Last time I looked at this game I wrote an unconventional review. I also gave it a score of 9.0 because it was one of the best games I played. Mixing intense strategy with sci-fi action, XCOM reminded gamers what it was like to lose a life (with Ironman mode taking us back to the days before multiple save games).
How does this translate over to the iPad though?
At $30, it’s not a cheap app, but it’s a great game! The basic gameplay is identical to the game on PC and consoles, except that you use the touch screen. To do each action you’ll need to press a button on the screen (as opposed to double-tapping). I found this to be an excellent idea because you do not want to lose a soldier to an errant double-tap.
Other functions have similar natural controls. Selecting which alien to target (when there are multiple options) can be done by tapping the alien on screen, tapping the alien icon in the bottom right, or by swiping left and right on the screen.
If you’ve played the game before you know the screen is isometric, which works nicely on the smaller iPad screen as zooming and rotating is done using native two-finger gestures. But the zooming is one of the small issues I have with this version of the game.
Even if you’re zoomed out, after you give a command the view reverts back to being zoomed in. On a console or PC screen this isn’t so bad, but on an iPad with limited screen space it becomes a bit of a pain. Especially when the camera tries to list itself up and over buildings at the edge, which skews the view to an unhelpful top-down perspective.
The other main difference in the new version is the lack of short cutscenes. There’s no more autopsy or interrogation scenes and in combat, when your soldier makes a critical shot, there’s no close up perspective change of your heroic shooter. While it’s not a big loss, it does feel like the game is missing something.
The story hasn’t changed and neither have any of the major plot points and cutscenes. The graphics have been slightly downgraded to match the performance of the iPad but unless you’re very picky it’s not an issue.
You will need the latest iPad to run it though. I ran this on a top-specced model and it chewed through the battery and heating it up more than anything else I’ve played.
Other than the small issues I’ve mentioned I’d say this was an excellent port of the game with only minor changes. Even the “cheats” still work.