[PS4] Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition Review
Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition is the definitive, expanded version of the turn-based tactics experience from the creator of X-COM. Check our Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition review!
If you have been keeping abreast of the games bearing the X-COM name, you would understandably be disappointed by the most recent entry on mobile devices (#notmyxcom) and will be looking for something to cleanse your pallet. If you somehow missed Phoenix Point when it was first released on PC back in 2019, then Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition on PlayStation from Snapshot Games, Saber Minsk, and Prime Matter will feel like the return of an old friend because Phoenix Point is X-COM in sheep’s clothing. What exactly does that mean?
If you are familiar with X-COM, then Phoenix Point will feel very familiar. The world has ended because of a pandemic… no, not that one. It’s a virus that has turned the masses into mindless zombies/monsters who want to kill the remaining uninfected population desperate to keep themselves safe from infection. Humanity has lost and fractured into factions, and it’s up to the Phoenix point team to help rebuild humanity and fight off the monsters before it’s too late.
The X-COM comparisons will be hard to avoid considering Phoenix Point is from Julian Gollop, who created the original X-COM, and this one feels like the natural evolution of the formula. For starters: gone are the chances of missing a 95% shot at point-blank range. Instead of the calculations that X-COM does, you are given a Fallout-style VATS system that pauses the action and offers you a two ringed reticle to position. If your shots(s) hit the outer ring, there is a 50% chance they will hit the target, with a 100% chance if the inner ring is hit. This makes the aiming feel a whole lot less given to chance as you are also able to aim the reticle in the hope of finding that perfect sweet spot. You are not immune to misses, but this time around, it feels less out of your hands.
Another change is the ability to aim at limbs. In conjunction with the new reticle system, you are also able to pick off enemy limbs. And just like in the Fallout series, there are strategic advantages for not just going for headshots. Is your target known for covering great distances in one move? Maybe hit the target’s legs to limit their movement. Are they really big hitters? Maybe disable their arms or weapons to take them out of the match. These parameters add new elements to the genre that make everything a more pleasurable experience… well, that is when the enemies aren’t doing it to you.
Those are really the main changes that Phoenix Point brings to the table to differentiate it from its competition. Everything else here will be familiar to those well seated in this style of games. Phoenix Point feels like a game that understands its potential and tries its hardest not to squander it. It does its best to satisfy the genre’s stalwarts and does a great deal to be welcoming to newcomers. There is a tips system and a solid Tutorial that does its best to explain all new concepts and ideas presented. While newcomers will appreciate the changes, not everything is aimed at them. The game now requires you to micromanage each aspect of your soldiers, including ammo count. That’s right, ammo is now a factor you need to keep track of on top of the usual resources.
Before each encounter, it is advised that you make sure all units are properly kitted out for the upcoming mission. Make sure they have the right weapons, ammo, extra ammo reserves, armor, grenades, and medical kits. This allows players to create more homogenized or specialized units depending on how the player wishes to handle each of them. Veterans of the genre will find this change a bit of a non-event as a lack of ammo never really comes into play if you have a team that is at full capacity and all take their turns to defeat targets. Newcomers will likely find it novel, but the addition does allow for a new dynamic to consider, especially when contrasted with encumbrance. With so much to carry, there is a chance that units can end up carrying too much and become over-encumbered, and this will affect their movement. For missions where it requires units to collect and transfer resources, it can certainly get in the way.
That is another plus of Phoenix Point, as the difficulty never seems to go beyond what the players can really handle. While most missions are randomly generated – as expected – it never feels like you will get a mission you are incapable of handling. There is a wealth of content here as your teams travel the globe killing aliens and trying to handle the three different factions. The threads of the story are mostly interesting, but there is the potential that only purists will be truly engrossed by it.
The sound design is excellent, and the voice acting is of high quality, accompanied by a strong soundtrack to complement the action. The visuals are also on a par with what you would expect from a game of X-COM quality. The graphics are of good quality on PlayStation 4, helping the art style, the designs of the aliens, and the world you explore feel unique and not like a copy of other games in the genre.
The game is a joyful inclusion to the genre, but it is not without its flaws. A couple of times, the game crashed whilst I was saving during a mission which is the worst time for a game to crash. Granted, any time is a bad time for a crash, but crashing in a game that needs you to make multiple saves to survive, especially during the save process, is far from ideal.
Phoenix Point is a magnificent game that aims to shake up the genre’s formula. It is clear that Snapshot Games took a long hard look at the usual elements and looked around to other games on how to make improvements, and, for the most part, the team made all the right decisions. Phoenix Point is a great game that demands your attention, and the Behemoth Edition includes all available DLC for the game in a single package on PlayStation 4.
This Phoenix Point: Behemoth Edition review is based on a PlayStation 4 copy provided by Prime Matter.