THE BUREAU: XCOM DECLASSIFIED was possibly one of the most vilified games ever created, with many classic Xcom fans having been all too ready to write it off before it was even released. This was because, like the terrible first-person Syndicate reboot before it, the game seems to completely rework the Xcom series classic turn-based strategy mechanics, turning it into what at first appears to be a fairly mindless and generic third person shooter. However, this is an unfair summary of the game, with it becoming immediately clear the moment you turn on the console that far more of the classic Xcom gameplay has survived than might have been first thought.
The Bureau: Xcom Declassified sticks to Xcom's general plot and tone roots, chronicling humanity's desperate fight against a group of hostile "Outsider" alien invaders. However, unlike most Xcom games that saw you take an eagle eye view of the conflict as the agency's general in chief, The Bureau tells the story on a more personal level, seeing you take control of special agent Carter.
The Bureau: Xcom Declassified's single character focus means that, while the tone remains the same, the story is far more robust than previous Xcom titles, like Enemy Unknown, featuring long sections exploring Carter's troubled past. The personal nature of the story further benefits from the addition of dialogue options. These let you control how Carter interacts with non-player characters (NPCs), which are littered around the Xcom central base where you spend a good half of the game. As well as improving the game's narrative, with conversations offering insights into characters' pasts, the interactions also add new side-missions for Carter.
Overall, while we're fans of the more personal touch the dialogue options offer, sadly they bring to light one of The Bureau: Xcom Declassified's weakest points - its poor facial animations. The characters in The Bureau all have a slightly wooden quality, with their animations all looking a little rigid. This isn't really noticeable when playing missions, but is fairly obvious when looking at characters up close in conversation sequences. This is a shame, as the voice acting in The Bureau, while fairly over the top and comic-like is pretty good, with the actors doing a decent job of selling the game's B-movie sci-fi tone.