The first XCom: Enemy Unknown dev diary video takes a look at how the game will be different – and better – than the original strategy classic.

It always feels a bit dodgy when some upcoming upstart announces that it’s going to do things even better than the game that inspired it, particular when that original game is a masterpiece like X-Com: UFO Defense. The worry among strategy fans is that “better” means “accessible,” and “accessible” means “worse.” But the first “deep dive” video to come out of XCom: Enemy Unknown studio Firaxis goes a long way toward putting those fears to rest, showing off a game that’s sexy and cinematic but still looks deep enough to keep fans satisfied.

“The core principles from the original that we wanted to build on was basically… everything,” said Lead Designer Jake Solomon.

The game has clearly evolved to appeal to a more modern audience, with the addition of a cinematic “glam cam” and the elimination of the “time units” that were used to determine what a soldier could do in his or her turn. But that doesn’t mean that Enemy Unknown will be a frantic, real-time clickfest; instead, units have a fixed number of moves they can perform per turn, a similar but simplified system that still forces players to make tough choices.

“They can choose to move, they can choose to move and shoot, they can choose to move really far, and then based on different abilities their soldiers have, maybe they can use those abilities to do different things,” Solomon explained. “It still has that great risk-reward mechanic – ‘I need to run really far this time’ – but when you do that, you’re always taking the cost that you’re not going to be able to shoot, and then you’re going to find yourself in a difficult tactical position.”

And it looks so good! Have I mentioned yet that I’m very excited about this game? Because I am very excited about this game. XCom: Enemy Unknown is currently expected to come out in the fall of 2012 for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

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