XCOM: Enemy Unknown is one of the greatest restarts of a long-dormant franchise in the history of gaming; the Xbox 360 version was my 2012 Game of the Year, and the mobile port, which I think plays even better than its PC and console cousins, came pretty damn close to locking up 2013 for me as well. For two years, I was frequently heard declaring XCOM to be the greatest mobile game of all time, proselytizing to everyone who’d listen about its virtues and even declaring it as the reason I skipped out on the PlayStation 4 when that console launched. And then I got a brand new iPad Mini 4 for Christmas of 2015, the game was rendered almost unplayable to me thanks to a terrible graphical glitch that only affects that specific version of Apple’s tablet, and after months of broken promises from 2K Support that the bug would be fixed (first “in time for the PC launch of XCOM 2!,” then “hopefully soon,” and finally “maybe one day…”), I now have a much different relationship with the game.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus, a Vita-exclusive port of the mobile game incorporating elements of the Enemy Within expansion, was released with little fanfare last month, with the project lead for the PC version seemingly unaware that the game even existed. But after a couple of hours with the Vita version, it’s crystal clear why nobody’s talking about it: XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus is complete shit that should be avoided at all costs, and 2K should be ashamed of themselves for releasing it this way.
The problems I have with Enemy Unknown Plus aren’t the same as the ones plaguing the game on iPad Mini 4, but they are tied to the same root issue: the developer of both versions, 2K China, was shut down months ago after being deemed unprofitable by 2K. In the case of the iOS port, that means there’s no hope of a fix for the hundreds of reviews complaining about the various bugs owners of new devices are now finding with the game; in the case of the Vita version, it means the game was swept out the door in an obviously unfinished state in hopes that players wouldn’t notice because they were stoked to finally have a portable version of XCOM with buttons.
But of course we’d notice the terrible frame rate, herky-jerky animations, interminable load times, crap textures, unreadable fonts, nonresponsive buttons, and constant crash bugs. You’re telling me the Vita can’t handle Unreal Engine 3? Please. We gamers may act like a lot of unwashed idiots, but we’re not blind.
But even though it’s the ugliest, buggiest, sloppiest piece of software in the Vita’s library, Enemy Unknown Plus is still XCOM, so it’s still worth playing, right?
If you want to play XCOM on the go, do yourself a favor and download the mobile version… if you have a smartphone or tablet released any time in the past 3 years, you’ll have a vastly superior experience to this trash. If, on the other hand, the Vita is literally the only platform you have to play XCOM on? Move on, my friend. Trust me on this.
2K doesn’t care about you. 2K doesn’t respect your opinions, or the time it took you to earn that $20 they’re asking for this shit port. 2K doesn’t even care if you enjoy their games, as long as you pay for them. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Because once you’ve handed over your money, it’s too late.
Invisible Gamer’s review of XCOM: Enemy Unknown Plus is based on a download purchased from the PSN on launch day. A review code was provided to us by the publisher the following day; another editor who used the code in hopes of offering a fresh perspective also thinks the game is shit. It launched on Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016, but you should just forget about it, because 2K already has.