I should preface this with three comments. First, I can’t opine on XCOM‘s maligned keyboard+mouse interface, as I played with an Xbox 360 controller. Second, I edited the game’s configuration files to dial the difficulty up to “Classic” — this is how — so I also can’t comment on the demo’s default difficulty (which was apparently set to the lowest level). Lastly, as the demo only comprises two battles (the tutorial and one “proper” mission), it didn’t give me the chance to assess the game’s strategic layer, or the progression of tactical battles over time.
With that out of the way, I had a great time in the demo. Combat felt tense, fluid and atmospheric. I played slowly and very carefully, and for most of the mission, this worked — I didn’t take a single hit. Then suddenly, it didn’t. The last alien — the last alien! — on the map one-shot-killed my poor support trooper with a lucky critical. As Jake Solomon would say, “that’s XCOM!” Neither did I experience technical problems. Using the 360 controller, I found the UI fine, and after setting the graphics to “medium”, the game ran comfortably on my 2010-vintage notebook (Core i7, 8GB RAM, Mobility Radeon HD 5730).
All in all, what I saw has only heightened my anticipation for the full game — due out in two weeks’ time. Stay tuned for my Let’s Play! Until then, you can watch my gameplay video of the demo mission below: