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Xbox 360 Game Review

Falling Skies: The Game


Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Little Orbit
Developer: Torus Games
RRP: £39.99
Age Restrictions: 16+
Release Date: 17 October 2014

After the destruction of the Espheni’s Boston Tower in the third season of the hit TNT series, the 2nd Mass stumbles onto the wreckage of an ambushed convoy. Among the survivors is an engineer who claims he can create a destructive weapon that will aid in the human resistance against the Espheni invaders, but it will require them to undertake several risky operations to collect all the components he needs. What sounds at first to be a simple salvage mission becomes more than the team has bargained for… the aliens are everywhere...

Falling Skies: The Game is a new turn-based strategy game from Little Orbit. A lot of people have already started to compare this, unfavourably, to 2012's XCOM: Enemy Unknown. While this is an obvious comparison to make... it's no more "similar" than Call of Duty is to Battlefield. These are two different games in the same genre.

Review imageThe one aspect that impressed me was how much you quickly start to care about the characters you are levelling up; to the point where I was keeping my longest serving soldiers well back from the action and instead sending out new recruits to venture into the unknown, and then when they spotted an alien, retreating so that my main team could easily kill them without fear of dying.

You start the game with a set number of slots for team members (which can be increased as you progress through the missions) and it's up to you how many you take out on each mission. It's always advisable to have a good mix of characters so that you can put a sniper up high out of harms reach, a berserker to lay down heavy fire and a couple of members with assault weapons as well as someone with a shotgun/pistol. The balance in your team is not overly important in the early missions, but is crucial to get right as you come up against enemies like the Mechs and Mega Mechs.

Review imageWhen not in a mission you are back at 2nd Mass Base Camp. Here you have the option to enter the War Room (to engage in a new Squad mission, which is the main part of the game, or send an individual member out on a Dispatch Mission to pick up supplies. You have no control over the Dispatch Missions, you simply pick one of your team to go); Armoury (where you can check over and upgrade your units; Recruit new units; and upgrade elements like additional unit slots; Workshop (which allows you to research new armour and weapons); Infirmary (check on the progress of your wounded members and research new medicines); and Memorial (tributes to your fallen comrades).

You can change many aspects of each team member including their appearance (very minimal changes); weapons; special ammunition; special items (which include things like health pack, defibrillator, various grenades and gun attachments; and armour. And as they come through each mission unscathed they level up, allowing you to train them in a special ability which can then be used in future missions.

Review imageI had a few issues with the game, but nothing that spoiled the enjoyment too much. Firstly the graphics for the cut sequences are pretty average, and Tom Mason looks more like Andrew Lincoln's Rick from The Walking Dead.

When in the game proper there are a number of issues. Firstly the comments the characters make after each turn becomes annoying after a while, with them repeating the same thing over and over again - sometimes different characters say the same thing in the same voice. The fact that your enemies can appear and move towards your characters while you are in the middle of taking your turn can be a pain. In some instances an alien can appear and then descend on one of your team before you can react to it. In fact this seems to be the biggest problem; you can't spot most aliens until you get too close and then you've used up your turn and can't retreat.

In addition, it can sometimes be hard to move your character to the correct spot, with you having to rotate the landscape and move the camera up and down several levels in order to work out where on earth you can move to. But, to be fair, there's very little that can be done about this, unless you don't want neatly rendered 3D environments.

Review imageThe game also froze on me during a mission. I laid down suppression fire to keep an alien pinned down and after all my other characters had taken their moves the character laying down the suppression fire just kept on firing. I couldn't make any more moves and the enemy didn't take their move and so after several minutes of pressing every button, I was forced to restart the game and that mission.

Despite the minor bugs, I really enjoyed Falling Skies. It's an addictive and engaging game. The graphics are good and the variety of weapons and grenades makes each mission a lot of fun. Fans of turn-based strategy games will get just as much of a blast out of this as fans of the show.


Darren Rea

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