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XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS review
XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS review

XCOM: Enemy Unknown came out last fall for the PS3 and Xbox 360, which signaled the arrival of Firaxis’ fan favorite turn-based strategy franchise on consoles for the first time. Both longtime and new fans of the XCOM franchise heralded Enemy Unknown as a deep and satisfying gameplay experience that didn’t sacrifice the best parts of the series to get it to work on the new platforms. Everything from the controls to the mission layouts and strategies required for winning remained true to the franchise’s roots, which is why it has been universally praised for its accomplishments.

Considering the success of XCOM: EU on the consoles 2K Games decided to bring it to an even wider audience, so they ported it for use on iOS devices. This mobile version of the game recently came out, and for all intents and purposes it’s the exact same engaging experience as the console version of Enemy Unknown, albeit in a touch controlled environment. Everything from the original version is in tact, and outside of a few maps missing, the mobile version of XCOM: EU is a spot on port of the console game.

HQ management and other gameplay remains the same in the iOS version of XCOM: EU
HQ management and other gameplay remains the same in the iOS version of XCOM: EU

What’s so great about XCOM: EU for iOS is the fact that it offers the same deep gaming experience that its console big bro provides, but now the action can be taken with you. The game will run on nearly all iOS devices that have been released in the past 2-3 years (doesn’t run on the OG iPad, pre-iPhone 4 phones, and pre-4th generation iPod Touches), and it offers iCloud support, so your progress can be maintained on all of your compatible devices.

The gameplay itself is well suited for a touchscreen, so the controls feel even more natural in the mobile version than they did on the console platforms. Managing your HQ and troop movements is as simple as touching on-screen menus and movement markers with one of your dirty little hand digits. Your squad members can be selected by a touch, and then moved by touching another area of the map that is within their movement range. Attacking aliens is just as intuitive. If one comes into your line of sight you just have to click on the red alien head icon on your screen to engage them. Obviously the same strategies employed in the console version need to be utilized in XCOM: EU for iOS, but the well programmed touch controls won’t get in your way as you lead your forces to victory, or death (yes permadeath is still present.)

The look and feel of this game is very similar to the console version but with touch controls
The look and feel of this game is very similar to the console version but with touch controls

For the most part the touch controls of XCOM: EU for iOS are spot on, but the process of map navigation is definitely clunky. The map itself can’t be fast scrolled through, which provides for some laggy animations as you traverse the map. It takes multiple swipes to get from one end of the map to the next, and trying to change views feels clumsy. It would have been nice to have the ability to fast scroll around the map, because the slow process of multi-swiping makes the game feel sluggish at times, and exposes some of its mobile weaknesses.

The other aspect of XCOM: EU for iOS that falls short of the console version is its graphics. There’s definitely a noticeable hit in regards to the textures and overall clarity of the game. In-game text needs to be read with a magnifying glass on smaller iOS devices, and some of the lines in the game seem jagged and blurred. Although, for a mobile game the graphics are more than acceptable, so there’s nothing to really worry about on the visuals front.

On the iPhone mission briefings get hard to read
On the iPhone mission briefings get hard to read

At $19.99 XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS may be a little too pricey for gamers who already bought the game for a console, but if you loved the charm of it on your game machine, then you’ll definitely appreciate its mobile version. The easy to use touch controls and deep turn based strategy tactics make this app one of the greatest mobile ports of a console title ever released. If you can swing the relatively high-cost (does eliminate any need for in-app purchase gimmicks though) this game is definitely worth a purchase, because everything from the console version is present, but in a mobile gaming presentation that just feels right.

Link to buy XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS

[schema type=”review” name=”XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS | Review Summary” description=”The Awesome: Same experience as console version in mobile form, Touch controls, Addictive | The Not so Awesome: Relatively high price tag, Map navigation feels clunky” rev_name=”XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS” rev_body=”At $19.99 XCOM: Enemy Unknown for iOS may be a little too pricey for gamers who already bought the game for a console, but if you loved the charm of it on your game machine, then you’ll definitely appreciate its mobile version. The easy to use touch controls and deep turn based strategy tactics make this app one of the greatest mobile ports of a console title ever released.” author=”Matt Heywood” pubdate=”2013-06-30″ user_review=”9″ min_review=”0″ max_review=”10″ ]

The reviewer paid for a copy of this game for review purposes on the iOS platform.

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Tags : Game ReviewMobile GamingXCOM Enemy Unknown
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he's not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB's Star Wars Time podcast show.