Had a few bucks left on a Steam gift card, so I went ahead and grabbed Shock Tactics while it's still on sale. Played it for about two hours earlier this afternoon.
It's... not bad, but it's not really anything special. Graphically, it's better than a lot of the other low-budget indie strategy titles on the market, but beyond that everything really does feel like an off-brand imitation of XCOM. Given that it's being sold for a third of XCOM's price, though, I can't really fault it for having less features and polish.
The combat system is very similar to the modern XCOM titles (such as the directional cover system), but simplified in many ways. There are significantly less abilities to use, less equipment to customize your troops with, and less micromanagement elements (for example, guns have infinite ammo and never need to be reloaded). In most cases, the "winning" strategy seems to be to just hug cover, move up slowly, and spam the Overwatch button every turn.
The enemy AI is pretty bad. Enemies do tend to play defensively, hugging cover whenever possible, but they often make inexplicably random movements during their turns. A well-entrenched enemy that should be almost impossible to hit may suddenly decide to use his action walking back and forth (triggering Overwatch fire), or may decide to run out into the open to get a better shot at one of your mercs, or may decide to take cover from a merc who's halfway across the map while simultaneously exposing his flank to a merc that's ten feet away.
Since the AI is weak, challenge is presented in other ways. Many maps include narrow choke points or "kill corridors" where the player is forced to advance along a narrow, linear path with minimal cover. Some enemy units also have unique abilities that let them to ignore the normal rules of the game, such as enemy snipers who can target you from any range (ignoring the normal rules for weapon ranges) and kill your mercs in one shot (ignoring the normal rules for weapon damage).
Both the base-building and map-exploration segments of the game are pretty bare-bones. Base building is very simplistic, with the only real choice being what order you want to build your upgrades in. The world map is mostly empty, other than randomly placed quest nodes, the majority of which lead to generic "kill all the enemy" quests with occasional secondary objectives ("Save the NPCs", "Stop the enemy ship from escaping with the loot").
Customization elements are very light. Your soldiers are generic and personality-free, with identical (but palette-swapped) appearances. There are four or five classes to discover, but you have no real control over their growth. Classes determine what attributes are automatically increased with each level-up, and class skills are automatically unlocked every five levels (with a total of three class skills per merc). The "Training Grounds" base upgrade can give you a small amount of additional customization, though it's mostly restricted to giving your character passive bonuses.
The story is pretty light, with minimal time or effort spent on fleshing it out - you're on an alien planet, there are valuable artifacts lying around, and you have to fight pirates and rival corporations who also want those artifacts. There's some voice acting, but it's pretty low-budget. Some of it is halfway decent, but most of it is just bad enough that they probably shouldn't have included it.
The translation work is reasonably well done, but some words are inexplicably left untranslated or inconsistently translated on your character sheets. For example, your weapons have a "Reichweite" stat (German for "Reach"), and your "Heavy" Class is also randomly referred to as the "Gun Expert" class depending on where you look.
Overall I'd say it's a game that will be pretty underwhelming if you're coming over from titles like JA, X-Com, or XCOM, but it might be a good title for someone who's looking for a casual gaming experience or a good turn-based strategy game for novice players. I'm going to keep poking at it for at least a few more hours to see if it gets any better, but for now I kind of wish I'd saved my Steam Gift Card and just waited until the game was more deeply discounted.
EDIT - Looking at the old Development Blog entries, it looks like the original vision document was heavily revised during development. A lot of the originally planned content was either heavily changed or cut out entirely between the early Beta and the final release.