The Bureau: XCOM Declassified

[Review] The 3rd-Person shooter of XCOM, criticised by most, but what do we think?
The Details
  • Title: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
  • Web: Official Site
  • Developer: 2K Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Released: 23 August, 2013
  • Platforms: PC XBox 360 PS3
  • Reviewed On: PC

In the eyes of many, XCOM is a classic game, a game that should be forever remembered and worshipped. unfortunately, The Bureau leaves its companions behind and strays off into new territory, away from squad based tactical strategy and into the realm of squad based 3rd-Person shooting. This game has been criticised often and mainly because it doesn’t stick to the game-play of the previous XCOM titles. To me though, that doesn’t matter and I felt quite good about buying this lovely little title.

The Bureau starts as so many other games/films do, an alien invasion, and poor old Agent Carter (you) gets stuck right in the middle of it. The opening sequence is quite a blast, lots of fire and explosions. It also acts as the usual tutorial, introducing game-play elements in a timely manner and giving you a chance to try them out. It’s fun and the core mechanicals of the game work well. It’s a rather typical affair control-wise, you run around and shoot stuff, taking cover behind walls and waist-high obstacles. The gun-play is satisfying, with just enough gore to make the weapons feel as they have some ‘oomph’.


Burn it! Burn it!! The graphical effects and atmosphere in the levels is very well presented.


An important part of the game is the basic RPG-like elements Your character and team-members can all level up and unlock various ‘perks’. Unlike many games with RPG elements, leveling up doesn’t improve your aim, so you shoot basically where you aim and a lot is simply down to skill, there’s also no random hit chance percentage that misses even though you have a 99% chance of hitting (yes Enemy Unknown, I’m looking at you), so it is a pure shooter in that regard. There’s lots of customization within your team as well, you can hire guys, change their weapons, change their abilities, their names, even the colour of their uniforms (there’s actually a pink to choose). It isn’t as in-depth as something like Mass Effect, but there’s a fair amount of control in there to keep you busy and give you a sense of ‘running the show’.

Each Agent can level up and gain new perks. You can also customise them in quite some detail.

Each Agent can level up and gain new perks. You can also customise them in quite some detail.


I spent a lot of my game in the XCOM base, running around, exploring, chatting to folk, you know, the usual. It’s an interesting place and playing around and tweaking your squad is quite a lot of fun. You can find various bonus ‘intel’ items knocking around too (as well as in teh mission too), which expand on the story being told, ranging from photos, diaries and personal files. It’s good fun and makes a nice change in pace from the mayhem of the missions.

Following in the XCOM style, choosing a mission is done through a map where you can select which mission you wish to embark on next. You can simply stick to the main story, or if you’re like me, you can shoot off and do some side missions, which reward you with things like extra XP and new weapons. It’s not in-depth and strategic like its co-game Enemy Unknown, but it does give you that little XCOM feeling and it’s certainly refreshing and different to the other 3rd-Person shooters out there.

The mission selection screen is where you can choose what to do next. There's a variety of different mssion to do along-side the actual storyline missions.

The mission selection screen is where you can choose what to do next. There’s a variety of different mssion to do along-side the actual storyline missions.


The squad based combat really makes The Bureau stand out from the crowd. I found it hard not to compare it with Mass Effect, it does share a lot of similarities, but I feel The Bureau does a lot of things better than Mass Effect. The squad controls are significantly better, when you enter the planning mode the game pauses, you can change to your various agents, command them to move where you want them, queue up their abilities and then flick back to yourself and commence with the mayhem.

It’s fast, simple and fun. If I want one of my Agents to lay down some covering fire I simply select him, target the enemy position, hit the correct key and boom, he does it, allowing me to flank the enemy position, or even send the other Agent to flank. It feels more like I’m in control than Mass Effect ever did, but then, The Bureau is more combat focused, where as Mass Effect was more RPG focused, so this isn’t surprising.

Using Agent Nils' special ability to take out some pesky Sectoids.

Using Agent Nils’ special ability to take out some pesky Sectoids.


The Bureau is different to other games out and despite it sharing the XCOM name, it really is its own game. It’s unfair to judge it and compare it to the other XCOM games as it’s nothing like them, it’s a spin-off that shares the same universe and should be judged on its own merits. It’s a damn fun game and I enjoyed my time playing it, the combat is great and the little extra RPG elements are great editions that simply add to the overall product. There’s nothing quite like this that I’ve played, sure, it lacks in the XCOM management area, but it does make an attempt and what is there is solid and more than enough to keep you entertained for the duration of the game.

With that said, I do recommend this game, it’s fun and entertaining, and those are the two most important factors in any game.


HD Gallery


  • Good Tactical 3rd-Person Shooter.
  • Fun RPG-like elements.
  • Missions are fun to complete.
  • Good Graphics and styling.
  • Should be more management options.
  • A little too short.
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Nathan is lumbered with all the technical stuff behind CoupesCorner. If stuff breaks, it's always someone else's fault, but he'll fix it, because he's a pretty awesome guy.

Nathan loves tactical shooters, RPG's and Bro-Ops games. Some all-time favourites of his are Black and White 2, Postal 2, the Rainbow Six series and Pokemon. He also loves playing guitar and fishing with his dad, when Lozzy isn't busy making him do stuff...
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