By Rob Valentine

You remember how Superman used to be Christopher Reeve and he had a red cape and was goofy in his Clark Kent alter-ego? And you know how now, Superman is a darker, semi-emo guy who doesn’t even wear his underpants on the outside? It’ll help if you think of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (or TBXD as I’m calling it to sound cool) in those terms. While it’s certainly in the same genius as the previous X-Com games, it’s not really the same animal.

And in some ways, that’s good. Unfortunately, they’re rather outweighed by everything else.


A lot has been written about the 1960s setting for TBXD so I won’t go too much into that save to assure you that the air of male chauvinism and mandatory cigar smoke remain largely intact. I willingly leave it up to you to decide whether that’s a good thing or not.

The hero of our game, Agent Carter is thrown directly into the deep when a “package” he’s delivering gets him into a bit of a tangle. All hell breaks loose across the world and sooner than you can say “little green men”, it’s time to go out and shoot some aliens.


Mechanically, the game has been worked to more or less resemble an XCOM/Mass Effect amalgam with a series of flat encounters in each mission leading ultimately to the mission goal and some plot exposition. Graphics and models are acceptable while not being actually excellent. There’s some visible clipping in close ups, the fingers are a little weird and lip-syncing was obviously not something that the development team put a lot of stock in. Oh, and Agent Carter looks permanently constipated – that may be a sign of his personality though.

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I should warn you – if you go into TBXD playing it as a straight shooter, you’re going to have a bad time. You do need to show a certain level of finesse and, although the alien AI isn’t really much to be write home about, they can still give you a run for your money and occasionally have absolutely withering firepower to throw at you.

A lot of work could have been done on the actual targeting system that you’re forced to use – while Combat Focus (almost frozen time in which you can give your squad instructions) is quite slick, trying to target any of the many flying drones while they swoop ever closer to your head is a nightmare.


Speaking of the Combat Focus system, this is something that was genuinely great to work with. It’s great fun to queue up your team’s commands and watch them gang up on the poor aliens.

Detracting from this though is the fact that if you don’t give them orders every couple seconds, they will simply stand and get shot while whining like little girls. “Help, we need orders!” and “They’re killing us out here! What do we do?” became dreaded words to me and some missions turned into babysitting rather than an elite operation.


Unfortunately, the permadeath feature also falls pretty flat from the get-go. I felt little to no connection to the agents with me – and really, if you can’t get to your squaddies before they bleed out, you’re better off just scrapping and starting from the last checkpoint, all healthy again.

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The plot feels tacked on and clearly has to be forced forward ham fistedly every now and then by amazing revelations that no characters seem particularly amazed by. Even Agent Carter keeps up his “manly” stoicism all the way through betrayals, surprises and wholesale slaughter. Actually, that may be constipation again – see above.


Despite a couple of challenges along the way, it soon becomes obvious that things are actually pretty heavily stacked against the alien race. You and your team get access to more alien tech than you can shake a stick at (it’s not adequately explained how).

Even retiring to your base and talking to the various NPCs around gets tiring after a while. Especially as the base doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment; there are some puzzles but conspicuously absent are weapons research, base management or really anything besides setting up your squad in increasingly lurid colours.


Overall, TBXD makes a reasonable shooter with some quite clever tactical stuff thrown in. The interface for Combat Focus is great; the combat itself grows stale quickly and the squad never feels as cohesive and essential as it did previously. It’s almost as if the game was scrapped halfway through and then rushed through production.


Last Updated: August 23, 2013

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
If it didn’t have the XCOM name attached to it, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified might have made a good game. As it is, it’s just a reminder that this isn’t XCOM. TBXD is better. Let’s call it that.
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified was reviewed on PC
66 / 100

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  • No Longer SIR Twakkus

    Thats a shame. I was really excited about this game.

    • TiMsTeR1033

      I know but I had a funny feeling wasnt gonna impress, but the graphics are impressive I will say that!

      • Hammersteyn

        Hype killed it 🙁

      • No Longer SIR Twakkus

        I am still going to give it a bash as soon as it hits steam sale. I really still think they have some unique ideas which is worth exploring. Hopefully they will continue with the IP, too few innovating games these days.

        • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

          Steam sales FTW

          • No Longer SIR Twakkus

            Jy weet dit!

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I was too, thought it might be a sleeper hit.

      • RinceThisandbeAbsurd

        Me too man. Sounded like an awesome concept!

      • No Longer SIR Twakkus

        Ja me too, but I still think it is worth buying even if it is only when it hits a steam sale. Couple of cool concepts which I think is worth exploring.

        • Rob Valentine

          Look, definitely give it a go – there are some worthwhile things mixed in there. It’s just… not X-COM.

  • Hammersteyn

    Choose a bottle or a gun? Chooses nothing

  • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs


    • Lardus-Respect the beard

      Admiral, I will be on the driving range when the ION comes up. Please make a suitably pervy comment on my behalf to keep the faithful smiling until I get home 😛

      • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

        I too shall be leaving soon. Unfortunately not driving range, but will be applying beer to my face-hole pretty soon

        • Lardus-Respect the beard

          Ag nee! Wie sal die fort dan hou! @rincethis:disqus , it is up to you!!

  • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

    Choo choo killer

    • Unavengedavo (aka. Frik)

  • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

    And THAT my friends, is why I do NOT pre-order

    • Hammersteyn

      So I should cancel my GTA-V 😛

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        Yes, I think you should 😛

        • Hammersteyn


      • RinceThisandbeAbsurd

        No, just forward the game to me, fully paid up of course. I’ll let you know if it’s kak 😉

        • Hammersteyn

          In about a years time probably?

    • Wyzak

      Risky business to pre-order these days.

  • Lardus-Respect the beard

    Was not too bothered with this game, but still hoped it would do well. Imagine a proper ME style XCom game…that would have been great. A man can dream…

    • Zubayr Bhyat

      Unfortunately ME has a smoother system than The Bureau. That’s mainly because it’s had three iterations to get things right.

  • ElimiNathan


  • RinceThisandbeAbsurd

    Written by the LG Community, fuck does that mean? We’re going Borg now? 0-O really sad to hear this didn’t pan out, was so looking forward to it!

    • Jonah Cash

      Rob Valentine is the writer!! He did the PES article as well!! The one where I got down votes for saying I don’t like PES….

      • RinceThisandbeAbsurd

        Hahahaha! Tell me more about what you think about PES, go on… I Double dare ya!

        • Jonah Cash

          Bloody people telling me they want their players’ feelings to influence the way the game plays…. I get enough of that on the weekend when the real players play… Suarez and Rooney are prime examples!!

          • Rob Valentine

            I’m actually kinda looking forward to a football game where everything is played normally by AI and all you have to do is make the players dive and clutch their ankles at the best time.

    • It’s our generic account for non-permanent writers…

      • RinceThisandbeAbsurd

        Gavin, you should be drunk and in Germany, go home! I mean, go to your hotel room 😛

        • Hammersteyn

          Sounds more like a guest account for writers….

          • Rob Valentine

            Bugger. That means I don’t get to be a cyborg.

  • WernerE

    At least we have XCOM: Enemy Within to look forward to! 😀

    • Admiral Chief Raider of Tombs

      Indeed good sir, indeed

  • Zubayr Bhyat

    Look it’s not a bad game if played from a non-Xcom perspective. Just don’t expect miracles 😛

  • Wyzak

    There was something about this game which kept on reminding me of aliens colonial marines. Couldn’t quite put my finger on it. But I’m glad I decided not to pre-order.

  • robthom

    I was mildly excited for the xcom reboot back when it was an FPS (how many years ago?!)

    Now they keep mutating it into every other genre that I dont want to play

  • jazzy1

    This is the same what happened with DmC. People said it’s a bad game because it shared the same name as it’s predecessors but said that as a game on it’s own, it was pretty good. The same thing happened with The Bureau. It’s a pretty stupid way of thinking if you ask me. The people are basically saying it’s a good game but at the same time saying it’s a bad game.

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