XCOM: Enemy Within
It would be hard to recommend a player try the expansion without playing the original first, but fortunately running the game on Steam requires ownership of Enemy Unknown and the console release will include both old and new versions. Enemy Within isn't the definitive version of XCOM, but it's a smart and satisfying extension of a game ideal for enticing players back for a second, third, or fourth playthrough.
Ultimately, Enemy Within is a clever, well-designed expansion that gives the original game much more than simply new missions or a shiny new veneer. The game feels and plays just like the vanilla, but with myriad new choices, challenges, customization options, and other additions that make an already very good game much, much better and more fun. For anyone who found themselves hopelessly addicted to Enemy Unknown last year, Enemy Within should give you plenty of reasons to return.
Like most expansion packs, Enemy Within is targeted towards the experienced. But Firaxis once again manages to balance XCOM's disparate elements, resulting in a challenging and satisfying experience.
One of the best games of 2012 is back, and it might be the best game of 2013.
This time around, the repeat journey was absolutely worth it, and I'm glad if surprised to end 2013 finding that XCOM was my greatest timesink for a second year running. It won't, naturally, change the minds of anyone who felt XCOM was a betrayal of X-COM, but if like me you're contented by the Gollop and Firaxis efforts co-existing and doing their own thing rather than replacing each other, this really is an excellent add-on despite a few pulled punches.
For a game which already hinges its entertainment on balancing the gameplay, Firaxis has done a great job in making numerous changes but keeping that edge-of-the-seat philosophy the same. The gameplay is fresh, the content is numerous and the new challenges should entice both veterans of Enemy Unknown and rookie strategy gamers as well.
Like the soldiers in the game, XCOM: Enemy Within takes everything introduced in Enemy Unknown, polishes it, enhances it, and redeploys it into the field. It's stronger, it's meaner, and it's awesome. The new additions force your hand to make tactical decisions that can and will lead to the death of soldiers that you'll become attached to now more than ever.
Firaxis has done it again, and when I thought after losing an entire squad of my best soldiers was enough to make me quit the game forever, I realized I still had enough Meld to make another mech trooper. Yeah, I had to keep playing. If you're looking to get back into XCOM, you just found the one reason to.
Enemy Within is a solid expansion to an excellent game, with options like MECs, medals and gene mods that make you want to stomp aliens all over again in exciting new ways. The first two thirds of the campaign are definitely improved, but EW doesn't solve the problem of slogging through the endgame.
A worthy expansion that refreshes and improves XCOM: Enemy Unknown in just about every way that matters.