XCOM: Enemy Unknown Announced, Series Retrospective

05 Jan 2012

Fans of the classic X-COM games - who were dismayed by the announcement and details from the tepid-looking XCOM shooter from 2K Martin - have a reason to rejoice now: Civilization developer Firaxis Games has officially announced that they've been working on a turn-based addition to the XCOM series for years, and the game adorns the Game Informer February cover. The game will come out on PC, Xbox 360 and PS3 this fall:
Unlike 2K Marin's previously announced XCOM shooter, which sparked tempers among longtime fans for turning its back on the series' cerebral roots, this title is a full-on strategy game that puts players in command of a global anti-alien defense force. XCOM's leader needs a worldwide perspective where threats are identified, populations reassured, and national leaders mollified – but a tactical mind is just as critical considering every shot XCOM's soldiers fire on the battlefield is under the player's turn-based control.

"It’s been a dream of ours to recreate X-COM with our unique creative vision. We’re huge fans of the original game and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-envision a game that is as beloved as X-COM," said Steve Martin, president of Firaxis Games. "We were careful to keep XCOM: Enemy Unknown true to the elements that made X-COM such a revered game while delivering an entirely new story and gameplay experience for both die-hard X-COM fans and newcomers to the franchise."

More features from GI are to follow, but in the meantime they have put an X-COM retrospective feature from their magazine online, which talks about the difficulties in making the original:
X-COM took nearly three years to develop. Even by today’s standards, this is a lengthy gestation, but when you consider that the development schedule for many games during the early ‘90s was a little over a year, X-COM’s ballooning development must have seemed unending. “Microprose was pretty hands-off during development,” Gollop adds. “Looking back, it would have been better if we’d had more people working on the game. It was basically me and Nick doing all of the programming, and I was doing all of the design work.” A few artists rotated through the project, and near the end a sound designer added all of the game’s effects, but Gollop estimates that only about four people were working on X-COM at any given time.

Despite the game’s schedule, not every idea would make it into the finished project. The men in black folklore surrounding UFO legends fascinated the Gollops, so the original design document explained how these suited government agents would be featured in the game as members of X-COM. Players could base these characters in a city and collect information about alien activity. “They were like spies,” Gollop says. “But we were told to take them out because Microprose was doing their own game based on men in black. I don’t know what that was, but it didn’t see the light of day.”

Near the end of the game, the Gollops were more concerned with finishing the game than they were adding new features. “There was a lot of pressure at the end to get things done,” Gollop adds. “Microprose wanted to get the game out before the end of one of their financial quarters, so we had a nearly two month crunch period where we were working seven days ­a ­week.”

UPDATE: Here's the full press release for XCOM: Enemy Unknown:
2K Games Announces Action Strategy Game XCOM: Enemy Unknown in Development at Firaxis Games

Regarded as one of the finest games ever made, the original X-COM is reimagined by the strategy experts at Firaxis Games

New York, NY – January 5, 2012 – 2K Games announced today that Firaxis Games, the creative team behind the iconic Sid Meier’s Civilization® franchise, is developing XCOM: Enemy Unknown, an action strategy title that is planned for release in fall 2012. XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be instantly recognizable to fans of the original X-COM, while breaking new ground in strategy games for today’s console and Windows PC gamers. With equal emphasis on deep strategy and intense tactical combat, XCOM: Enemy Unknown will place players in control of a secret paramilitary organization called XCOM. As the XCOM commander, players will defend against a terrifying global alien invasion by managing resources, advancing technologies, and overseeing combat strategies and individual unit tactics.

“We’re looking forward to building upon the core gameplay experiences that fans of the original X-COM love, while introducing the franchise to a new generation,” said Sarah Anderson, senior vice president of marketing for 2K. “With Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown and 2K Marin’s upcoming XCOM, 2K Games will be offering two different gameplay experiences drawing from the classic X-COM universe. Each game offers a unique XCOM experience in different genres, as envisioned by two different studios with unique creative visions.”

Released in 1993, the original X-COM is widely regarded as one of the best games ever made and has now been re-imagined by the strategy experts at Firaxis Games. XCOM: Enemy Unknown will expand on that legacy with an entirely new invasion story, enemies and technologies to fight aliens and defend Earth. Players will control the fate of the human race through researching alien technologies, creating and managing a fully operational base, planning combat missions and controlling soldier movement in battle.

“It’s been a dream of ours to recreate X-COM with our unique creative vision. We’re huge fans of the original game and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-envision a game that is as beloved as X-COM,” said Steve Martin, president of Firaxis Games. “We were careful to keep XCOM: Enemy Unknown true to the elements that made X-COM such a revered game while delivering an entirely new story and gameplay experience for both die-hard X-COM fans and newcomers to the franchise.”

To learn more about XCOM: Enemy Unknown, gamers can pick up the latest issue of Game Informer Magazine, which currently has the worldwide exclusive cover story on the title. The story is rich with game details, including gameplay impressions, a first look at four of the alien enemy types, insight into combat strategies and tactics, the new base setup and more.

Players who wish to experience the original X-COM titles can do so by purchasing them on Steam. Please visit www.steampowered.com.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown will be available in fall 2012 for Games for Windows, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is not yet rated by the ESRB. For more information, please visit www.xcom.com.

2K Games is a division of 2K, a publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO).

About Firaxis Games

Firaxis Games™ is one of the world’s premier game development studios, and home of legendary designer Sid Meier. Firaxis has developed some of the most successful and award-winning computer and video games on the market today including: Sid Meier’s Civilization® Revolution™ for console, iPhone®, iPod touch®, iPad® and Nintendo DS, 2005 PC Game of the Year - Sid Meier’s Civilization IV®, the expansions Civilization IV: Warlords®, Civilization IV: Beyond The Sword™, and Civilization IV: Colonization™, the blockbuster Sid Meier’s Civilization® III series, Sid Meier’s Pirates!® (PC, Xbox® and PSP®), Sid Meier’s SimGolf™ and Sid Meier’s Railroads!™. Firaxis legacy titles include the Sid Meier's Civil War Series! ™ (Gettysburg!, Antietam!, and South Mountain), and the Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri® series. In 2005, Firaxis Games was acquired by Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., joining its 2K publishing label. The company has just released Sid Meier’s Civilization® V for the PC to great critical acclaim, as well as Sid Meier’s Civilization World ™, for the Facebook platform.

About Take-Two Interactive Software

Headquartered in New York City, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. is a leading developer, marketer and publisher of interactive entertainment for consumers around the globe. The Company develops and publishes products through its two wholly-owned labels Rockstar Games and 2K, which publishes its titles under the 2K Games, 2K Sports and 2K Play brands. Our products are designed for console systems, handheld gaming systems and personal computers, including smartphones and tablets, and are delivered through physical retail, digital download, online platforms and cloud streaming services. The Company’s common stock is publicly traded on NASDAQ under the symbol TTWO. For more corporate and product information please visit our website at http://www.take2games.com.