For fans of the UFO series, this game will feel anything but alien. by Daemia
December 5 , 2005 – Reeling from the affects of the Aftermath is Aftershock. Aftermath was a refreshing, multi-tiered, team-based strategy game. It was refreshing but it wasn’t entirely unique. It follows the pattern of the strategy game rigidly and was plagued by some technical issues including crashes and poor graphics. UFO: Aftershock is like a refined version of Aftermath but it hasn’t found its own unique take on the genre and rehashes more of the same from the original version.
Aliens have taken over the planet and have polluted it with a deadly biomass which has caused mutation of various humans and aliens. The humans that escaped the alien invasion were residing on Laputa which is now itself in turmoil with the leadership of that world destroying the human colonies. The escapees are determined to return to Earth and face the invaders in an attempt to regain control of the planet – but there are other factions on the planet that need to be dealt with.
The aliens are powerful but they can be destroyed by your small army – if you have the means to produce one. You’ve got to prepare for the alien attacks by acquiring some land, resources, troops and buildings to construct weapons, vehicles and more buildings. Once you get your hands on an area of the planet to call your own there are two main tasks you must perform. One is to start building a base and the other is to start alliances with several neighboring factions in an effort to expand.
Humans, cyborgs, mutants and Psionics control various provinces. They are a rich source of resources, technologies and potential recruits. Offer them some of your resources and chances are they will not find you a threat. If they like you they will share, trade, sell or give you some resources or troops. There isn’t much depth to the diplomacy aspect of this feature. You can’t directly communicate with the head of state or any chancellors but if the faction finds favor with your leadership they might come under your control as part of your commonwealth.
The game is played in real time, yes, even the combat. But the pace of the game is severely hampered by all of the pauses that require your attention. These pauses are included to make the micromanagement easier to keep track of without losing your mind but either way it’s going to piss you off. The game pauses whenever you spot an alien, lose sight of an alien, kill an alien, run out of ammo or when another teammate walks in front of another one blocking his field of vision. You access the menu and make the necessary adjustments and then continue on playing. It’s nice to have this option and it’s a real Godsend if you’re playing for keeps but you can adjust the pause options to respond to less incidents in order to pick up the pace if that’s what you’re more concerned with.
Having established your base, the main tasks at hand require harvesting resources and building shops to process the material. Just about everything you do will require research. You will even have to build research buildings to conduct research on the construction of other buildings. Confusing? Believe it or not, it’s not. You can’t skip levels; the game is linear in the context of having certain aspects completed before being allowed you to move on. It will help you with various menus, prompters and of course, pauses to remind you of what needs to be taken care of and in what order.
Resources are plentiful. Once you scour the area you will find tons of things for processing. The more things you find the more things you can build which will aid in your accomplishment of the huge campaign. The campaign is divided into countless missions that are relatively easy to complete individually, but the campaign is so large and relentless that you never seem to make a dent in it. This is find if you’re in it for the long haul but those weaned on instant gratification will need to take a pill or look elsewhere for their thrills.
Squad members are comprised of various factions, each having different attributes that you can enhance much like a RPG. The humans are the most plentiful and make good generic soldiers. The cyborgs can be upgraded with various hardware systems and weapons that make them effective for the frontline. The Psionics possess psychic powers and are used for more covert activities. They also make good support for the main troops.
Each squad member has 14 different skills and six main attributes. By increasing the main attributes you will increase various skills. For example, increase a soldier’s strength and he’ll be able to carry more weapons. You can give soldiers more dexterity, accuracy, better hearing, better sight and the ability to wield different weapons from twin guns to laser blasters.
Regardless of your squad’s abilities, it’s your ability to place them safely and strategically in the various situations that will make or break your success in each mission. Make sure you take advantage of natural cover in the environment and ensure that your teammates are always covering each other. Both the enemy squad and your team tend to bunch up during combat. You need to spread your guys out a little more so that they aren’t sitting ducks. In such a formation they won’t all be able to shoot.
This game is a real resource hog, but on the surface there doesn’t appear to be any good reason for it. The graphics aren’t great, as they often repeat considering there are only a dozen maps. There are only a handful of alien models and load times are excessive. I did experience a couple of crashes and some slowdown. The animations for the various soldiers that show them performing their various skills shows that there is some attention to detail. Whether he’s reloading his ammo, getting pummeled by a foe or doing some stealth recon, it’s all presented with a stylish sense of realism that focuses our sights on what’s important and that’s the maintenance of your army.
Control freaks need apply. UFO Aftershock may be sluggish in pace but there is lots to ponder like a good game of chess. The menu system is excellent and a comprehensive tutorial keeps you informed of all the decision-making processes. You might be disappointed if you’ve played Aftermath since Aftershock is rather derivative but newbies should find this challenging.
- Intertwining global strategy and small scale tactical missions
- Strategic resource and base management
- Enhanced SAS (Simultaneous Action System) and RPG system in tactical play
- Fight your way through realistic skyscrapers, inside and out
- New amazing items and technologies to research and develop
- Radical new training and experience system
- New terrifying enemies and powerful allies
- Added diplomacy element
- New gripping storyline
- Interactive destructible environment
CCC Staff Writer