"The Bureau: XCOM Declassified" (2K Games, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, $59.99; for PC, $49.99) boils down to one guy stopping the apocalypse. He's William Carter, a government special agent with a sketchy past and an alcohol problem, but once aliens invade Earth he's chosen to lead the defense.
"The Bureau" takes place in 1962, so Carter doesn't have Sam Fisher's state-of-the-art weaponry. He does have some paranormal gifts, though, like the ability to levitate enemies, and he can grab the aliens' nifty new laser weapons.
He can also control two other soldiers by calling up a menu, clicking on their skills and pointing them in the right direction. As your squadmates gain experience they can deploy new devices like turrets and shields, while Carter can hang back and play sniper or go in the opposite direction to flank the enemy. Despite the intriguing tactical angle, however, the missions still become predictable, settling into an obvious attack-reload-attack rhythm.
Last year's "XCOM: Enemy Unknown" revived a beloved strategy classic and found an enthusiastic audience. "The Bureau" tries to graft some of that game's elements onto the overpopulated third-person shooter genre. That's not a bad idea - but XCOM fans expecting a more cerebral campaign will be disappointed. Two stars.