Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don't make me think

Time for another dirty gamer confession: I have never played any of the X-Com games. Not the originals, not the reboot. My general fear of strategy games was more than enough to keep me away and the stories of its punishing difficulty did not help. This also means that I may be the only person who was actually excited about a first person shooter based in the X-Com universe. Several years later that is not at all what I got. The Bureau is neither a straight tactical game nor a straight shooter so it is almost guaranteed to disappoint everyone, regardless of what they were looking for.

Tactical shooters are not a new thing and they work as long as the companion AI can be directed without being babysat. The first Army of Two is a very good example. Each sequel strayed further from the original but the game required a modicum of thought and at the same time the AI was smart enough to not get shot while you were figuring out what to do. No so in the The Bureau. I tell a guy to hide behind cover, and he does, but he still manages to get shot over and over while I struggle with what to do next. Perhaps this is an artifact of the strategy titles where being in cover is never really a guarantee of safety but in this game it just isn't any fun. I have to keep track of myself and at the same time give constant directions to the other two guys on my team or they will sit there and get killed.

This will lead to me lowering the difficulty just to get through the game. I like to shoot things. I don't like telling other people to shoot things and then having to shoot the things myself because they have terrible aim. The Bureau would have been better off as a straight shooter. Leave all the trapping of the strategy game behind because there is no good way to implement them in another genre. It's a shame because I like the setting: this is the beginning of the war and no one has any idea what is going on. The fighting is blind and desperate. If I didn't have to shepard pacifistic AI from one chest high wall to the next I would be enjoying myself. Instead I run back and forth between them, raising them from the dead because the can't be bother to duck all the way down. 

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