Sequels get a bad wrap. When you consider the benefits a prime iteration of a game or movie has going for it, its no wonder the follow up that lacks the initial reveal often disappoints. Luckily you don't have to worry about disappointment if you pick up 2k's XCOM: Enemy Within[$9.99]. Enemy Within has packed on a ton of features that dovetail seamlessly with it's successor.

Just in case you are new to the party, this franchise started back in 1994 and got a ridiculously fantastic reboot in 2012. A year later Enemy Within launched and now its here to monopolize the free time of the iOS strategist. XCOM games pretty much follow the same basic formula. Aliens are invading, its up to you to command a fighting force capable of resisting and repelling them. Gameplay is turn based combat heavily reliant on getting your people into cover to set up flanking maneuvers on the xeno scum. As you progress you also have an underground base of operations that you will upgrade to conduct research on alien technology, level up your troops, deploy various satellites and air craft, and in general manage the global threat.

XCOMEW4

It's an involved strategy game series that I personally love and cherish. Enemy Within has done nothing to mar my view and even with some longer than usual loading times, I was delighted throughout my time playing so far. The game is pretty large, but its a premium title and with 0 IAP, it should really appeal to the core gamers that comprise most of the XCOM fan base. The game looks fantastic on my iPad 3, and even though it's at the low end of the acceptable device list, it handles decent except for the aforementioned slow load times. Although I didn't play on an iPhone, I wouldn't be surprised if the only possible issue was load times, since the UI of the game, just like it's predecessor, is quite solid once you do get loaded in.

The thing that caught my attention the most about Enemy Within are the Mech suits, or MECs as they are called in game. Our forum thread is also a mite bit obsessed as well. I'm not sure if it's just because I love big robots, but man the cinematics got me hyped. MECs are huge, MECs are stompy with devastating melee attacks and blistering ranged attacks. They get in fights with other MECs and all of a sudden I am watching a BIG O episode SMASH BOOOM YESSSSS.

XCOMEW2

Alright. Now that I've calmed down a bit, lets take a more analytical look at MECs. You'll have to build some facilities and do some research in order to start building them. You'll also have to find 'volunteers' to undergo the 'upgrade' process. I was a little taken aback at the grim way the game explains that it would take some time to complete the amputations required to prep a soldier for a MEC suit. I mean, XCOM doesn't really pull punches when it comes to how dire the plight of their world is, but it definitely started to venture into a more Warhammer-like grimdark mood, a little more than I have seen with XCOM in the past.

So once you've come to grips with the technological terror you have created, it's time to see how this bad boy performs on the battlefield. The thing is overkill until you go head to head with enemy MECs, but I'm not complaining. With the amount of health and firepower this thing is packed with, it doesn't need cover. Let me rephrase that, it doesn't use cover. That's the balance point you kind of have to have with such a strong unit. I appreciate the tactical options having a class that ignores cover affords, and at the same time I understand that XCOM for many people is appealing for it's in depth cover and flank mechanics. Even if you do use a MEC, your non-MEC units will still be using cover, so its not a total loss of the mechanic. I really like having a MEC for covering open areas and filling spots that have awkwardly angled cover points. For me, it's not a circumvention of the system, as much as a nice little band-aid for when my squad feels a little too exposed.

Powering these behemoths is a new resource, meld. Meld is gathered as an additional objective of most missions with a time sensitive restriction. If you don't get to the meld quick, you wont be able to harvest it. Along with fueling the big rigs, meld also allows you to research various super human abilities to implant into your troops. With a bigger research tree, its more important than ever to be sure to be researching the most important stuff for your strategy and building the correct facilities. With an expanded list of rooms you can build, base management also requires a little more attention.

Some have complained that the added perks you get make the game too easy, but I still found plenty of challenge to be had in rushing through maps to get a hold of each bit of meld I could find. In all I didn't find any of the add ons of Enemy Within to be less than stellar. If you are even slightly interested in turn based games, this is not one to miss.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Maglor

    ⊂_ヽ
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       \( 'ㅅ' ) DAT StarStarStarStarStar
        > ⌒ヽIt rules once again.
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       レ ノ   ヽ_つ
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     ( (ヽ
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     | 丿 \ ⌒)
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    ノ )  Lノ
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  • Based Xatu

    It's sooooo good. Seriously, this is a joy.

