The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – Compatibility

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Title Screen

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Title Screen

System Requirements

Operating System: Windows 7 or better
Processor: Quad Core x86 compatible
Memory: 4 GB RAM
Video: AMD Radeon HD 6950, NVidia GeForce GTX 560, or better
(Incompatible with Intel HD 3000 integrated graphics)
Sound: DirectX compatible sound card
Hard Disk: 12 GB

Windows 10

The Steam version of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified ran flawlessly for me in Windows 10.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – Windows 8 and Mac OS X 10.8 Game First Impressions

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Title Screen

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified Title Screen

When I think of the XCOM series, I think of turn-based strategy and covert government agency management. I have fond memories of playing the first game in the series, XCOM: UFO Defense, with a close friend a few years after it came out in 1994. He found it in a bargain bin at a Tuesday Morning and talked his mom into getting it for him, much to our delight. The gameplay elements introduced in this first game were recreated in Firaxis Games’ reboot XCOM: Enemy Unknown released in 2012. In both of these games, the player recruits a squad of elite special forces soldiers to train and send on missions to defend against the extra-terrestrial menaces facing the planet while determining how government funding should be spent to best protect Earth’s security interests. The premise underlying these games provides intense potential for fantastic storylines across genres. And given the cult following of not only the original game, but also for shows like The X-Files, game developers worked to release other XCOM titles spanning other genres of gameplay.

Just casually walking up these stairs at a reduced speed talking to my superior officer on the telephone while all mayhem is breaking loose around me.

Just casually walking up these stairs at a reduced speed talking to my superior officer on the telephone while all mayhem is breaking loose around me.

When I first installed and played The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, published in 2013 by 2K Games and developed by 2K Marin, I thought it would be based on XCOM: Enemy Unknown from the previous year. Interestingly, development on The Bureau: XCOM Declassified began in 2010 and these games seem in most ways unrelated outside of them both having the player defend earth from extra-terrestrial aggressors. The initial events of the game occur in 1962 during John F. Kennedy’s presidency. I haven’t played the game far enough to know if the developers made it tie-in with the story of other XCOM games in the series.

Press Spacebar to Enter Battle Focus Mode.

Press Spacebar to Enter Battle Focus Mode.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is primarily a third-person shooter with tactical elements. As the player receives new recruits throughout the game, they can press the spacebar to command those recruits to move to points of strategic cover and target specific enemy locations. The interface to this is similar in some ways to Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six but happens from within the mission. Time slows down when entering what is called “Battle Focus Mode,” but does not stop entirely and the player is vulnerable while they are making decisions.

Ducked behind a barrier for cover on a two-dimensional plane.

Ducked behind a barrier for cover on a two-dimensional plane.

In general, the core gaming mechanics require that the player seek cover behind objects while being shot at, and when the time is right, use the right mouse button to aim and fire at enemies. Aiming makes you vulnerable, so it is prudent to time your shots when the enemy is firing the least and is the most vulnerable themselves. The controls used to take cover seemed a little awkward to me. Left-shift while facing a wall or other such structure is supposed to enable the player to crouch behind it. Left-shift while moving forward is also supposed to make the player run. Once in such a defensive position, the player may then use A or D on the keyboard to move left or right respectively across the defensive surface. This maps a number of two-dimensional planes onto a clearly three-dimensional world that is at best confusing. I have yet to tell if I’m just not comfortable with the controls yet, or if there is actually a disconnect in some cases with how the game’s engine handles ducking behind a surface versus running around in the larger three-dimensional environment.

Right-Click to Aim and Shoot Aliens in the Face

Right-Click to Aim and Shoot Aliens in the Face

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a very linear game divided into levels with cutscenes throughout to advance the storyline. The storyline is fairly typical for its genre, though rich enough thus far. It reminds me a bit of Resistance: Fall of Man. It plays much like the typical console third-person shooter, but without any save-point frustration that I have noticed thus far. The player may press F5 at any time to get a graphical overlay with the direction they game intends for them to go to progress, and any in-game objects that can be interacted with glow a bright golden yellow.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is unfortunately only single-player. I think it would be incredible to have an arena in which players may strategically command their squad while simultaneously participating in a classic deathmatch. Perhaps someone could eventually release a mod for the game to accomplish this.

If you are a fan of The X-Files, XCOM, Men in Black kind of stories, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified would be relevant to your interests. Outside of having an interesting story, I could think of a multitude of other games I would rather be playing. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a good game for what it is, polished and enjoyable. But it doesn’t quite stack up as a game that would keep me coming back again and again, like the more traditional games in the XCOM series whose namesake The Bureau: XCOM Declassified shares.

Battalion Wars 2 – Nintendo Wii Game First Impressions

Battalion Wars 2 Title Screen

Battalion Wars 2 Title Screen

I purchased my Nintendo Wii right before I graduated college. I actually had it set up to host a post graduation party at my then new apartment. The Wii was relatively new at the time and given that I had scored a new software development job, I decided to make the Nintendo Wii a graduation gift to myself. Coming from a computer gaming background, probably my favorite game genre at that point was real-time strategy.

