The Bureau: XCOM Declassified – Steam Backlog Bonanza [Blaugust 18]

596 words.

I was minding my own business when aliens descended from the sky, firing lasers from their circular flying saucers. Everything around me exploded. Otherworldly creatures crept out of the smoke and fire, approaching me like simians on all fours. Anyway the next game on the Steam Backlog Bonanza is The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. I bought it in a 2013 Steam sale for $4.

Just an average green glowing energy field in a federal building.

I was looking forward to playing this particular game because I knew it had been controversial. Reviews seemed to be mixed between people who loved it and people who hated it.

I can certainly see why people might be disappointed with it. While X-COM: Enemy Unknown was a pure strategy game, The Bureau is much more of an action shooter with some squad strategy tacked on. I would describe the game mechanics as being quite similar to Mass Effect, actually.

You control a squad of people, and you’re supposed to give them strategic commands during combat. The amount of micromanagement required probably depends on the difficulty level you choose. The default difficulty is “veteran,” but there are two easier selections.

Starting with a bang.

It’s a perfectly adequate game. In fact, I might go out on a limb and say it was slightly better than average. It actually had a story hook at the beginning, which is a rarity among games. Most games start with a whole lot of boring exposition and backstory, but this one actually started right at the “call to action.”

There’s not a lot to the gameplay though. You run from room to room killing aliens and collecting squad mates, following orders from your superiors. It’s all on rails. It’s mainly a cover shooter. There’s a “super slow motion” mode to give orders to your squad, so you can have them build turrets or fire super sniper guns or what-have-you, but otherwise you just shoot the bad guys. It’s perfectly fine.

The graphics are fine, the sounds and music are fine. The voice acting is fine. I recognized the ubiquitous voice of Paladin Danse yet again. One day I need to lookup his actual name. [It’s Peter Jessop.] I didn’t recognize the main protagonist though. He sounded vaguely like a gruff Robert Patrick. [It’s Mark Hildreth.]

I got tired of playing after about an hour. The game just keeps going and going without any logical stopping points.

Will I play more? Maybe, but probably not. The story started with a bang but it didn’t really develop into anything interesting within the first hour. No character development, just plot-driven moving from room to room shooting aliens, listening to your squad mates chattering amongst themselves. It’s not a terrible game, in fact it’s kind of fun, but as before, life’s too short to spend more than an hour on a game that isn’t a Game of the Year contender. I only spent $4 on it for God’s sake.

Live Stream - The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Stream Production Notes: I had some trouble getting the game to run at first, because it complained about a lack of DirectX 9, then I had trouble getting it into the right resolution. I had to do a bunch of alt-tabbing and alt-entering to switch back and forth from windowed to full screen, but it eventually worked out in the end. Otherwise not much to report. It’s a game that doesn’t require a lot of commentary because most of the time, one of the characters is talking.

Previously on the Steam Backlog Bonanza: Darksiders II.

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