  • Alexythimia23

    Playing on the ipad air 2, this runs seamless, theres no loading, just goes from screen to screen, plays beautifully. I really hope 2015 is the year of full console ports...especially now the tech is available to handle them with ease....fingers crossed

    • Jake7905

      It's worth mentioning that I also didn't experience any of the loading problems mentioned in the review. Playing on an iPad Mini 2, I'm seeing a marked improvement over XCOM: EU in running the game.

      • Luciano1084

        Same here, my iPad mini 2 handles this game like a dream

    • Ricardo

      The characters don't have shadows on the iPad air 2, but on my iPad mini 2 the characters have shadows. And it does look great; even better if they would use metal. Overall good game.

      • Alexythimia23

        Wow what a bullshite statement to make, i think u should read up about the tech difference on the two devices, dont get buthurt over a device being more powerful then yours, i love all the ipads and the minis, got them myself and still use my ipad 2, but do you realise of how stupid you sound with what you said? (P.s i dont think you have an air 2 to make that statement, whilst we do have your device to compare the two)

      • Ricardo

        Man you are pretty ignorant as you do not know what you are talking about. I have iPad air 2 and a iPad Mini retina display. On my iPad mini retina display shows the character with shadows during gameplay. On my iPad air two the characters do not have shadows during gameplay. It isn't a matter of comparing tech differences that is why I stated to you, that you are ignorant because I have both devices I don't need nothing to prove to you because you're ignorant when it comes to software difference, and you don't know what you're talking about. Next time try to understand what a person is saying before you just make stupid comments about things you know nothing about. Now if your iPad air two is showing the characters during gameplay with shadows then let me know.

      • Alexythimia23

        Wow the king of bullshite statements don't want to let go of his crown easy does he lmfao go troll someone who is impressed with your verbal diahorea, ricardo. Peace out haha

      • Ricardo

        Confirm to me that your copy of xcom enemy within, on your iPad air 2 has characters displaying shadows on the floor during gameplay. There is nothing wrong with a person stating there experience with a game from their two devices, rather that be pros or cons (it's just a video game). The purpose of me making my first statement was to see if anybody else was experiencing the same thing with there iPad air, air 2, or iPad 3. I still like the game, but I thought if was strange to see shadows on my mini version and not see them on my air 2 version (which can be patched.)

      • Lickzy

        Wow. Thank you Sooooo Much for pointing this out. "I only buy games based on how well (or not well) shadows will render on my iPad mini retina" said nobody ever.

        Really man, shadows? Shadows?

        I'll take "Junk Nobody Cares About" for $500 please Alex.

        ~ end Troll

      • Ricardo

        Confirm to me that your copy of xcom enemy within, on your iPad air 2 has characters displaying shadows on the floor during gameplay. There is nothing wrong with a person stating there experience with a game from their two devices, rather that be pros or cons (it's just a video game). The purpose of me making my first statement was to see if anybody else was experiencing the same thing with there iPad air, air 2, or iPad 3. I still like the game, but I thought if was strange to see shadows on my mini version and not see them on my air 2 version (which can be patched.)

      • Ricardo

        Obviously I bought this game not conscious of seeking shadows or lack of. I have the first xcom eu game for iOS and that game doesn't have shadows for none of apples device, and yet I still enjoy that game. So to make a nonsensical comment, "I only buy games based on how well (or not well) shadows will render on my iPad mini retina." Puts you on the level of ignorance as Alexithymia. It's just a video game, I can make statements about my playing experience from my two devices, even if they are pros and cons.

      • Revolvix

        Shit the bed guys, Ricardo was just asking if anybody noticed the shadow differences, it's a valid question.

        Remind me to think twice before posting on touch arcades forum in the future, I've never seen such knee jerk shit smearing since I joined.

      • Tuzzo

        They added characters shadows on iPad Air 2 in their last update, on December 16th, but you may have already found out by this time.

        And yes, Alexythimia is an ass, quick to jump to (wrong) conclusions and failing to understand yours was a mere statement, not a flaming complaint :/

  • TokyoDan

    Great review. I guess I was wrong about the types of games I thought Touch Arcade tended to give 4 or 5 stars.

  • Jake7905

    This type of game is the reason I own an iPad. Turn based strategy games always feel at home on a touchscreen device, especially hardcore AAA games like XCOM: EW. 5 stars is an objective score in this case.

    • Tyler Piderit

      Yes! The most definitive way to play Final Fantasy Tactics is on iOS currently and now XCOM is completely owning turn-based along with it. Can't wait to see what the future holds for gaming on iOS, especially with all the great tRPGs out there! Looking at you Valkyria Chronicles and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together

  • XianZhuXuande

    "Sequels get a bad rap" or "bum rap". Not a "bad wrap". I looked for a way to contact you, Sir. Andrew, with a correction through the mobile website but could find no way to do so.

