XCOM 2: Resurrection by Greg Keyes
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is my
favourite video game and I have poured an embarrassing number of hours
into it since its release. When they announced there would be a sequel
released in November 2015, I was pumped.
Then they delayed it until February 2016.
In the meantime, they released this novel which bridges some of the story gap between the two games. The creators made the brilliant decision to base the sequel not on the ending the player receives when they win the game, but to follow the scenario that XCOM was crushed by the aliens almost immediately. Twenty years later, XCOM is struggling to regain the earth from the alien clutches. It will be an uphill battle of scrambling for resources and fighting against enemies that outclass your soldiers in almost every way.
I love this idea. XCOM is one of those games that is meant to be hard. It's not quite as rough as Dark Souls 2 (which I gave up on), but people lose XCOM far more often than they win at it, myself included. I think the only other game I lose at more consistently without giving up is The Binding of Isaac, which is another game I wholeheartedly recommend for anyone with a dark sense of humour. A very dark sense of humour.
Greg Keyes' novel is a fun, quick read that I enjoyed. It picks up after the twenty years have passed but before XCOM is really on its feet again and ends just before where I assume the game will start. The story is simple and relies on your knowledge of the game to care about certain characters and the significance of seeing particular aliens, which is probably fair since no one will read this who isn't a fan already. I had trouble differentiating most of the characters since the book is overloaded with interchangeable red shirts. There is also a romance subplot that I didn't buy since I felt like they only fell in love because she was new and he was the main character.
The action sequences, on the other hand, were well done. The fire fights struck a strong balance between realism and staying true to the quirks of the gameplay and mechanics. I also enjoyed the use of familiar characters - well used and not over done.
The book doesn't spoil any major storylines from the upcoming game (I don't think anyway) and while the book wrapped up neatly, it still teased some disturbing things, like the Contagion, that better play a role in the game.
So if you're like me and eagerly counting down the days (19) until the new game, grab this book to help tide you over.