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The Bureau is a mediocre action game that sullies XCOM's good name

Alex Rubens | Aug. 26, 2013
Stay clear of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, it's nothing but a cash-in on its turn-based predecessor's name.

Wrestling with outdated technology
See, I thought I might have traveled back in time against my will because whenever I died and chose to reload from my last checkpoint, the game selected an older checkpoint that was hours behind my current progress, forcing me to manually reload the last autosave that I could find. It didn't make sense and only added added to my sense that The Bureau was frustrating me on purpose.

This little saving snafu, as frustrating as it was during my review period, is far more forgivable than the seemingly foolish design choices that led to The Bureau's nonsensical weapon swapping and cover systems. The button to reload your current weapon and pick up a new one is the same, for example, and with the ground consistently covered in weapons of fallen enemies, I constantly found my character picking up whatever random weapon was lying around whenever I tried to reload my weapon of choice, which fell to the ground instead. The button to make your character dive for cover is the same button that makes him sprint, so it's not uncommon for you to die unfairly as your character tries to bounce into and out of a random hiding place while you're trying desperately to charge an enemy soldier. It's nothing short of infuriating, especially when paired with the problems previously mentioned.

All of this could be forgiven if the story was somewhat intriguing or even comprehensible, but alas, it goes off the rails in a pretty unattractive way. It's too bad, because near the end of The Bureau combat finally starts to become fun and challenging, as you finally have enough powers to effectively chain together attacks using your squad members' different abilities. Right about then, the plot takes so many confusing and superfluous twists that I found it almost impossible to care about finishing the fight for Earth.

Bottom Line
Unless you're really jonesing for some basic third-person combat against alien scum in a beautiful alternate history of '60s-era America, avoid The Bureau. It's filled with uninteresting characters, troublesome controls and seemingly pointless fetch quests that somehow help mankind rid Earth of a space alien menace. The Bureau: XCOM Declassified feels like a mediocre shooter aimed at pulling in fans of the classic turn-based series with the false promise of a great, original take on classic XCOM gameplay, and that's downright insulting.

 

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