Developed initially as a first-person shooter and delayed/rebranded/re-tooled repeatedly around the 2012 launch of Firaxis’ XCOM: Enemy Unknown, 2K Marin’s The Bureau: XCOM Declassified resurfaced last month with profound intrigue as a tactical third-person shooter.

Today, the studio released a brand new batch of screenshots for the title alongside its first gameplay footage — which arrived in the trailer viewable below and the 5-minute walkthrough of a combat mission entitled “The Signal” (courtesy of VG 24/7) shown above.

For diehards — those who devoutly followed The Bureau throughout its reveal in 2010 (when it was simply known as XCOM), its disappearance and persistent delays — this is the Roswell moment: Seeing the game in action for the first time offers a brand new to chance to believe, or turn skeptic.

Unlike the turn-based tactitioning of Enemy Unknown, The Bureau places players straight on the ground, in 1962, as FBI special agent William Carter, an original member of the top-secret XCOM initiative after it was founded in the heat of the Cold War to fight Communism, but now finds itself embroiled in a larger battle against human extinction. Narrated by Senior Producer Nico Bihary, the mission trailer follows Carter as he and a pre-selected squad of (perma-death susceptible) companions search for an agent gone missing. Immediately, we’re shown how Battle Focus, a “user-interface element”, frames The Bureau’s third-person combat in a strategic light; players can slow down time, queue up a selection wheel, and then select from a tableau of tactical options governing squad-members’ movements and abilities.

When the action narrows back to Carter, however, the distinction between The Bureau and its canonical predecessors widens. This is full-speed combat — bullets and particle beams flying by the dozen, weapons interchanging as they’re scooped off the ground, grenades thrown as quickly as they’re dodged and cover fled as quickly as its found. Every piece on what Enemy Unknown treated as a chessboard is now in frenzied motion. Decisions are still crafted and calculated; consequences, however, leave no time for contemplation.

The Bureau XCOM Declassified Screenshots Gameplay Preview

Additionally, Bihary explains that squads, of course, are selected from The Bureau’s four agent classes: Commando, Support, Recon and Engineer (Carter and his abilities embody the Commander class). According to the producer commandos serve as a “tank class” while support units act as “buffers,” raising the attributes and defensive skills of other agents. Engineer and recon units, meanwhile, specialize as high-damage-per-second units, with the former capable of dropping turrets, mines and “other cool stuff” around the battlefield and the latter performing attacks such as a charged shot.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown won high praise for the versatility of its four classes, and 2K Marin appears to have the same focus with The Bureau, but the challenge remains as to whether each unit can function effectively outside the context of overhead control. Consequently, Bihary contrasts the two with a football analogy: Enemy Unknown, he says, made players the coach, issuing commands to players from the skybox; The Bureau, inversely, makes players the “combat quarterback” — calling plays from the field, directing squad placement and, when necessary, tossing in an audible.

The second gameplay trailer 2K released for the game today is more superficial compared to the walkthrough — though it does provide some intriguing beats on The Bureau’s cryptic storyline, where the cover-up seems as monumental as the invasion. Check it out below:

After seven years and three studios, 2K Marin will be bringing the final branding of The Bureau: XCOM Declassified to shelves in mere months, in August. How well do you think the game is shaping up as a tactical third person shooter — and as the latest addition to the XCOM canon?

The Bureau: XCOM Declassified releases August 20, 2013, for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.

Follow Brian on Twitter @Brian_Sipple.

Source: VG 24/7