The Bureau (PC) -> REVIEW
2014-02-12 4:18 PM PST
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is a 3rd-person tactical shooter that takes place during the 1960's and absolutely nails its setting. The graphics and art design are fantastic, as long as you get the game running well on your machine. In The Bureau, aliens invade Earth and the XCOM group sends their best to take on the aliens.

Combat is very similar to that of Mass Effect 2 + 3 - but combat here is much more tactical, since you have way more control of your party members. In fact, it's pretty much essential to survive that you must use the tactical "slow-down" to survive. It's not a BioWare-style tactical pause here - it only slow-down time a bit for you to make orders. You may create, randomize, and recruit agents and their actual looks, class, and everything at your own will and desire. Though, the down-side is that you'll never really feel attached to your teammates - since they do not have personal "Loyalty" missions, to make you care about them; this isn't Mass Effect here. If there's anything besides the excellent art direction and setting that 2K Marin gets absolutely right with this game, it's the excellent tactical combat. One thing that is never dull here is the tactical combat - and this is certainly the best reason to play this game. If you liked the combat in Mass Effect 2 + 3 but wanted something a bit more tactical and have more control over your party members when in combat - this is the game for you.

Even on Squaddie (difficulty #2 out of 4), this game is tough - and this is coming from someone who plays a lot of games - especially shooters. The game actually suggests difficulty #3 by default - which given how tough Squaddie often is, given the number of times my party died, had to reload a save, or lost a party member to "perma-death"; I'm not sure if the 3rd difficulty should be suggested as its default! "Perma-death" is in effect here - so if you survive a mission and one of your party members doesn't, they're gone from your game entirely.

2K Marin did a fantastic job with storytelling & character development in Bioshock 2: Minerva's Den DLC, but doesn't do so as much here. Storytelling events that occur either are quite obvious as to what's going happen next (predictable!); and/or the big pay-off moments just aren't well put-together or is under-developed. By the time the game's story gets very interesting & has an excellent twist, which is somewhere closer to the back 1/4th of the game - it makes the gamer wonder why this sort of execution also didn't happen earlier, as well.

But, once this plot-twist happens, the game drops the ball again in another regard: by spreading out auto-save points, which can lead to moments of complete frustration when players have to replay long-winded shootouts. There's nothing wrong w/ grand, long-winded epic shootouts like these - but it could've used an auto-save, somewhere in the middle or before the game brings out the really tough moment - since the game does have difficulty spikes within some of these sections.

What it all comes down to, is this: if you want a game with excellent art direction; an excellent setting; looks great in DX11 mode (if your PC can handle it); you enjoy 3rd-person shooting similar to Mass Effect 2 + 3; but you also want a shooter more tactical than Mass Effect 2 + 3 - then this game is for you and it shouldn't be missed. If you're looking for a game with great story and characters, most of the time - this is not that game. It doesn't always execute that stuff consistently. The Bureau could've been elevated to a much greater status, if it actually delivered more consistently on its character + story elements, since it actually does often try to emphasize these elements. Overall, when it's all said and done - The Bureau is a solid and worthwhile 3rd-person tactical shooter.

Final Grade: C+
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