Development of this game has been lengthy, and strained, at best. When a new XCOM title was announced at E3 2010 gamers the world over were overjoyed to hear the classic PC strategy game was making a return - but that was short lived when it was announced that XCOM would in fact be a reimagining of the franchise as a shooter, and only on PC and XBox 360.
It was two years before a strategy game was also announced, and XCOM: Enemy Unknown was released in late 2012 to critical acclaim (we gave it a solid 92% in our review available here). Now, in mid-2013 attention turns back to that originally announced FPS, now called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, which is also about to hit the Playstation 3.
The Bureau is a shooter, with strategy elements.
The year is 1962, JFK is President and the Cold War has the nation gripped by fear – but a far more powerful enemy than communism is threatening America. Known only to a select few, a top-secret government unit called The Bureau begins investigating and concealing a series of mysterious attacks by an otherworldly enemy. As special agent William Carter, players call the shots, pull the trigger and lead their squad in a gripping third-person tactical shooter set within a high-stakes, covert war to protect humanity. The Bureau's mission is clear – survive, adapt and overcome the enemy threat. The Bureau has been erasing the truth for decades. The time will come for the truth to be revealed.
This isn't just a regular shooter however with some aspects of the game retaining elements from the XCOM strategy game in that this isn't just a crazy guns blazing shooter, but also requires some thought. During the battles you can enter a Battle Focus to slow down time which allows you to command your squadmates to move position, select the enemies for each of them to fire upon (and each can have a different target), and much more. Just like the strategy game though this title has "Permadeath", so if a squadmate falls during battle they're gone from the game for good and their customisation and upgraded abilities are lost forever.
Visuals in The Bureau are pretty solid.
2K Games have announced that anyone pre-ordering The Bureau through any of the participating retailers will receive a bonus campaign side-mission called “Codebreakers.” In this mission, a top secret government communications facility responsible for intercepting and decoding the enemy’s transmissions has gone radio-silent. In a desperate attempt to turn the tides of the secret war, Special Agent Carter and his squad must make contact with personnel in order to bring the facility back online, eliminate any threats, and decrypt the mysterious code. Beyond the pre-order bonus which seems pretty cool the developers have promised post-release DLC which will expand the storyline further rather then just adding in a few new weapons or missions. Expect more details about this DLC after the game launches in a couple of weeks.
As we currently understand it The Bureau will not include any mutliplayer modes. Seems like a bit of a missed opportunity given this is a shooter which is suited to some online action.
I think I'd be taking cover at this point!
Running on Unreal Engine 3 this is a competent looking game which never looks to push the PS3 to it's limits, but doesn't look like some rushed game either. 2K Marin seem to have captured the look of the 1960's perfectly with buildings, clothing, vehicles all looking the part. Hopefully the game runs at a pretty slick frame rate.
We absolutely loved XCOM: Enemy Unknown here at Futuregamez, but we still have some reservations about this third person shooter in the franchise. Having said that 2K Games are no mugs, and we're interested to see how these games will crossover in the one franchise. With a release set for late August, we only have a couple of weeks to see if this game, like it's strategy based brother, is a hit.
Below is a trailer showing off some of the gameplay from The Bureau..