XCOM: CHIMERA SQUAD
XCOM: CHIMERA SQUAD: OVERVIEW
I don’t know about you, but I like unexpected releases. Let marketers and amateurs of long-term construction argue with me, but if the project is able to interest on the move, then what are these months of waiting, development diaries, half-minute teasers, trailers, and other advertising tricks? Hurry up to get the game in your own hands and see for yourself what’s what. If the developers did not try in vain, then a pleasant surprise will never hurt.
XCOM: Chimera Squad, of course, is not Apex Legends, announced and released on the same day, but did not have to wait long here: the distance from the announcement to the release turned out to be quite modest by modern standards – ten days. And in my case even less – while you were waiting, I played with might and main so that this review of an unexpected novelty from Firaxis Games and 2K ripened in time for the release of a new part of the legendary series.
When the war ended
Chimera Squad begins five years after the events of XCOM 2. Earth survived the war against alien invaders, but the world will never be the same. Yes, Advent has been destroyed, but the occupation has left too deep a mark. The population of the planet is now represented not only by the human race – the soldiers of the invading army remained on Earth and are now forced to look for ways of peaceful coexistence with people. At the very least, but it turns out: when there is nothing to share, and interracial prejudice remained the lot of a few fanatics, relative stability came to the planet. A new reality: side by side, a viper and a person can live and work peacefully, and nothing prevents a second from becoming a political leader.
City-31 is one of the megacities populated by such a diverse audience. The end of a full-scale war does not at all mean the beginning of a carefree life: bandits, fanatics, terrorists, and those who did not put up with the new order — all of them pose a serious danger to the ordinary population of the city. The police are fighting the internal threat, as it should be, and when it cannot cope, the elite assault squad Chimera is taken up, for which we have to play.
Chimera is a living reflection of the new world. There are both people and representatives of other races, some of the operatives in the past fighting on the side of Advent, while others, on the contrary, suffered from his actions or were active members of the resistance. And this is not just lines in the description of the characters – jokes and jokes between special forces, typical for films or series about cops, sometimes interspersed with memories of the war. Leaving aside classic police stories revives the plot quite well: the rescue superheroes are replaced by ordinary hard workers who try their best to help their city, despite the fact that you have to go into battle with yesterday’s opponents, who are completely alien to you both externally and internally.
Alien Tracing Inspector
There are 11 operatives in the Chimera, but not all of them appear in the squad from the very beginning. The required minimum is four fighters; that’s how many are placed in the armored personnel carrier, which delivers the group to the next mission. The four are participating in the battle, but the remaining ones at the base will have something to do. Assistance in the study and development of new equipment, cooperation with other city services, generating income in one of three types of resources, training or treatment – at first all this is terribly lacking free hands, and only closer to the end of the passage it is possible to get rid of the deficit.
For the sake of more efficient pumping, it is better to fight with a stable squad, making replacements only for visiting the infirmary: for example, two of my operatives stayed almost the entire game at the base, having been in battle only a few times. On the other hand, the less reason to use the clumsy interface of the strategic regime, the better, and you can evaluate the “eternal duty” in business during the second passage.
A deficit of another kind, already familiar to fans of the series, is an eternal time pressure that does not allow you to sit still. Here the player is driven by the level of anarchy in the city. The higher it is in each individual part of the metropolis, the greater the likelihood of an increase in the overall indicator, and upon reaching the ceiling the game will end in defeat. To prevent this from happening, you will have to perform various tasks, making a choice between operations in nine districts of City-31. In addition to side missions, which are needed mainly to reduce the level of anarchy and replenish resources, there are story missions that help in the investigation, which is entrusted to Chimera. They cannot be missed, and preparing for them should be better than for ordinary tasks — here, as a rule, the enemies are stronger and more numerous.
By the way, about the opponents. Now, these are not just aliens or Advent forces, but three completely different criminal groups: psionics from the Descendants, religious fanatics of the Sacred Spiral cult, and Gray Phoenix – collectors of alien technologies. Each faction from these three has its own investigation, which must be completed to restore order in the city. However, the “investigation” is a too-loud name: all issues in the Chimera Squad are solved with the help of weapons, even though the tasks vary from the release of the hostages and the protection of the VIP to the complete clearing of the location or defense of the point. We still have a tactical strategy, not a detective quest!
Enter without knocking
In general, the battles take place according to the scheme tested over the years with the preservation of the key features of XCOM: turn-based regime, shelters, a two-phase system of actions, special skills and omnipresent misses at point-blank range with a 90% chance of winning – you should not expect a revolution. But there are several important nuances that, as conceived by the developers, should organically fit into the outline of a police action movie.
The most notable innovation is the assault mechanics, which are used at the start of the battle. We do not forget that the Chimera squad is an elite special force, therefore, it has appropriate methods of penetrating an object: knocking a door, crawling through a window, breaking open a locked gate with a special key, or tearing down a wall without a hitch with a directed explosion.
Each mission, as a rule, is divided into several tactical battles, going one after another without a break. It’s impossible to take a breath between them, the maximum is to recharge (because of this, sometimes you have to wait a while to finish the battle to heal the wounded). Such battles begin with the assault phase, for which one or several penetration points are used, each with its own characteristics – somewhere the enemies will be taken by surprise, and somewhere, on the contrary, our fighters will be in a disadvantageous position. Sometimes you don’t have to choose, but to expand the range of entry options, you need special equipment: it is clear that without an explosion package you can’t take a break in the wall.
The assault looks quite impressive, but only at first – soon the start of operations becomes routine. The ability to kill as many opponents as possible with impunity is his main value. And the notorious atmosphere is somewhat lost behind a very sloppy setting: the characters are not shy about shooting and passing through objects, and the camera, the position of which at this stage cannot be changed, will certainly be fixed in the most inconvenient way to examine the battlefield.
The principle of a sequence of actions has also changed: Chimera’s operatives and their opponent’s alternate moves within the framework of the initiative system, and this order can be influenced with the help of some skills. The enemy ronin, who likes to tuck himself in the “higher” line in the best traditions of shop boors, is unlikely to please the player when the life of one of the commandos hangs in the balance.
They cannot be allowed to die – if one of the wards is killed, then the game ends. A completely understandable dissatisfaction with such a strict approach to losses begs (and what if at the very beginning of the battle the character will be killed before the movie comes to us?), But the developers foresaw everything: the operative does not die right away, but bleeds for several moves. If it is stabilized, then everything will work out: the worst consequence is the need to send the victim to the infirmary in order to save him from scars that give fines to certain characteristics. But the task that has been started has to be continued without the wounded, and in the next phase, if there is one, the Android will take the place of the retired. They can be purchased in advance, hang up with equipment to your taste, like the rest of the fighters, but with the pieces of iron, a similar trick with the infirmary will not work: they die completely,
This very personality of characters or, if you look more broadly, the emphasis on the plot, woven from genres so different from each other, like science fiction and police detective, remains almost the only advantage of the game. She does not look like a full sequel to the series. Chimera Squad also does not want to run new mechanics before the release of the third part – where are these new mechanics? The assault and turn of moves – this is clearly not enough, and the changes in the strategic part are more likely cosmetic. The atmosphere of the police action movie, albeit in such non-trivial surroundings, the scriptwriters were one hundred percent successful, however, in terms of gameplay, Firaxis did not dare to significant experiments and took the path of simplification.
Pros: the atmosphere of a police detective in a sci-fi setting; images and characters.
Cons: simplified compared to previous games in the series of gameplay; bugs.