The Enemy Within

XCOM: Enemy Within in many ways is the game that I wanted XCOM: Enemy Unknown to be. It's got tons of replay value, core value and comes packed with the Elite Soldier and Slingshot add-ons for a reasonable price. I'd go so far as to say that the game is worth it even if you have the previous Enemy Unknown since you get the core game and all of this good stuff out of the gate, no muss, no fuss.

It's not just a cheap attempt to cash-in to the franchise either, the Enemy Within campaign is a chunky additional campaign add-on that puts in loads of new stuff. It seamlessly integrates into the main XCOM narrative and provides brand new options out of the gate for your gameplay edification.

In other words: its one hell of an expansion pack.

You get new abilities, weapons, upgrades and a new type of soldier class to combat your alien and human foes (EXALT) in this meaty addition. The consoles (Xbox 360 version reviewed) get the expansion as a stand-alone disc.

There's also a new resource, an alien compound that is known as Meld. Meld is pretty awesome, introducing a frenetic timer-based search for containers on many of the maps. Fail to get to the containers in time and you lose out on the Meld. Meld is used to open up research which in turn pops open the Genetic Labs and the Cybernetics Lab.

This is where the game really takes off. Do you wish you had super-soldiers in your XCOM team? With the gene lab you can do just that, giving them Gene Mods and pumping their abilities up. They get a new look and a bunch of new interesting stackable bonuses...Gene Modding tends to take a soldier out of action for about 3 days and rather than describe the process I'll just say it is a neat addition and leave it at that.

The Cyber Lab gives you MEC Troopers, who are basically cybernetic battle gods upgradeable through three tiers of power. They can't use cover, but they get a wide range of weapons and are as hard as nails to kill.

There are also brand new enemy types, and no I'm not really going to spoil this, suffice it to say they're designed to really test you on the higher difficulties of the game and you'll be really pushed if you're not careful. Just like EXALT.

EXALT are a dangerous human faction, they have high tech and they can hack your research thus reversing the project progress. They can sabotage your funds, increase panic and are generally a pain in your project management.

The Council has given XCOM leave to deal with these human enemies accordingly. So now you can launch new Covert Ops, by first doing Intel Scans to find the cells and ID them. One mission at a time, a successful Covert Op will grant you EXALT Intel - Intel that can be used to find the location of the EXALT HQ.

Once you get that its base assault time, and watch out since EXALT are well armed and have eight new enemy types to harass you with. Four standard and four upgraded/advanced units provide a solid challenge and force you to adjust your tactics.

There's also a ton of new maps, roughly 47 or so since Covert Ops do re-use some of them, just adding new spawn points for squad and enemies. Still, it's a good chunk of maps to play around with and the new map types add some more variety into the game too. There's a bank, a new truck stop, roadhouse and more.

The old maps have had tweaks as well, mostly to add Meld containers, but also to fix some issues from the previous game.

Changes are good!

XCOM: Enemy Within has a bunch of gameplay changes, GUI changes and more packed under the bonnet and they all add up to smooth out the game from the previous title. Second Wave can be activated at the onset and offers a lot of neat options for you to refine the gameplay to your liking.

Panic has been rebalanced in mission, so friendly fire is less likely.

When creating a custom soldier you can now change their voice pack: French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Polish are all viable options.

Plus a whole host of other changes that can be googled, so get to it!

The best things...

It's said that the best things come to those who wait, and well, we waited for XCOM and it was good. We waited for Enemy Within and its better. This is the version of the game you want, and with Operation Progeny (new mission set) it's the definitive XCOM experience.