Consoles are not typically known for their real-time strategy titles. There are many reasons often given for this. I have heard it implied that the game pad controllers are not a good fit for strategy titles. This sounds like a cop out to me. I could imagine it may be difficult to provide a good competitive real-time strategy experience between multiple players playing on a split-screen where everyone can see each other’s troop movements. I’m not sure this would stop such a game from being fun though, and many console strategy titles have some very solid single-player campaigns. I wager the greatest historical reason why gaming consoles did not see many real-time strategy releases was due to the lack of online multiplayer capability.

Empress Lei-Qo of the Sun Empire.

Empress Lei-Qo of the Sun Empire.

I remember the first time I saw a gaming console play a multiplayer real-time strategy game. The game was Command & Conquer: Red Alert on the original Sony Playstation. Two of my friends had hooked their Playstations together using a link cable and were playing two separate sides on two distinct television screens. This seemed ground breaking for consoles to me at the time, but in truth I already owned Starcraft on the PC and was playing it on Blizzard’s Battle.net nearly daily with millions of people around the globe.

Anglo Military Intelligence is second to none!

Anglo Military Intelligence is second to none!

I was a little conflicted on whether I should purchase a Nintendo Wii. On one hand, everyone who had one seemed to be having a lot of fun with it. The Wii-mote controllers were incredibly novel, and worked well. I played extensively with a Wii my friend had. We had some great late-night experiences playing mini-games of Wii Play, Wii Sports, and WarioWare. The Wii seemed like a remarkable party console, and one I wanted to collect for eventually, but wasn’t sure if I needed one right then.

Player begins controlling one person as in a third-person shooter.

Player begins controlling one person as in a third-person shooter.

I don’t know how I heard of Battalion Wars 2. Somehow I think I was complaining that there weren’t enough strategy titles for game consoles. The first game console I had ever purchased was a Sony Playstation 2. One of the first titles I purchased for it was Goblin Commander, a real-time strategy title that was published for the Microsoft XBox and Nintendo Gamecube as well. I figure I must have complained to the right person who encouraged me to look into Battalion Wars 2. I read several positive reviews, and that’s how I got sold on purchasing a Nintendo Wii.

Take command of multiple types of units.

Take command of multiple types of units.

While Battalion Wars 2 used to have the ability to play multiplayer over Nintendo’s Wifi platform, this service is no longer operational. These days a gamer has to be satisfied with its single-player campaign if they wish to play it. In spite of this limitation, I have experienced a great deal of pleasure replaying Battalion Wars 2. Battalion Wars 2 is a real-time tactics game for the Nintendo Wii and was released in 2007. It was developed by Kuju Entertainment and published by Nintendo.

Battalion Wars 2 takes the approach of being an action/strategy hybrid. The game tutorial begins with the player controlling a single commander unit. This commander may be freely moved around the game field from a third-person perspective. The player may target enemies and fire upon them as if they were playing any other third-person shooter console title.

Hopping into a tank and shooting anti-aircraft missiles is fun.

Hopping into a tank and shooting anti-aircraft missiles is fun.

As the player progresses through the tutorial they encounter other units that they may then recruit and command. This opens controls for the player to command units while simultaneously dodging enemy fire and engaging in active combat along-side the player’s troops. In the first mission, the player is then taught to view the battlefield from a bird’s eye view in order to better command the troops under their command.

Battalion Wars 2 is specially designed for the Wii to best use its controls. It never attempts to be another Starcraft or Command & Conquer. It is Battalion Wars 2, and it’s really good at it. There are five different single-player campaigns that may be played: the Solar Empire campaign, the Western Frontier campaign, the Anglo Isles campaign, the Iron Legion campaign, and the Tundran Territories campaign. In my first few missions playing the Solar Empire campaign, I realized how much I had forgotten of the storyline in the ten years since I last played, but have been greatly impressed with how well the game has held up in those years.

The player can get a bird eye's view of the battlefield.

The player can get a bird eye’s view of the battlefield.

The design choices of the races in the campaigns of Battalion Wars 2 are interesting. The Solar Empire, clearly framed as a force of good and light through the beginning of the game, appears to be modeled in many ways after Japan, while their immediate enemy in the first campaign’s missions is the Anglo Isles whose characters are clearly of English decent. Given that this is a Japanese strategy title dealing with military themes, it’s probably one of the few games I have seen provide a Japanese take on modern military politics providing a different view in a genre typically dominated by developers with a western cultural background.

Battalion Wars 2 Game Disc

Battalion Wars 2 Game Disc

There is so much more to be said about Battalion Wars 2 that I will need to save for a more in-depth review. This is in my opinion one of the best titles on the Wii. I purchased a Wii to play this game, and ten years later I have not regretted it. If you come across Battalion Wars 2 and you are a fan of tactics and wouldn’t mind a little action mixed in, I would highly recommend it.