2K Marin formally re-announced their XCOM shooter today for an August release. The game is now called The Bureau: XCOM Declassified and is meant as an origin story for the strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Enemy Unknown, released last fall, depicts a near-future in which the Earth was being invaded by extraterrestrials. Players lead a secretive agency called XCOM that was designed to stop them. They scramble jets to shoot down UFO's and send troops to battle any aliens that touch down on Earth. With alien technology recovered from these battles and funds provided by the nations of the world, players research new equipment and weapons to make their troops stronger for subsequent invasion attempts.
The Bureau winds the clock back to 1962. The XCOM organization's predecessor, the Bureau, has its first encounter against an extraterrestrial threat. Players take on the role of special agent William Carter as he fights these invaders in a secret war.
While The Bureau is primarily a shooter, 2K Marin is including strategic elements as well. Players will have to command a squad of agents in battle. Like the soldiers in Enemy Unknown, these agents can be customized to players' liking. They can also permanently die if you're a careless leader or simply unlucky.
The Bureau was announced as simply XCOM back in 2010. Its courtship of gamers was extremely awkward. 2K president Christoph?Hartmann said that it was a shooter instead of a strategy game because "strategy games aren't contemporary." This was not the best way to win over fans of the original XCOM strategy series.
2K's marketing slant for The Bureau is much smarter. This game isn't meant as a replacement for the XCOM series. If you want strategy, you can play XCOM: Enemy Unknown. The Bureau is a supplement, designed for players who want to learn some of the series' backstory and want a bit more action in their strategy.
You can write off The Bureau as a cynical cash-grab that milks the XCOM name - it certainly looked like that back in 2010 before 2K announced Enemy Unknown - but I'm hopeful that the game has some merit. If Bureau ends up being a quality squad-based shooter and sells well, maybe it'll inspire Gearbox to take their Brother in Arms series off the shelf.