Lack of depth and a surprisingly large amount of bugs hold back XCOM: Enemy Unknown from tactical greatness.
GAMEPLAY - This game plays like a tactical overhead shooter with some RPG elements added in. It's sort of like Fallout 1 or 2 meets Valkyria Chronicles. Basically you have a squad of soldiers that you send out to fight aliens on a regular basis. Each soldier has some basic customization features, and levels up as they participate and kill enemies. Not only that, but there are a variety of roles that your soldiers play. Everything from snipers, to demolitions, to support, to assault. Snipers and demolitionists tend to be my favorites, but you'll definitely want a variety of different soldiers in your squad. Enemies you encounter range from the stereotypical "little green men" look-alikes to lightning quick monsters that turn your soldiers into zombies. Not only are a lot of these enemies going to be typically stronger than your soldiers, but their AI is very impressive...even on the easiest difficulty.
While you're not on the battlefield, you return to XCOM HQ, where you are able to research and build new technologies as you salvage what you can from UFO wreckages and alien autopsies. All the while you have to make sure all of Earth's countries aren't getting overrun with aliens. To prevent this, you set up a network of satellites and air support for any incoming UFOs. Should a country ever get overrun, you completely lose the support of that country for the rest of the game. A lot of what happens at HQ is trial and error, and I agree with Kevin VanOrd's review that your first playthrough is going to be a learning experience more than anything else. You'll find out that using your resources one way isn't always the best way to do things.
While the gameplay is fun and can really suck you in for hours on end, I just feel like there is a severe lack of depth to this game. I realize that you can only do so much in a tactical shooter like this, but the gameplay never really evolves or changes like I hoped it would. It's pretty much just running around the battlefield, taking cover, and shooting anything you see. There isn't much more to it than that. Also, the amount of bugs in this game is atrocious. Everything from the prologue crashing and not being able to be completed to the game telling you that a save file is corrupted when it really isn't are problems I've encountered. Not many of these are game-breaking, but it still can be frustrating in this day and age that games as great as this should be still have a tremendous amount of bugs to put up with. - 7.5/10
STORY - The premise for this game is that there is an alien invasion that is threatening to destroy Earth. Once again, I hoped for a little more depth here, but then again maybe that's all this game needs. After all, the aliens are treated as being an enigma to Earth's science and technology. There are a few memorable characters in here, but not many. - 6/10
GRAPHICS - The graphics aren't too shabby. They could be a lot better, but they could be a lot worse. Most of the things that are really fun to look at come in the form of the aliens and their spaceships. - 8/10
SOUND - There isn't much here to review. The voice-acting and sound effects are fine, but there's hardly any music. Just average, I suppose. - 7/10
LENGTH/REPLAY VALUE - I haven't gotten too far into the game, but I can already say that this game will have a tremendous amount of replay value in addition to its lengthy campaign. - 10/10
BOTTOM LINE - There are a couple of areas to this game that could have been really made this a complete experience. For what this game does right, however, I think it should still be recognized for being a good game. Especially in this day and age when we don't get many games like this anymore. It's not the best tactical game you'll ever play, but it begs to be replayed due to the tough choices you have to make and it sucks you in for hours on end. - 7.5/10