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The Bureau: XCOM Declassified experimented with a top-down view

by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Jul 31, 2013 11:00AM PDT

Perhaps no game has been so drastically--and so visibly--changed in recent memory than The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. 2K Marin's tactical shooter started life as a first-person shooter, only to slowly evolve into the three-man squad shooter it is today. As the team was iterating on the game, they even transformed the game into a top-down strategy game at one point--a brief experiment that 2K Marin tried (and scrapped) as late as last year.

"Let's not say no to any idea that we haven't tried yet," 2K Marin's Pat Guarino explained to Shacknews. "Let's try and see what's the best result for Battle Focus," which is the primary way players command squad mates in The Bureau.

"Battle Focus was always intended to give you battlefield awareness," Guarino told us. "What happens if we try an eye-in-the-sky view of the battlefield?" So 2K Marin prototyped a top-down version of the game, one which featured a context-sensitive reticule that would let you move units into cover by clicking on walls, attack enemies when clicking on them, etc.

However, the experiment didn't work because, as Guarino explained: "in the end of the day, our game wasn't built around it. A lot of the art didn't look particularly good from that angle. The level design wasn't built to sustain it."

Perhaps ironically, the move made the game formerly known as just XCOM look a lot more like XCOM: Enemy Unknown. And, while 2K Marin wanted to create a shooter that captured the feel of the strategy game, they were losing the message. "It started becoming a game we weren't making at that time," Guarino noted. "It went against the core idea of our game: you are a squad leader and you're seeing the fight from that person's eyes."

The Bureau's journey has been a long and strange one, and it finally comes to an end when the game releases in August. For more on the game, check out our hands-on preview.

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