Review: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Developer:   2K Marin
Publisher:   2K Games
Platforms:   Microsoft Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Genre:   Tactical Shooter
Mode:   Single Player
Release Dates:   August 20, 2013 (North America)
August 23, 2013 (PAL Region)

The game The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a third person shooter with squad based tactical combat which plays in the 60s. You are William Carter, once a successful CIA agent, and you are recruited by The Bureau, a secret organization that is trying to stop an alien invasion.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Story

Story-wise, the game is decent. The game actually contains several stories in one. The main story is the invasion of the aliens, and learning about the relationship between the aliens and The Bureau. Side stories include character information about characters that you meet in the game, as well as the story of the protagonist. William Carter’s story was in my opinion not too good, however stories of other characters were more exciting. The story about Agent Weaver for example was very interesting to me.
What I also found very interesting about the story, is how it differs from previous XCOM titles.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Gameplay

You play as William Carter and you always have two squad members, sometimes a third auxiliary member, depending on the mission. Each member has a specific set of equipment, weapons and abilities available. These dictate your playstyle and strategy on the battle field. You are your squad mates gain experience to level up, unlocking new abilities, allowing you to further enhance your team. During battle, you command them through a tactical combat menu, which allows you to coordinate your squad members attacks and abilities, as well as combat manoeuvres.
When not issueing commands, your team mates will be acting through an AI. This AI is not extremely capable, it for example has trouble dealing with hand grenades, often running into them. Additionally, they have a tendency of moving into areas that you may not find optimal. It would be better if the game would allow you to issue a hold-ground order to tell your team members to stay put where they have been ordered to stay. While the AI is not excellent by any measure, you can quickly learn to adapt to the AI in order to offset its capabilities and maximize their advantages. Although they are not very good, they are not useless either. And a good player can easily still make use of the combat situation and win battles. Team mates become more useful as they level up, just like your character.

To summarize, the game can be seen as a hybrid between turn-based strategy games like XCOM: Enemy Within and third-person shooters like Mass Effect.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Controls

Controls are generally usable, however sometimes they can be a bit quirky. Most noticable is the cover-system, having the cover button stuck to the run button can result in some annoying mishaps that may cause you to lose your otherwise well coordinated battles.
Another things which I did not find too optimal, was the handling of the sniper rifle scopes. Looking through the scope leaves you unfocused from the target you were looking at, requiring you to re-aim the weapon. This makes this weapon less usable in combat situations, which often left me avoiding this weapon in favor alternate choices.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Visual & Audio

The in-game graphics and audio presentation is quite alright. As for the cut scenes, however, the video quality is low, and can be compared to the low quality used on consoles.
What I like about the overall visual atmosphere is the 60s style graphics.
I also very much enjoyed the futuristic looking alien locations.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Final Words

Rating The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a fun third-person shooter with turn-based and RPG elements if you are able to adapt to the gameplay of the AI. If this may be the case, then the game could set you up with some fun and challenging battle secanrios. As a bonus for XCOM fans, the game can offer an interesting alternate look at the XCOM universe.

I would perhaps have scored this game slightly higher, if it wasn’t so that I already finished the game within 10 hours on the hardest difficulty.


This is a Guest Post written by CJ.