X-COM: UFO Defense is almost 20 years old, and gaming has changed immeasurably since its release on the PC in 1994. With XCOM: Enemy Unknown, its re-imagining of that strategy title, Firaxis Games has the unenviable task of building a modern version of the beloved classic for consoles and computers -- while remaining true to the original.
"The cool thing about X-COM," Solomon told me, "is that the original game actually wasn't that complicated. It had complex interactions, but it wasn't a complicated game." X-COM's user interface may have been intimidating, but the gameplay boiled down to moving soldiers around and taking shots with them. "That's actually a very easy thing to make accessible to people," said Solomon. Firaxis didn't have a tough time translating that experience to a controller -- in fact, XCOM doesn't even use all of the buttons on an Xbox 360 gamepad or a DualShock 3.
Many fans of the original X-COM praised it for its sense of discovery -- it let players figure out elements like the fog of war and line of sight by themselves -- and that's not lost on Firaxis. But games today have to do a better job of easing players into the experience, with helpful explanations along the way. How do you balance those competing design goals?
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