I’ve been putting slow but steady progress into XCOM : Enemy Within.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’d decided to try a Classic runthrough, and got absolutely slaughtered.  The early game is INSANELY HARD on Classic Mode.   So, I started over on Normal, and breezed through things.  After a few missions of trivial difficulty, I turned things up to Classic again.  With a little bit of progress under my belt, all of a sudden Classic Mode was playable.

It’s interesting, because in my first playthrough I’d jumped right into Gene Mods, and they hadn’t helped one bit.  This time, I held off on Meld use for quite a while, focusing on building up satellites and whatnot.  Things went just fine – I was confronting Cyberdisks and Mechtoids before I had my first gene-modified trooper or mech.

Some general impressions, in no particular order . . .

  • Snipers are too good.  It’s cool and all for them to have greater range, but to have better range, accuracy, AND damage is just odd.
  • While I begrudgingly respect the sniper (in general, I think gaming has bought into the “Cult of the Sniper” far too much for its own good), my favorite class is the Assault.
  • Gene Mods don’t seem all that useful.  I hear a lot of people LOVE the “jump onto buildings” mod.  I have it on one of my guys, and it’s nice, I guess.  But whatever.
  • The MEC, on the other hand, is really good.  Punching things is nice.  Destroying cover is nice.  Long-range grenades are nice.  Oddly, though, it’s no tougher than a couple of my guys who have “Extra Conditioning.”  So much for being a bullet sponge.
  • The extra firepower of the Mech gives me a major advantage over the aliens.  I could REALLY tell the difference when I got it out on the field (by that point, my tech allowed me a Mk. II with a Railgun, and of course I had a squad size of 6).
  • Exalt are a bunch of chumps.  Those missions have proven to be little more than target practice, even after their troopers leveled up, and even before I got the mech.
  • I got hammered in the second month with the first EXALT missions, the Slingshot DLC missions, and two other council missions.  It was brutal, but I survived.  There’s been nothing like that since.
  • The Slingshot DLC seemed really silly, given where I was in the campaign, what it was about, and the rewards from it.  I was barely shooting down Small Scouts, and now there’s a battleship?  WTF?  Further, we down an alien battleship intact, and I get two fusion reactors?  Nothing else?  No power cores, no flight computers, no alloys?  WTF?
  • Speaking of Slingshot DLC, why aren’t the Chinese tilesets recycled into other urban maps, like abductions or terror attacks?  It seems like a real waste of art resources.
  • I’ve been using Ability Roulette, which I also think is too powerful for its own good.  Randomizing the abilities sounds like a good idea, but I think it oughta be a tiered randomization, so you don’t get high-level abilities too early.  I got two guys with Extra Conditioning as their second ability, and several others with Bulletstorm, and needless to say that’s helped out a lot.
  • I went for a long time without re-loading missions, and just soaking losses as they came.  I lost a couple of Majors that way, and it hurt, but I survived.  Toward the end of the third month, just before I deployed my MEC, I ran into a nasty spot of trouble, and actually re-loaded a month earlier.  Then, I got to a Terror mission that I had to replay somewhere around seven times before I got a satisfactory outcome.  But after that, it’s been fairly smooth sailing.
  • The game has been really fun.  I can’t say it’s been MORE fun than the original, but it’s still be fun.  I’m glad I’m playing XCOM again, and if nothing else, the expansion was a great way to get me to play the game again.
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