So I got nothing done this week. At least I have an excuse: Iíve been playing Xcom: Enemy Unknown practically nonstop. Thatís good enough right? The easily learned, rewarding to master strategic gameplay has me engrossed. The paranoia thatís induced by staring at the various menus to gauge humanityís progress at eradicating the alien menace is enough to transform you into Nixon. Trying to envision safety in the ensuing months after each decision creates a tension that hasnít been attempted on any home console in this generation (from my recollection). While minimalistic, Xcom has me completely enthralled, but there has been one particular hidden mode that has a friend and me especially hooked: an improvisational cooperative mode. Since there was no such mode built into the disc, with some friends and a little ingenuity itís not impossible to create your own.
Ready for duty
Sharing fond memories of older games of various tactical depth, such as Fire Emblem (GBA) and Age Of Empire II and III, I knew I had to show my friend, Ben, Xcom though I had some doubts on how. I knew Xcom was a strictly single player experience to ring true with its nostalgic namesake, so I was a bit tentative in revealing my card after promising my Royal Flush. I was confident he would enjoy it, I was just a little fearful merely showing off the game in front of him, as I believe it would be doing both Ben, along with the game, injustice as removing the interactive part of video games can potentially remove the entertainment. After a bit of convincing, Ben got me to initiate a game, claiming the description and a bit of YouTube footage was enough evidence to start. Plotting to end the save after Ben once left, I selected a difficulty of Normal Ironman, thinking the irreversibility of Ironman Mode would prevent us from replaying levels, while Normal difficulty would be a significant challenge and shell shocking introduction to gameplay.
After an introductory tutorial bit which got each of us glued to the screen, pointing across the map, tactically arguing for each characters actions, something suddenly clicked. Realizing the overall evenness of the party sizes, and our differing opinion over each move, I handed Ben the controller. For a second his head ticked to the side similar to a dog hearing an unfamiliar sound before it light illuminated for him as well. Claiming our characters and renaming them to our likings, the game got much more personable and enjoyable, eradicating our feeling of ďsucks we canít both enjoy itĒ. By pulling someone else into the experience I get more out of the game. Not only did I get more tactics through comradely, but also some creative solutions and ultimately more emotion. As players argue over the ones theyíre controlling, they develop personalities for these characters, innovating beyond strategic need and act according to feeling, often leading to an unfortunate events that could almost be scripted. Itís probably my favorite way to play, whenever someone walks into the room Iíll for tactical advice to see if I can suck them in.
Welcome to Earth
Using this Iíd imagine the possibilities of a six player game is not crazy. Though finding the players to join the same physical room might be a challenge, once they begin moving across the grid it shouldnít be hard to keep them. Seeing the way people suddenly care for these digital apparitions after slapping on a favorable title and watching their bidding done is hilarious fun and should be spread to anyone in reach of your controller.
Now I was hoping I had an original idea going, but its taken me quite some strength to pull me from the game to write this. What do you think of my idea: Love it, hate it, find it stupid and pointless, did I steal it? Iíd appreciate hearing your answer and thoughts on anything Xcom.