The Bureau: XCOM Declassified has had a tumultuous journey. At E3 2010, 2K Games announced that it was working with developer 2K Australia to bring gamers XCOM, a first-person survivor horror game based on the beloved X-COM franchise. Needless to say, the pitch was not well received since nostalgic fans and former X-COM developers feared the game would grow too far from the series’ RTS roots and become another run of the mill shooter.
Not long after that, 2K Games announced its other project, XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The separate title would be developed by Firaxis Games and stay true to X-COM’s strategy form, offering fans a more appetizing way to satiate their X-COM hunger. As a result, interest in 2K Games’ first-person shooter plummeted in the following years, and like a doomed sectoid, the game retreated into the shadows. Little did we know, 2K Games was mounting a counter-attack against the dissenting voices.
Last month, the company finally shed light on its precarious shooter title, now called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. XCOM: Enemy Unknown received rave reviews http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/xcom-enemy-unknown when it released last October and 2K Games has wisely taken note.
Being developed by 2K Marin and banking on the success of Enemy Unknown’s unforgiving strategic combat, the spinoff now features third-person tactical gameplay. Like Enemy Unknown, the The Bureau will rely heavily on calculated, squad-based combat and include customization and permanent death for squad members. The combat of Enemy Unknown was universally praised by critics and 2K Games is making a smart decision by following their own lead and appealing to the game’s many fans.
The Bureau will also try to attract newcomers by having a more engaging presentation. Players will step into the shoes of FBI special agent William Carter as he works to stop an extraterrestrial threat during the inception of the X-COM organization. The plot will be more progressive than Enemy Unknown’s and the narrative will be reflective of the 1960s America time and setting. Since story will be more of a focus for The Bureau, 2K Marin is adding dialogue trees that impact many facets of the reactive world differently, resulting in a branching narrative with multiple endings.
Many are worried that The Bureau will ultimately be a generic third-person shooter since it started as a first-person survival horror game. That judgement may be premature and unwarranted, however, because 2K Marin is said to be working closely with Firaxis Games on development, and contrary to the dissenters’ beliefs, the varied narrative and focus on strategic gunplay should make The Bureau: XCOM Declassified one of the more refreshing games of the year when it releases on August 20th.
For more information, check out the video preview http://www.ign.com/videos/2013/05/10/the-evolution-of-the-bureau-xcom-declassified and developer interview http://www.gameinformer.com/b/news/archive/2013/05/24/the-bureaus-lead-narrative-designer-on-his-influences-the-future-and-infusing-rpg-into-a-shooter.aspx that both touch on the evolution of The Bureau.