Strategy games have always held my rather short attention spans longer than most other games. There's a draw that strategy games, whether it's grand strategy (Crusader Kings II), RTS (Starcraft, Company of Heroes), or turn-based (Civilization), that keeps me around longer than a hectic, story-lite FPS or even RPGs nowadays. When I first saw a preview of XCOM: Enemy Unknown in a GameInformer issue many months ago, my interest was already piqued. Now that I've read previews from IGN, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, and PC Gamer, watched the trailers about a hundred times, I thought: "To hell with it! I'll drop the fifty bucks and preorder the damn game already!"
The free copy of Civilization V that went along with the preorder on Steam definitely helped that decision.
You should understand that I had no intention of purchasing any other game this year after Guild Wars 2. I figured that this long-anticipated MMO would dominate all of my little free time and the wee hours of the should-definitely-be-sleeping now time. Borderlands 2 almost made me change my mind, but I clenched my wallet a little and resisted the urge.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown broke me down. Now, for you uninitiated, this is a remake of XCOM: UFO Defense, released in 1994 by MicroProse. UFO was a cult hit and ranked by many publications as one of the greatest PC games of all time. The game was known for its punishing difficulty and the depth of strategy involved. Enemy Unknown is supposed to be the modern remake, simplifying the more complex numbers-juggling but preserving the spirit of UFO.
When the game drops tomorrow, my first act as the commander of the XCOM Program is to rename all of my elite soldiers so that my crew resembles the A-list team of video game heroes. Expect some bloke named John-117 fighting alongside Shepard, Max Payne, John Marston, and whoever the hell else I feel like including. Sure, based on how unforgiving everybody says the difficulty is, I expect I'll be saying a tearful farewell to all these guys -- but if it means saving the Earth from some gross aliens, then yeah, I'll make that sacrifice.
I know that some of my buddies who regularly game with might say that I've wasted my money; that I should have bought Borderlands 2 or just saved the cash and played Guild Wars 2 instead. And, they might be right -- but it's my money and I'll spend it how I like: killing aliens, protecting the Earth, and making gut-wrenching decisions.