What Came First, The XCOM Or The Game?

I paid a visit to 2K Marin's Canberra offices last week to have a chat with the developers of the upcoming XCOM reboot for the 360 and PC. And there was really only one question I wanted to ask.

As a big fan of the old series, and someone more than a little disappointed to see the turn it had taken, I wanted to know what had came first for 2K? Was this already a pre-existing game concept that's simply had the XCOM brand slapped on it, or did the XCOM license come first, and this game was built around it?

Turns out it's a bit of both, some of the existing ideas making into a game that's also been shaped by X-Com hallmarks like research.

"We've been working on this game on and off for around five years now", Jonathan Pelling, creative director at the studio, tells us. "Before BioShock 2, before BioShock."

"It gave us a chance to implement a lot of ideas in the first-person shooter space we've wanted to introduce for some time now. Make this game a new kind of FPS, something that's never been tried in the genre before."

"So when the chance came to use the XCOM license, it was a great opportunity to take some of those game ideas and blend everything together, taking everything we thought was important from the old X-Com to make something new for those who had never played that game before."

It's not an answer that will satisfy angry old-time fans hoping for a more literal update, but in the long run, I think that may work in the game's favour. The demo I saw - which is the same one Brian saw at E3 - doesn't feel like an XCOM game, not one tiny bit.

I didn't sit there noticing homages to the old games, or areas where I could see a direct lineage. This is a completely new game and a completely new experience for the series, one so new and removed from what we associate with the franchise that I think most people will quickly forget it's called "XCOM" at all and will appreciate (or despise, if that's your thing) it for what it is, not what came before it.