Maybe you're a fan of the original X-Com and met today's news of the upcoming XCom: Enemy Unknown strategy title with great joy. Maybe you don't know anything about the X-Com legacy and don't know what the hubbub about either game is about. Which XCom is for you, then?
2K Games says both of them. In a statement released after the game's announcement, the publisher points out the differences and connection between the upcoming games bearing the XCom name:
"2K Marin's XCOM and Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown are two different games that draw from the classic XCOM universe. Each game offers a unique XCOM experience in different genres, as envisioned by two different studios with unique creative visions. 2K Marin's XCOM is a tactical squad based shooter, offering boots-on-the-ground action through the experience of an XCOM agent leading a team into combat against a dangerous, unknown enemy threat. 2K Marin's XCOM is a character driven experience and offers a look at the origin of the XCOM organization as it faces its first threat from outside our world.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown, currently in development at Firaxis Games, is an action strategy title that will be instantly recognizable to fans of the original XCOM, while offering a ground-breaking gameplay experience for today's console and PC gamers. With equal emphasis on deep strategy and intense tactical combat, XCOM: Enemy Unknown puts players in control of the entire XCOM organization, managing resources, improving technologies, and overseeing their combat strategies and individual unit tactics, while battling a terrifying alien invasion around the globe. Released in 1993, the original XCOM is widely regarded as one of the best games ever made and has now been re-imagined by the strategy masterminds at Firaxis Games."
Now, you might interpret some bet-hedging in those paragraphs, since the FPS reboot of XCom riled up players who wanted an update to the original's methodical turn-based play. But, it seems like 2K's trying to avoid any intimation of a misstep while making a "different-strokes-for-different-folks" argument at the same time. All the management mechanics of a Civilization-style RTS game won't necessarily give you time to learn about characters' backstories or relationships and a single-player shooter doesn't communicate the scope of an alien invasion. So, 2K might have a point on what their menu of XCom has to offer
The most intriguing thing to me is the hint of chronological connection in 2K's remarks. FPS XCom happens in the 1950s and chronicles the early days of the alien warfare governmental agency. RTS Enemy Unknown—with its modern cars and military gear—appears to happen in the present-day or near-future.
In the coming weeks, 2K's probably going to talk about how the two XCom titles interconnect and they'll probably make it sound as if that was by design from deep in the franchise's development cycle. The only way to find out how well that gambit succeeds will be to buy both games. And that's exactly what they want.