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XCOM dev: Xbox 360 gamers want "deeper experiences"

Firaxis "captures the imagination" of console owners with Enemy Unknown

It's rare that big, leathery strategy games find their way to consoles, so we were pleased as punch when 2K and Firaxis announced an XCOM: Enemy Unknown reboot for both PC and Xbox 360. Splitting proceedings between logistical chin-stroking back at XCOM base and turn-based UFO-bopping out in the field, it's a heavyweight affair from one of the genre's true heavyweights.

Too much intellectual labour for poor, adrenaline-burned, attention-deficient Johnny Console Gamer? Not in the least, reckons lead designer Jake Solomon - everybody loves a bit of complexity now and then, and Enemy Unknown will deliver in spades.

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"I think so," commented Solomon when we asked if there was really an audience for turn-based strategy on Xbox 360. "It's not like any other game, so it's hard to make those comparisons, but in our early testing we've been able to capture the imagination of people who haven't had this experience before.

"We know that it works, and now it's just a question of do people want this sort of deeper experience? And I think that they do."

But wouldn't a real-time title have been more appropriate, given the more laidback, pick-up-and-play nature of console gaming? Firaxis's experiences with the brilliantly scaled-down, crowd-pleasing Civilization Revolution say otherwise. "We learned that turn-based strategy works a lot better than real-time mechanics on consoles."

Don't expect the new XCOM to cater to casual play the way Revolution did, however. "With Civilization Revolution, the distinction is that it was a lighter, faster Civilization that you could play in three hours. But with XCOM, that's not what we're going for. You're going to get the full blast of experience on console."

Look out for a full, four-page look at Enemy Unknown in issue 83, on shelves next week. Subscriber copies are hitting doormats as we type.

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