but it’s not anything special, it looks fine. However, I’m playing on PS3 and it has had issues pretty frequently¬† with stuttering, FPS drop, and completely freezing up for a few seconds before responding again. This is something I could see happening on PC if I had the settings too high – but how the fuck do you mess up when you are developing it for a specific set of hardware? Shit like this in console games is one of the most annoying pieces of proof that developers are just fucking lazy. There are also a few really obnoxious quirks, like Carter doing the same two hand motion animations over and over – and both are really awkward. Another thing was when I went to upgrade one of my squad members I accidentally got the design information on how to set it up and all the {placeholder text} type shit and {example of skill tree} image.

I found this on Google - I did not play on the Xbox 360 as I am not a 13 year old.

I found this on Google – I didn’t play on the Xbox 360 as I am not a 13 year old.

The gameplay is actually not as bad as people make it out to be and is the only redeeming factor of the game – albeit still nothing outstanding. The main problem I had was the cover system kept sticking me to shit when I was simply trying to run past things, and getting off of cover was often times unresponsive which left me about to die or one of my squaddies laying on the ground close to bleeding out one foot away because I was stuck on the goddamn wall. The main combat concept wasn’t bad, but it’s been done plenty of times before and in a better fashion, such as in Mass Effect. I did like setting things up right as a battle started all in slow-mo though, throwing out a turret, blob, taking an enemy’s mind over, getting a drone out, putting mines all over, lifting an enemy and having my squad target it, putting shield on us, and all that all right in the first like 10 real-time seconds of combat is kind of fun somehow. The best part is when it all happens once you leave the slow-motion and the enemies are still running to position while you and your two squadmates are just doing all sorts of shit real fast. Aside that the radial menu slow-mo shit was the best part of the game, it kept me interested enough to keep playing – as managing everything (thanks to the awful AI) took some actual thought some of the time, or was at least somewhat fun to do.

There’s only two squad members per mission along with yourself – which is kind of stupid given you have like 10 people waiting to be used that are useless. You can send them out like Assassin’s Creed but there’s not even a reason to bother, you just get more SHITTY BACKPACKS or more recruits. The idea is that you keep them prepped for when your main guys die – however I never lost a single teammate and I was on the second hardest difficulty. With the ability to heal both squadmates from across the map and revive an endless amount of times, anyone bleeding out is kind of not a real possibility.

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One thing I saw no point in was the parts where you walked around the base and talked to people about nothing. I got the point, to give some breaks to the action and expand on the story; but the story sucks and you are stuck in this light jog instead of being able to sprint around the confusingly designed building with randomly blocked areas that you used to be able to go into. On top of that, all you find is a lot of boringly written dialogue with Carter doing his hand shit again and a few pointless side missions that reward you with absolutely nothing whatsoever.

Before ending this, there was another glaring issue with this game: the A.I. of the squad members. They are INCREDIBLY stupid, even if you give them orders – as seconds later they often decide to just ignore them. They almost always run into the open and just sit there shooting instead of taking any of the very obvious cover and choose to stand inches away from it instead, they can’t use their abilities on their own, they have hilariously low accuracy unless you command them to shoot a target every time, and they are constantly screaming for you to heal them even if they have 90% of their health left.

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This is a bad game in almost every way, but it is still playable. The combat is low-to-mid range quality for a TPS and the gimmick of the command system is kind of fun, as you get to sort of micromanage what’s going on while you’re in the thick of it. I’m very glad I just got it with GameFly – as it was a game I intended on buying originally, and I’d suggest not playing it unless you also can just rent or borrow it from someone. Basically, it’s not a game worth spending money on.

I’d say The Bueller: EXCOP Pacified gets a 4 out of 10. Playable, better than some of the awful shit coming out nowadays, and there aren’t any extremely stand-out bad things about it, it’s just all very bland, poorly worked out, and feels almost like one of those movie-based games that isn’t COMPLETELY terrible but just seems like a chore to go through. Still leagues better than Ni no Kuni.

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