The Bureau: XCOM Declassified review round up

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The Bureau: XCOM Declassifed is meant to bring us back to the 1960s, a time when men wore hats and smoked indoors, ALL THE TIME! You’ll be hearing from us about the game, but for now reviews are coming in; let’s see what everyone is saying about it!

  • Destructoid: 4.5 – The Bureau: XCOM Declassified desperately wants to be liked, but by failing to satisfy in any direction, all it succeeds in being is a disappointment. It wants to be a strategy game without being a strategy game, it wants to be a shooter without being a shooter, and it wants to be XCOM without being XCOM. As such, it is nothing. It’s an inconsequential waste of time that does nothing for anybody, and saying that makes me feel guilty because its cloying pleas to not be hated are worthy of pity.
  • Edge: 6 – The Bureau’s focus on squad management and abilities gives it a rhythm distinct from other thirdperson, cover-based shooters, and combat provides a solid, often intense and engaging core on which to hang 2K Marin’s terrifically well realised ’60s America. It’s a slick slice of B-movie alien blasting, in short, but we’re glad it’s standing alongside a more authentic take on XCOM rather than wearing its visage but not quite acting the same.
  • Eurogamer: 7 – Given its fractured development and lumpen structure, the fact that The Bureau is actually pretty good is arguably victory enough. It’s certainly the “contemporary” game 2K wanted – but it’s never as inventive or memorable as the strategy game that inspired it.
  • Game Informer: 7.5 – I lost touch with what was going on, but eventually I was charmed by the pure insanity on display. Even as the story wears out its welcome, some gonzo story points and exciting choices reinvigorate the final act. I wish more of the game was characterized by the dramatic decisions found in the final hours. The Bureau tries to be many things, and succeeds only moderately at most of them. Even so, I’m happy this long-in-gestation project has finally seen the light of day.
  • Games Radar: 3/5 – There are plenty of good ideas in The Bureau: XCOM Declassified–the story takes a few interesting turns, and the gameplay slowly evolves into a fun, complex shooter that rewards strategic play. It never does these things at the same time, though. You’ll find that you are either interested in the compelling story but bored with the lackluster gameplay, or enamored with the thrilling gameplay and tired of the muddled story. Most of the pieces for an interesting, compelling experience are there, but they simply never come together to create a memorable affair.
  • IGN: 5.5 – Don’t call this XCOM. While its tactical combat works well enough to prevent The Bureau: XCOM Declassified from being straight-up bad, everything else is fumbled so often and so bizarrely that I can’t recommend it. Hell, this prequel can’t even manage to explain where the name XCOM comes from even as it shows it being coined – it’s simply pulled out of thin air. That shoddy storytelling and poorly thought-out mechanics become the most memorable thing about it, and that’s not worth much.
  • Joystiq: 4/5 – Paradoxically, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified feels immediate and inclusive as a strategy game, relying more closely on your rapid-fire commands than the bursts of your rifle. The odd hybrid is far from being fully evolved, but it’s well suited to further study. As an XCOM alien expert says after an exciting acquisition, “I can’t wait for the autopsy.”
  • Kotaku: You should play this game – The Bureau is by no means a bad game; if 2K Games, however, had published this before Enemy Unknown then I don’t think the reborn XCOM name would be held in as high regard as it is today. Having played Enemy Unknown and now The Bureau, I now understand why the franchise’s longtime fans would have been so upset. These are two completely different games, and comparisons to the original X-COM would be unfair to The Bureau. 
  • Polygon: 7 – The underutilized XCOM base is an appropriate metaphor for The Bureau itself. Limitless possibilities for intrigue, tactics, mystery and terror appear to be on offer. But The Bureau keeps most of it to itself, leaving only scraps and the grunt work of killing aliens. That may be an amusing way to kill 10 hours or so, but it’s a long way from a memorable one.

Some pretty mixed results, but I still totally want one of those wrist thingamajigs. Are you excited for The Bureau? What makes you an XCOM fan (or not)?

Last Updated: August 21, 2013

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