Home Gaming The Bureau: XCOM Declassified review round up

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified review round up

4 min read

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


  1. Jonah Cash

    August 21, 2013 at 13:14

    PlayStation South Africa
    2 hours ago
    We are aware that there has been a lot of speculation regarding the local PlayStation 4 retail price and launch date. We appreciate your patience and support, and have this official statement to share right now:

    South Africa will be releasing the PS4 prior to Christmas. We are planned to go on the 6th of December 2013 due to the logistics of getting the stock to our shores.

    The planned price point, although not officially set due to the uncertainty around the Rand exchange rate, is currently R 6 299 including VAT and it will not be beyond this for launch.

    Retail will be communicated to plan at these levels.
    From Playstation South Africa’s official facebook page….. so there you go we will be next gen gaming come Christmas!!


    • Kromas

      August 21, 2013 at 13:26

      Uhm … weird place to post this but okay.


    • Unavengedavo

      August 21, 2013 at 13:30

      Though they already confirmed it in these two articles?

      “UPDATE: It looks like you’ll be spending your 13th cheque on some Sony merch after all. ITNews Africasays that the console will be out December 6 locally.”

      “Hot off the news that the Playstation 4 will be arriving on December 6, comes word from ITF Gaming that the console has a current RRP of R6299. ”


      • Jonah Cash

        August 21, 2013 at 13:52

        I know, but now we have it from the horses mouth… I usually only trust the horse who makes the stuff over any other form of conformation….


        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          August 21, 2013 at 13:59

          Ta dude!


        • Sageville

          August 21, 2013 at 16:28

          Personally, I am suspicious of all talking animals, horses included.


  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    August 21, 2013 at 13:31

    Reading between the lines, if you go in thinking it’s a tactical shooter, you’ll enjoy it – if you go in thinking you’re playing 1st person XCOM, you won’t. Maybe that has more to do with the reviewers preconceptions than anything else. I’ll give it a look when the inevitable special comes along 🙂


    • Lardus-Respect the beard

      August 21, 2013 at 13:41

      Janee, will wait for the specials. Also, with Enemy Within being official for later this year, I am holding off on new XCom until then!!


  3. TiMsTeR1033

    August 21, 2013 at 13:55

    I saw this coming…. Xcom was never interested in and those videos bored the shit outta me…


  4. RinceThisandbacktoreality

    August 21, 2013 at 13:57

    Oh pants. I was hoping this was going to blow them off actually. Sounds like a bit of a miss… 🙁 Sad Panda. Zoe, you’ve ruined my day!


    • Her Highness the Hipster

      August 21, 2013 at 13:59

      good thing i also gave you good xcom news today 😉


      • RinceThisandbacktoreality

        August 21, 2013 at 14:05

        Oh don’t know Zoe, this is a hard break 🙁 You better have something else up your sleeves for today!


      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        August 21, 2013 at 14:10

        Keep up the bad news please, I prefer it when he wears pants 🙂


        • RinceThisandbacktoreality

          August 21, 2013 at 14:12

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            August 21, 2013 at 14:22

            This is an actual exchange I just had:

            Me: Shut up.
            Colleague: You can’t silence me!
            Me: Wanna bet?
            Colleague: *silence*

            She only realised her error once I started laughing.

          • RinceThisandbacktoreality

            August 21, 2013 at 14:24

            Hahaha! Nice one 🙂

      • Lardus-Respect the beard

        August 21, 2013 at 14:39

        *Quickly verifies who posted the good news article*
        Yes, thanks for that Zoe. Made my day knowing what is coming with Enemy Within! You are a good person even though you have a Mac 😛


  5. WernerE

    August 21, 2013 at 14:04

    I am far more excited for XCOM: Enemy Within than The Bureau…


  6. No Longer SIR Twakkus

    August 21, 2013 at 14:07

    Wow, talk about mixed reviews.
    Will still give it a bash though.


  7. CrasH

    August 22, 2013 at 10:16

    And just 2 days ago i said that just the description alone of the game would make me not buy it…
    If you want to realtime shooting you play with friends in a shooter.

    If you want to play a solo game with AI you hope the AI is not totally stupid and that you have to control there every thought and move in real-time.
    And if you want turn based tatics, then you want 100% full control of the units.
    Well thats how i feel, so i can see why this might fail to me, and i loved the previous one and will likely get the DLC for it.


  8. Zubayr Bhyat

    August 22, 2013 at 12:25

    This is actually a good game. The bad reviews are unwarranted imo. It plays more like Mass Effect than Enemy Unknown really, but still quite strong on both action and tactics side.


  9. Jem

    September 2, 2013 at 10:40

    What I’ve noticed is, most of the people who’ve said that the game doesn’t deserve such hate or that they don’t understand the bad reviews have NOT been X-Com fans. That’s all. For IF the game WAS NOT part of the XCom franchise…it’d be okay. Seriously. Like 7 over 10, which is what some reviewers gave it (clearly reviewers who had not played the other XCom titles). However. The Bureau IS part of the XCom franshise. As such, it does not live up to the great achievements of its predecessors. It’s bad. Not “I hate it” bad, but “It’s a disappointment” bad. As many reviews said…gameplay…okay. Graphics…okay. Story…don’t go there. AI of allies…slightly retarded. So…my review? If you’re not an XCom fan…play it. It’s fun at times. If you ARE an XCom fan…you might want to skip this one. It compares badly to previous titles, not because it’s a FPS, nor because of stupid allies, nor because you can spot plot holes without looking very hard. It’s just…more of a foreign alien shooter than an XCom game; if I were to be totally honest, I’d say that I think some of the developers or story-writers didn’t really bother to research and work on consistency with the other XCom titles before making this one


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