Generally, video game spinoffs of TV shows are not very good. Falling Skies is no exception. Falling Skies: The Game is a turn-based tactical shooter where you command members of the 2nd Mass in their fight against Espheni aliens across a grid-based map. In between missions, you also manage resources, train your soldiers and upgrade their weapons.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because this game is essentially a watered-down clone of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, with cheaper-looking graphics and shoddy animation. Frustrating camera angles also make it difficult to do simple tasks such as taking cover, so your minions are left standing next to cover and get attacked. Additionally, the voice acting is laughably bad: when attacked by enemies, one soldier astutely exclaims “Ow! That hurts!” in surprise. Next, he’ll be telling me that fire is hot.
A helpful addition, however, is that you can send squad members on dispatch missions for additional supplies. Even so, that’s not (in itself) anything novel: the concept is present in other games, such as Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood.
The gameplay is likewise unremarkable. Progressing through the level uncovers more of the map and its hidden enemies, but their feeble AI means they often run away upon discovery, only to cross distances to do melee attacks. They’re also predictable: I returned to a mission area, and the enemies were in the exact same place the second time around.
There’s a thin story to tie the missions together: you’re building a weapon against the Espheni, but considering how easy it is to dispatch enemies with shotguns and rocket launchers, that plot is negligible. The game also claims to reference the TV show’s characters, but apart from a repetitive load screen and a few unskippable cutscenes,it has nothing to do with the show at all.
Independently of its similarity to XCOM, the game still suffers from many faults. However, it’s all the worse that XCOM does exist: it seems so little thought was put into Falling Skies’ design that, for its current price tag, you might as well play XCOM instead for a richer experience.
This review was originally written for Short Game Review.