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Release Date: August 20th, 2013 Movie Release Year: 2013

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

Overview -

In June of 2010, developer 2K Marin gave the world its first glimpse of a new XCOM game. Simply titled 'XCOM' it was unveiled as a first-person shooter, far removed from the turn-based strategy so many fans of the 'XCOM' franchise have come to know and love. Its reception from both the gaming industry and fans was mixed at best. As a potential reaction, 'XCOM' went dark for the next few years and very little was revealed about its development. That is, until April of 2013 when a significant facelift and rebranding effort delivered the new look of 'The Bureau: XCOM Declassified'.

OVERALL:
Worth a Look
Rating Breakdown
VIDEO
AUDIO
Tech Specs & Release Details
Video Resolution/Codec:
720p
Audio Formats:
Dolby Digital 5.1
Release Date:
August 20th, 2013

Video Review

Ranking:

I absolutely adored the artistic choices and attention to detail 'The Bureau' delivered. There was a high level of immersion into this early 1960s time period. The XCOM agents were all clean cut, wearing thin ties, turtle neck sweaters and suspenders. Pictures of John F. Kennedy hung on the wall, and everyone was in favor of smoking – regardless of the setting. The small American towns that are the focus of many of the missions screamed 'Happy Days'. From the soda shops and corner drug stores, to the streets littered with the cars and trucks that made that era a classic, they were the towns that could only be called 'home'.

Unfortunately, the sense of immersion is often disrupted by nagging frame rate and screen-tearing issues. Whether simply walking down the street or fighting for your life, the frame rate would often slow to a crawl, making it almost impossible to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. An unfortunate side effect of any game – good or bad – it was intrusive and become an all-too common element of 'The Bureau'.

Audio Review

Ranking:

'The Bureau' provides a mediocre cast that occasionally take to over-acting. The lead character, William Carter, is a prime example. He is consistently angry, regardless of the conversation he may be involved with. His deep, gravelly voice comes off as forced and not particularly realistic, and is just good enough to get the job done. Although this is true of the majority of the supporting cast, it was more of a comical attribute of the game than a disruption.

Where the voice acting could be a bit overdone, the special sound effects - specifically the various weapons and alien technology – do a nice job of utilizing the surround sound and reinforce the notion that 'The Bureau: XCOM Declassified' is first and foremost a science fiction action game. Laser pistols deliver a notion of precision, while the harder hitting Plasma Cannon is brute force down to its core.

Still, much like the graphical hiccups, 'The Bureau' also has its share of audio problems. I recall playing a section of the game that started on the outskirts of town in an abandoned car dealership. The looped sales pitch that was pumped through the store speakers carried with me well beyond the building's location. Even after entering an alien facility, that message continued to be pushed through my rear channel speakers. It was an odd experience but one that didn't prohibit me from completing the level.

'The Bureau: XCOM Declassified' may have had a troubled development cycle but the changes that were made for its ultimate release were well thought out and provided for a mostly enjoyable experience. When combined with one of the more tumultuous periods in American history it delivered an interesting story that held my interest throughout. As a fairly solid single player experience, there's no question that 'The Bureau: XCOM Declassified' could have made for an enjoyable co-op campaign. Although playing with two others would completely eliminate the need for Focus Mode, it would have made for a nice alternative. Technical problems aside, it's a worthy addition to the XCOM franchise and one that should be experienced firsthand.

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