XCOM gets delayed until after Mayan Apocalypse. Does nostalgia make it impossible to break new ground in games?

Nobody loves XCOM anymore. The game was once talked about with reverent nostalgia, either one of the best games ever made, or literally, the best. As is often the case with videogame claim-making, the impassioned words meant very little. The conclusion is clear enough but the logic behind it seems as insubstantial as tinsel. 

In 2010 Take Two and 2K Marin announced they were going to undertake the hero’s task of bringing XCOM back for contemporary times. The studio, largely staffed by former Irrational Games developers, turned the isometric strategy affair into a first person shooter. The mission-to-mission play would be all planning, making hard choices about whether a corporate laboratory or a suburban neighborhood would be saved from attacking alien blobs, knowing there would be time for only one. 

Each mission would yield its own unique items and research materials that could later be applied to building new weapons and learning special abilities. The game looked like a fine experiment with the form and structure of first person shooters. It had changed genres, but XCOM seemed to have many of the same overarching tactical qualities of the original. 

Yet, the game was met with reluctance and skepticism. Take Two responded in kind by delaying the game, not once but twice, to build more tactical elements from the original. This week Take Two announced it was delaying the shooter once again, this time into fiscal year 2014 (sometime between March, 2013 and March 2014). In the meanwhile, Firaxis was hired to make a more traditional isometric game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which will be released in October. 

Take Two has chosen to refurbish the old model of the game, letting the petrified nostalgia for a marginal brand keep the company from trying something new. The future, it seems, is always one more fiscal year away. Meanwhile, get ready to play the game you used to play one more time, now with normal maps and specular lighting. I’m sure it will be comforting in some way, given how much everything else in the world has changed since 1994. 

[via Take Two