Xcom is a first-person shooter but the new dev diary from 2K Games suggest that it might be a lot closer to the original X-Com games that we thought.

In the minds of many fans, turning the great X-Com franchise into a first-person shooter is rather akin to turning fine French wine into crap. Bit of a rough analogy there maybe, but the point is this: putting the X-Com name on a wholly different and entirely unrelated game does not make it X-Com. But it might be enough to make it Xcom, which according to Lead Designer Jonathan Pelling “adheres to the tenets of what made the original game so special.”

“Our telling of Xcom is an origin story,” he explained in the newly-released Xcom dev diary. “It’s about experiencing the origins of this organization from a really zoomed-in and boots-on-the-ground perspective.”

“This organization” is a precursor to the global agency that battled alien invaders in the original games, established to fight a more localized infiltration of the United States. But while the new title is built on more personalized, up-front close encounters, there will still be numerous strategic elements which may, if all goes well, give old-time X-Com fans a reason to show up. Players will recruit and manage agents, upgrading and improving their abilities as the game progresses, and a “research economy” will provide opportunities to even the odds against the enemy but also force players to make choices about what to focus on and what to let slide.

The map room, which should sound familiar to anyone who played the earlier games, will display emergency situations as the occur across the U.S., and these too will force players to make choices. “There are backbone missions that drive the plot forward and there are dozens of other kind of strategic opportunities that pop up,” said Narrative Director Jordan Thomas. “If you take one, you may lose the other.”

It’s still not the X-Com I was hoping for and all this X-Com/Xcom business is getting tiresome, but it sounds like the game might be worth a fair shake in its own right. At the very least, it’s something worth keeping an eye on. Xcom is scheduled to come out on March 6, 2012, for the PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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