The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Box Art(http://www.thebureau-game.com/us/)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is the newest addition to the XCOM series. Unlike its predecessor, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is not a overhead strategy game like its predecessors.  Through a long history of altering development changes from 2006 to 2013, the game finally materialized this year.  The Bureau departs from its origin by taking players back to the early days of XCOM in the 1960’s with as a strategy third person shooter.  With an overhaul in gameplay style and story time period, The Bureau focuses the player on action and strategy in the mix.  The result is a great strategy shooter expanding on the XCOM history.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Box ArtThe Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Logo(http://www.thebureau-game.com/us/)  Rated M for Mature by ESRB.  The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is the newest addition to the XCOM series. Unlike its predecessor, The Bureau: XCOM Declassified is not a overhead strategy game like its predecessors.  Through a long history of altering development changes from 2006 to 2013, the game finally materialized this year.  The Bureau departs from its origin by taking players back to the early days of XCOM in the 1960’s with as a strategy third person shooter.  With an overhaul in gameplay style and story time period, The Bureau focuses the player on action and strategy in the mix.  The result is a great strategy shooter expanding on the XCOM history.



Presentation:
The Bureau takes place in 1962 when gentlemen still wear an immaculate attire with a hat and a tie.  The main character, William Carter, is a washed out CIA agent with a tragic past that is en-route in delivering a suitcase.  During his assignment, he was shot by a mysterious woman and healed immediately by the mysterious content of the briefcase.  Upon his escape, he realize the military base he was situated in was under attack by and alien force. With the help from a survivor on the base, he find himself recruited by the government organization, The Bureau.  This organization’s duty act as the last line of defense to respond to any enemy attack attempting to take over United States.  Since the timing of the story is during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis where the tension between Soviet Union and United States are on high alert, the organizations was suppose to created for a Soviet Union attack.  Under the circumstances, the enemy is now an alien race.  Now, Carter and the Bureau must investigate and fight of this enemy alien race from taking over the United States and the World.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots

Graphics:
The Bureau is easily one of the most beautiful game in the XCOM series.  The environment and objects are beautifully sculpted.  The environments during each mission varies widely from small towns with town halls and boutique shops, rural areas with forest and campsites, and futuristic alien outpost with metallic walls and structures.  Each location has it specialized lighting and effects like cone shaped lighting shining into buildings to neon moving lights on equipments panels.  The objects details and colors are also crafted with the utmost attention from the braided flex hose on the futuristic backpacks to the chrome trims of cars on streets. Every objects detail and color paints a part of the story about the 1960’s era.  It paint a similar feel as LA Noire.  The Animation of the characters and aliens are very fluid and life like.  Even during the conversations between the characters reflect the each details from superb facial animations, wandering and blinking eyes, and natural head movements.  Still, there were a few graphical problems like screen and object tearing, flickering textures, and muddy background.  Nevertheless, these problems are only minor nuisance compared to the overall good quality to this game.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots

Sound:
The musical soundtrack for The Bureau was stroll down memory lane for the audience into 1960s.  From the electric guitar music from the Shadows to Doo-wop music from Stompy Jones,  you will feel like have walked into a malt shop.  The notable ambience music also changes as you venture  from eerie to suspenseful action sequences.  The sound effects has a heavy influence from 1960’s radio and television shows.  Old telegraphic and electronics humming, projector reel motor buzzing, and alien transmission sounds are only a few of the reminisce audio effects you will find throughout the game that enhance your experience.  The sound effect placement is superb in the this game.  Even with a pair of stereo headphones, I can easily pinpoint the locations of my fallen team members or shot fired from the enemy.  These effects goes without a question when paired with a surround sound setup.  As for the voice acting shines with overall credibility.  Some might query Agent Carter’s cliché detective voice or catch phrases,  but Director Faulke and Agent Weaver’s voice are filled with power and emotion that brings the character alive. 

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots

Gameplay:
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified plays very differently from XCOM Enemy Unknown (XCOM:EU), and carry over some of its strategic elements. The Bureau plays as a third person shooter at its core with cover based system. While behind cover or in the midst of battle you can issue orders to your squad mates to activate certain abilities, or move to certain areas behind cover. While you issue these orders, time slows down and doesn’t stop still. So you have to make very quick decisions. Whereas in XCOM:EU, you could think about every move you made very strategically.  The Bureau has mixed focused between strategy and action game. The tide of a battle is determined not solely on the player’s ability to shoot, but also utilization teammates class ability and strategic commands of teamwork. Although the game has a fairly decent and robust AI system for command and strategy, sometimes the AI has trouble sticking to the commands. For example, when you tell the AI move from cover to cover, they might stop carrying out their issued command from the interruption of  a gunshot wound or object in their path.  They will start moving on their own at this point and sometimes get themselves killed in the process. This can turns into tedious task of babysitting as they run un-strategically about the map leading to their demise. Aside from the AI problems, the third person shooter cover mechanics work very well in The Bureau. The Bureau’s  class skill trees strike a similar resemblance to XCOM:EU.  At certain character levels, you have to choose between two skill offered to your team.  However, the leveling of the characters seem much quicker as each battle seem to flash right before you as you issue commands to teammates while shooting at enemies at the same time. The Bureau has a much more linear progression whereas in XCOM the game’s progression is totally up to the player. For example, in The Bureau much of everything is scripted. While you can roam around base and talk to people with the option of some side missions. You find nearly as nearly freedom of choice as you did in XCOM:EU. For the alien technology and research in The Bureau, you will find certain weapons and aliens equipment at certain points of the game as a pickup object or schematics.  They can be used right away for both you and your team as soon as you find the proper checkpoint in that mission. Whereas in XCOM:EU, you must spend time to research alien bodies or weapons to gain their technologies and use future missions. I’m merely pointing out these differences without bias, so fans of the XCOM series are aware that The Bureau is a different style and experience of gameplay from traditional XCOM games. Considering all the gameplay features, The Bureau is a fun and fast pace strategic third person cover shooter with elements of RPG and customization.

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots   The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) Screenshots

Conclusion:
Coming from a perspective of XCOM:EU, some diehard fans might not find The Bureau: XCOM Declassified to their liking with less in depth strategies and the change from classic over head strategy game.    However, this is a superb game if you view it as a union between third person shooter and strategy with the styling of LA Noire.   There is also a wonderfully crafted story with twist and turns throughout the plot that give XCOM fans a glimpse of XCOM universe from the past.  There is not another title available that offer all these elements and present in a quality manner in one gaming experience.  Although the game has some minor issues here and there,  The Bureau is an enjoyable strategic third person shooter without a doubt.  Fan of the XCOM universe should definitely give this game a try and view it with a new perspective to truly appreciate this game.  Gamers new to the series will be graced with good action oriented gameplay and a strong story that gives perspective about XCOM series and universe.

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