UFO Aftershock PC DVD-ROM
Published by Cenega
Developed by Altar Interactive
Release Date: Out Now
UFO Aftershock, an introduction.
A few years ago we reviewed UFO Aftermath, a game which for all intents and purposes attempted to recreate the tactical turn-based battles that the X-Com series offered. The game made quite a decent job of it too, although some were disappointed that the traditional turn-based system hadn't been used and it could also be argued that the story wasn't anything of interest. Two years on and here we have the sequel, UFO Aftershock.
What's the game about?
UFO Aftershock is set in 2054, fifty years after the disaster that killed almost all of humanity and made the Earth essentially uninhabitable. You and other members of the Commonwealth of Earth are high above the planet in a Laputa landing craft which serves as your base of operations. Your goal is to reclaim the Earth and you'll have to deal with various factions such as the Psionics, Cyborgs, Cultists, Starghosts and of course, the Humans. Starting off with only a few troops and virtually no resources it's going to be a difficult task to reclaim the Earth but by making good use of research, diplomacy, and manufacturing, amongst other things, you'll soon be able to turn the tide in your favour.
What's good about the game?
UFO Aftershock offers an enjoyable blend of global strategy and tactical missions that most strategy gamers should enjoy. The game offers four difficulty settings and even on the lowest of these, the game remains fairly challenging. When you're not involved in a variety of tactical missions you'll be conducting research, diplomacy, training your squad base, building and manufacturing weapons amongst other things and the game handles all of this quite well. Of course the main objective is to reclaim the Earth and inevitably you'll have to send down a small squad of troops (up to 7 can be used in a mission) to make direct assaults on a region by region basis. Once again the game uses real-time battles that be paused at any time. When a unit no longer has an order or an enemy has been sighted, the game will automatically pause and allow you to make decisions before unpausing the game to let the action recommence. The usual unit actions are available such as being able to stand, crawl or go prone. You can instruct your units to fire off a quick shot or aimed shot. There are a variety of classes for your units such as Commando, Sniper and Scout and they gain experience when used in battle, which will allow them to develop their skills and become more important. The unit face panels have been improved for UFO Aftershock and you'll now have access to information such as how many enemies the unit can see (clicking on the icon for this will put the enemies in view which is rather useful). UFO Aftershock also allows you to fight indoors and you can also rename your troops if you feel the need to.
What's not so good about the game?
Those who were expecting a turn-based game might be disappointed to learn that the game is effectively a real-time strategy that allows you to pause at any time and give orders. Whilst this is an effective method of controlling your units (as we've mentioned above) it doesn't feel the same as a turn-based system. One of our complaints with UFO Aftermath was that it was difficult to pick units for missions where you don't know what enemies you're going to be up against. That complaint still holds for UFO Aftershock too. Missions are dynamic in the sense that the enemy placements are never the same and sometimes you will find enemies are spread evenly over the map whilst at other times they are all bunched up and within close proximity to each other. This can prove to be annoying as even weak enemies that are bunched together can do a great deal of damage to your squad, whereas they are much easier to handle when they are evenly spread out.
How does it look?
Visually, UFO Aftershock is quite a big improvement on UFO Aftermath. The game is locked at the screen resolution of 1024x768, which is unfortunate if you use a 17" TFT or above as the picture won't look as sharp as it should, but even so the game does look better. Both character models and the various environments that you'll encounter in the game all look a lot better than those in UFO Aftermath. However it's fair to say that despite the big improvement in the graphics, the game still doesn't look as good as it could have. Turning on anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering does improve the situation a little but it is still far from being a great looking game. Controlling the game camera can be problematic at times too, with the need to constantly rotate your view being slightly irritating at times.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
UFO Aftershock is pretty much the same as UFO Aftermath in regards to how deaf gamer friendly it is. The introductory cutscene is not subtitled. The tutorial messages and important in-game dialogue are all shown in text. Comments made by your characters when you issue orders to them are not subtitled, which does not cause any problems but nevertheless it would have been nice had they been subtitled as it adds character to your units. All other information in the game is shown in text so you'll have no major problems in playing the game.
I daresay many will want to compare UFO Aftershock with the old X-Com games as they are fairly similar in nature. Personally I find comparisons between the two a little unfair because when they were released the X-Com games were unlike anything we had seen and their originality was part of the appeal. It's also difficult to compare a turn-based game with a real-time game. Although UFO Aftershock can be paused (and it automatically pauses in certain situations), it still doesn't feel the same as a turn-based game. Taken on its own merits UFO Aftershock is a very good strategy game that manages to blend global strategy and tactical mission quite nicely. It's a better game than UFO Aftermath with a better storyline and generally a more complete experience. Even if you disliked UFO Aftermath you should still give UFO Aftershock a look and those who did like the original game will find this sequel much more deserving of your time.
Overall Game Rating: 8.1/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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UFO Aftershock is a great sequel to UFO Aftermath and in many ways it's a better game. It's not perfect though and there's still room for improvement but this is a game that should be more appealing to strategy gamers than UFO Aftermath (which itself was a good game).