For a guy whose owned an XBOX 360 and about a handful of games, one of which I’ve played religiously and beaten, the system has all but sat in its little spot collecting dust. I bought Mass Effect, L.A. Noir, Final Fantasy XIII, and a few other games, but none of them have really kept me coming back. All that changed (well, for the three or four days it took me to beat the game) when I was given a copy of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified to review.
The game has a similar set up to Mass Effect in which you lead conversations with several optional responses to choose from. You’re given a couple of agents to back you, you can switch out your gear, and controls are pretty similar. Meanwhile, the story is a mish mash of Mass Effect meets L.A. Noir (ironic right) in that the story takes place in the 60’s at the peak of an alien attack. You’ve got some retrofitted alien gear that you’re using to fight back with as well as traditional Earth weapons such as frag grenades and M-15 rifles. You also have upgradeable backpacks that increase your player and your players agents skills. You can shoot better or sustain less damage or even become more effective at taking out enemies that have shields. The game has a pretty grand set up when it comes to weaponry.
As the main character it is your responsibility to command your fellow agents. The agents you assign to your squad, which can be shifted after every mission, will do damage on their own, but if you want to make it through sections of the game you really have to give them commands, otherwise they just choose targets and start firing while finding cover. One of the things I both hated and loved about this feature is that when you pull up the menu for commands the game doesn’t stop. The game sets itself into a slow motion pace as you’re setting up your team to use special weapon attacks or just to move to a better coverage angle and fire upon a targeted enemy. It’s a bit frustrating trying to get control of your agents while they’re still moving around in the game, but it also adds that extra bit of tension that makes the game as fun as it is, especially when enemies are plenty on ground and air. It makes the game a real challenge.
The best parts of the game are the story and graphics (even if they were a bit clunky at times). I love that old noir stuff, which is why I bought L.A. Noir and was a bit disappointed with it, and The Bureau gives you the gruff voiced detective like Agent Carter as your main character. It’s like ID4 meets Mad Men meets Patton. I just couldn’t tear myself away from the game as the story thickened. Mind you, the end story might not be for everyone. By the time I finished the game I did scratch my head about some of the sequences in the game that didn’t quite have much meaning in the end. Still, the game really gives you no time think on it as you’re rushing through mission after mission trying to find a way to beat the alien invasion, kill as many aliens as you possibly can, level up yourself and your men, and put together the strange puzzle that starts to pop up when things get weird in the storyline. I absolutely loved it. Easy controls, fantastic story, awesome strategy combat, and great theme with cool graphics. I’m hoping to find a few more games just like it. I highly suggest.