2K Marin’s much-maligned XCOM shooter was abducted shortly after its early E3 2010 demo, when its post-BioShock approach to alien threat-containment bothered fans not yet privy to the knowledge that a turn-based tactics sequel was in development at Firaxis. Despite occasional reported sightings, it’s been missing ever since – until last night, when it was found naked in the garden, babbling about a change of perspective, insisting that everybody call it The Bureau: Subtitle Compromise, and clutching this: a live-action trailer.
Footage of a boy riding past white picket fences on his way to ALIEN DEATH is juxtaposed with an office, filled with the clicking, clacking trappings of Cold War accountancy: switchboards, typewriters and microfilm. Men in fantastic shoes urgently tap out reports, shaking out their demons into their ashtrays, and other men meticulously cover those same reports in thick, black marker pen. Also, sometimes, alien blood trickles down the walls. Look, I don’t have all the answers:
“The Bureau tells the story of XCOM’s mysterious beginnings,” said 2K Marin creative director Morgan Gray in a statement. “We’re expanding the universe with a declassified tale of government conspiracy and heroic cover-ups told through third-person tactical gameplay.”
The game is still set during Kennedy’s presidency, in an America readying itself for war with the Soviet Union. The titular Bureau is set up nominally as a first line of defence against Commy invasion, but instead finds itself fighting little grey men.
We’ll play as Agent Carter, and direct his squadmates across battlefields in which a consideration of high ground, choke points, and terrain will be critical to their survival. 2K reckon the third-person perspective offers a “spatial awareness” that will enable tactical thinking and, encouragingly, have adopted Rainbow Six and Full Spectrum Warrior as reference points.
“The team has been working hard to leverage core XCOM elements like tactical decision-making and permanent death of squad mates in a purposeful way that makes this a unique tactical shooter,” said Gray. “To that end, The Bureau will challenge players unlike any other third-person tactical shooter.”
Squadmates will be just as prone to alien death as in Firaxis’ Enemy Unknown, but will gain experience between fights and new equipment via research into recovered artefacts. As in the version of the game first unveiled three years ago, players will select which battles to tackle in non-linear fashion from a US map back at base.
What’s more, there’ll be no multiplayer component: “We didn’t want to screw over single-player by distracting ourselves, so we went all in,” Gray told Game Informer. “Hopefully the days of tacked-on, bullet point multiplayer are over for the industry.”
Hear hear. Roll on August, I say. What do you say?