2K Marin’s XCOM prequel was originally viewed as the genre-jumper that nobody wanted. It changed forms many times before it was actually released earlier this month. The game is getting mixed reviews for its tendency to glitch and its weak story. But from the standpoint of accessibility, the game couldn’t be any better.
To begin with, players with visual disabilities should have very little problem with this game since nothing is communicated solely using color or even text, relying instead on large, easily-readable symbols in most cases. Beyond that, the combat wheel functionality helps gamers with sight impairments because, when in combat-focus mode, all of the enemies are highlighted in fluorescent orange, making them easy to spot even at great distances.
Players with fine motor disabilities will find this one of the most accessible instantiations of the 3rd-person shooter genre on the market today. It is in many ways a spiritual successor to Star Wars: Republic Commando and allows players to stop the action to give commands to the two squad mates that accompany player character William Carter. Players also have the ability to lock onto enemies, which guarantees accuracy even if the target is moving. As a result, nothing relies too heavily on speed and precision. The only slight drawback is the limited amount of control customization, which means that players will always have to use either the shoulder buttons or the triggers on a controller to aim and shoot. This problem is somewhat aggravated on the PlayStation 3 since resting the controller on a lap tray can result in inadvertent trigger presses, which can endanger William Carter’s life. But the ability to slow down time and queue up commands for your agents to execute in a string compensates for this drawback very well.
Finally, players with hearing disabilities will have no problem with this game whatsoever since the campy Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque dialogue is thoroughly subtitled. In fact, the story is one of the biggest problems many critics are having with The Bureau, but I personally found it a charming homage to the B movies of yesteryear. But beyond that, there is nothing in the game that is communicated using sounds alone, and therefore this game should pose no problem to hearing-impaired gamers.
I was looking forward to The Bureau: XCOM Declassified, and even though there are higher-quality games out there, I personally will always enjoy it, and I think it’s destined to become a cult classic.
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
– Large symbols are used to communicate all important details
– Color is not used to communicate anything important
– Players can slow down time to adjust to changing situations in the game
– Very limited controller customization
– Full story and ambient subtitles