    Feel free to delete once seen if that's possible.

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

      Huh? Why does it have to be one and not the other? You can say it either way.

      • crazy dad

        Rap is what people think of you. Wrap is for wrapping like Christmas wrapping.

      • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

        Oh I get it now!

  • XianZhuXuande

    "Sequels get a bad rap" or "bum rap". Not a "bad wrap". I looked for a way to contact you, Sir. Andrew, with a correction through the mobile website but could find no way to do so.

    Feel free to delete once seen if that's possible.

  • XianZhuXuande

    "Sequels get a bad rap" or "bum rap". Not a "bad wrap". I looked for a way to contact you, Sir. Andrew, with a correction through the mobile website but could find no way to do so.

    Feel free to delete once seen if that's possible.

  • armilla

    The score is deserving, and the reviewer explains mechanics that weren't featured in the previous game well. However, there are some grammatical/spelling issues, which I found distracting. Overall, it doesn't read as cleanly compared to other reviews a on TA.

    • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

      Who cares? Stop reviewing reviews.

      • armilla

        I care, because it shows that people actually know how to write and can communicate their ideas well.

      • Andrew Fretz

        I'm sorry, I realize now that the word YES only has 1 S.

      • armilla

        Not even what I'm referring to, but sure.

      • spsummer

        Most of their reviews are full of grammatical errors, especially when it comes to the proper use of commas. I think most of the contributors are young, possibly teenagers.

  • Lickzy

    PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE someone complain about the price so you can be thoroughly roasted by us who love paying money for premium games and loathe the Get2Play model...

    I'm waiting.

  • http://jesse-dylan.livejournal.com Jesse_Dylan

    So does this include all the content of Enemy Unknown as well? I just bought Enemy Unknown on iOS (had it on PC for ages) and feel a little bummed that this is out now. I could have just bought this.

    • VirtualBoyFreak

      I think that not all is included. Check the forum thread, first few pages. There, it explains what there is and there isn't through a 2K link.

      I miss this info from the review too: core differences between EU and EW, as well as explaining what updates it includes.

      I have both EU and EW, bought both full price on day 1 and I don't regret a single cent spent, even though I don't have too much time to play EW...

    • matus

      You need both. The main difference between the full versions and the ios versions is the number of maps. The only included a fraction of the full games mission maps in the original ios version to keep the file size down. In the original console/pc version EW was really only a set of DLC. However the iOS developers have taken the opportunity to include a different selection of the maps, so while all the storyline from the first is in the second, you get compleat lay different levels in each game. The second is certainly better than the first, but if you want to play the full range of ios maps, you need both. Even paying for both you are getting excellent value for money as, except for the odd issue with setting movement at different heights, the games are perfect for touch and well worth the money.

      If I were you I'd play the first one through, enjoy the unique levels, then delete it and play the second, using that when you replay third and fourth times etc.

  • jmasin

    This game is destroying the battery of my 5S. And I regret nothing. I own the PC version too, but I play this one most of the time. Same thing about Frozen Synapse.

    About the price. IT IS CHEAP. Cheaper than the original. Let's remember this is a full AAA PC game.

    • Lickzy

      I REGRET NOTHING!!!!!!

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    Great review! A must have" gem for your mobile device! Happy to own XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Enemy Within on my ipad!

  • Gafferman

    Its a real bumner this wasnt released as an expansion like on other platforms - they even deleted the original game from the app store. As someone who actually bought that, 2K sure has made me feel like I've been scammed..

    • gonif

      Woah, you're right. They removed Enemy Unknown from the App Store. It has to be a temporary thing, right? They wouldn't yank it forever without warning. What of all those who purchased it? I was thinking of trying it someday, since I'm one of the many who can run X:EU but can't run X:EW. I'm sure it's temporary. A new game in a series almost always results in increased sales for the earlier titles, so they'd be shooting themselves in the foot.

    • mercjello

      Interesting on PC it was just a addon for EU and needed the base game. For those that already bought the original you can always redownload it again under your purchases on app store even if its no longer being sold so I dont really see any scam there.

      I guess they didn't want to add it as a IAP expansion cause that would mean much less sales and so just did away with EU or as least for the time being.

      • Gafferman

        Yeah, I can still download X-com EU from my purchase history - the feeling of having been scammed is because pulling it from the app store basically says "haha, suckers! You spent your money on the inferior version of the game!" to everyone who did support the original game by buying it.

        An easy solution would have been to make EW available both as a stand alone app and available as an IAP in the original app, catering both to old and new customers.

      • Robert C.

        Completely agreed.

    • ZarieoZ

      Woooooah. That sucks 🙁 do you know if I have an older version of it (1.4.0) will I still be able to update it (1.6.0) from purchase history ? I don't know, never needed to fall back to my purchase history before, it shows "open" instead of "update" though. Maybe if I removed it & re-downloaded it, I'll get the latest version. Have anybody dealt with that before?

  • theundertow

    Ok I'm in for 1!

  • Irvin

    One of the best games for ios devices and will go down in history as one of the top ten games ever. Too bad it still over heat my phone and drain battery like nothing.

  • Earth Vs. Me

    Pssh, you think Enemy Within is grim just because it MENTIONS amputations? Anyone remember Quake 4, where your character gets assimilated by the aliens DURING actual gameplay? You're free to look around as your limbs get sawed off one by one in one of the most greusome parts of any alien invasion game ever.

  • Robert C.

    Does anyone else feel pissed of by 2K's policy in regards to their old customers? Think about it: we who have bought Enemy Unknown the day it came out for 12 bucks to support developing full priced AAA titles on iOS and 2K, now have to pay the double amount of money compared to those who waited to see how well the first game will sell. We had to tolerate. the bugs, the freezes, the slow-downs, the glitches. And now that the full fleshed out thing is out, we don't even have a discount? Seems a bit unfair to me... We have to pay 25 bucks just to play the full experience, while those who jump on the train just now, will only have to play the price and get the full experience. Bit odd and unfriendly policy IMHO.

    • Alexythimia23

      Never thought about that? You raise a very good point, i feel the same as you now that you brought it up, i tried to download enemy unknown from my purchased list but it was not downloading?? Dont know if it was a bad connection or what as i have not tried since, but now that you mention it is enemy unknown not playable anymore?? If so its a bit of a piss-take...

      • Robert C.

        You can find It in the purchased apps - not on this iPad/iPhone section. Still I think it is a bit of a cop out. No more support for the players who bought the original... How to pay the same price again to play almost the same, but a bit enhanched game...

      • Alexythimia23

        Yeah defo, im surprised noone else has mentioned that?? Im all for supporting premium games but the way this has been done just does not sit well with me.

  • Robert C.

    Does anyone else feel pissed of by 2K's policy in regards to their old customers? Think about it: we who have bought Enemy Unknown the day it came out for 12 bucks to support developing full priced AAA titles on iOS and 2K, now have to pay the double amount of money compared to those who waited to see how well the first game will sell. We had to tolerate. the bugs, the freezes, the slow-downs, the glitches. And now that the full fleshed out thing is out, we don't even have a discount? Seems a bit unfair to me... We have to pay 25 bucks just to play the full experience, while those who jump on the train just now, will only have to play the price and get the full experience. Bit odd and unfriendly policy IMHO.

  • Salsander

    Does anyone else find it disconcerting that the original Xcom App has been removed from the App Store?

  • brerlappin

    It would be nice (though not likely) if EU was re-released with EW's smoother engine. Being able to enjoy both versions of the game (like FTL) is the right thing to do and hopefully 2K will rectify it soon.

  • ramdm5

    Don't play on Ironman. I got a corrupt save error 10 hours in 🙁

  • http://digitalblasphemy.com/ Ryan Bliss

    Get it for the multiplayer alone. Can anyway recommend any turn based multiplayer games that are nearly as much fun as this? I just enabled "family sharing" so I could game vs my kids and I'm hooked.

  • bengti

    Guys any idea what happened to Enemy Unknown ? In the Hk store it's gone !!!!

  • Pheebers

    I bought it the day after thanksgiving, and have been playing for hours every evening. On my iPad Air (1st gen) it's smooth. I deleted EU from my iPad -- there's definitely no need for both -- but EW is enough of a change/improvement that I don't mind having spent the money twice.

    Seriously, I look up and hours have gone by. I don't think this is normal behavior for a 40-something mom...but I'm sure getting my money's worth.

  • Keith

    Does this have a cross-save function? Can a start a game at home on my iPad, then continue it on my iPhone? ... and vice-versa.

XCOM®: Enemy Within Reviewed by Andrew Fretz on . Rating: 5