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Falling Skies

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 3, WiiU, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games (EU), Little Orbit (US)
Developer: Little Orbit
Release Date: Sept. 30, 2014

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


WiiU/PS3/X360/PC Preview - 'Falling Skies'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on July 29, 2014 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Based on the TNT sci-fi drama, Falling Skies is a tactical strategy RPG will be set in the tense, gritty world of the TV series.

Pre-order Falling Skies: The Game

It makes sense that a sci-fi TV show that's in its fourth season would dabble in a game tie-in. Falling Skies takes place in between the TV show's third and fourth seasons and puts the player in control of forces from the 2nd Massachusetts militia. As with the show, the game is set in the aftermath of an alien invasion that has left humanity pretty beaten down, with pockets of resistance fighters willing to push back the aliens.

It's immediately apparent that Falling Skies borrows liberally from the most recent Xcom game, essentially taking its gameplay template and infusing it with elements of the TV show and some other additions. The game is turn-based, and you control between four and six members of the militia as they go out on missions. Some are story missions that also include characters from the TV show that serve as hero units. There are effectively an unlimited number of randomly generated side missions. There are only a finite number of maps, since they aren't procedurally generated, but you can select the objective types and enemies you'll face.

Your team members gain experience as they complete missions, and that in turn lets them gain levels. There are five classes, with each class having a skill tree that allows you to build their abilities as they progress. Wounded members can be healed between missions, though they'll be unavailable while they recuperate. Meanwhile, those who have been killed off during missions stay dead, so you must take care to keep your forces alive.  Your forces can also be sent out on dispatch missions, so you can send one member to gather resources. These missions are not actively played but are a way to use your extra team members to gain resources. Meanwhile, your base can use its resources to upgrade units and unlock new technologies and equipment for your forces.

As noted previously, combat is a turn-based affair in which you move your units around a grid-based system and use their action points to trade fire with the enemy. Taking cover allows you to have a higher chance of avoiding enemy fire, with light cover providing a small benefit and heavy cover providing a greater benefit. Units can either move and shoot, or move a greater distance while forgoing the ability to fire their weapon for that turn. Units have their own health bars, and while their ammo is effectively unlimited, they need to reload their weapons from time to time.

I didn't get any hands-on time with Falling Skies, but from what I saw, the game seems to be fairly compelling. The degree of which Xcom has inspired the gameplay could be viewed as both a blessing and a curse, given the inevitable comparisons that will follow. Without playing the game, it's difficult to judge. Falling Skies is due out Sept. 23 for PC, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Xbox 360.

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