• August 21, 2014

"The Bureau: XCOM Declassified"

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Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 1:01 am, Sat Sep 14, 2013.

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Shooter

Publisher: 2K Games

ESRB Rating: M, for Mature

Grade: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

This game's gorgeous yellow hues evoke a Norman Rockwell painting. All appears idyllic and classic 1960s Americana -- until those darned aliens zoom in and start zapping everyone with their ray guns or kidnapping them for fairly uncomfortable experiments aboard their spaceships.

''The Bureau" puts a third-person-shooter spin on the wildly popular strategy franchise, but artistic design alone does not a successful game make. Sure, elements from the well-known series carry over. You still spend lots of quality time at headquarters, where updates on alien activity are delivered as well as research and development on new weapons and tech. The scenery may have a different look and feel, but the bones remain the same.

When tasked to venture into combat, the cover system functions as it should by taking out enemy sectoids and other life forms. The big shift comes from your squad size. Other entries in the series feature larger squads of soldiers heading into battle with varying skillsets that you manage back at headquarters. In "The Bureau," you only have two compatriots alongside you, and they are as dumb as rocks in both their shooting and movement in battle. The death of a fellow soldier in other "XCOM" games was a devastating moment, yet here you just plug in another warm body and await his impending uselessness.

I found enticing the concept of strong-willed G-men with vests and tommy guns eliminating hordes of aliens. Sadly, this release hits the target only occasionally.

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