UFO Aftershock
Developer: Altar Interactive
Publisher: Ascaron
Release Date: 14/10/2005
Players: 1
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X-Files without Mulder – E.R without Doug Ross and the Star Wars movies without the original cast. They all happened, but to many they were just not the same – the spark and magic were gone – that one ingredient which made the whole thing work for many had vanished. So what’s that got to do with UFO Aftershock?

Well, a few years ago there was a series of games that started with one called UFO and ended with XCOM Apocalypse – turn based strategy at its very best, and still possibly my favourite games of all time. Now Aftershock (and its prequel) is kind of half-cousin of those games – a homage if you will, but (and it’s a BIG but) they have left out the turn-based system. Anyway – I gave it a go – I was intrigued to see what made the games I love so special – was it the turn-based gameplay or was it something else?

I find it so hard to review Aftershock without talking about the earlier trilogy – the game for the most part feels so, so similar. Aftershock’s campaign is managed from the Geosphere screen – a controllable world where you plan out your line of attack and watch your progress (or lack of it) A couple of clicks of the mouse move you around this screen and that’s how you make your way onto the “meat” of the game.

The 3D isometric combat section is where you take on your biggest strategic challenge. You click on your chosen soldier, issue his (or her) orders and watch as they go about their business. Unfortunately it is here where the game falls flat on its face and loses much of its appeal. The turn-based system has been replaced by something referred to as the 'Simultaneous Action System'

When you start issuing orders the game is paused – you then issue waypoint commands to move or aiming commands to shoot, and with a press of the space bar you watch as your plans unfold. To me it just does not work – the AI of the soldiers is just not good enough to allow for the “surprises” that you come across – they seem more content to just take any attacks on the chin without firing back. Unless of course you spot what’s going on, press the space bar and refine your tactics. It’s fiddly, very, very fiddly. I don’t want to go on but the turn-based point system works so much better – you seemed to have far more control of not only your squad but your strategy.

I really don’t understand the reasoning for the removal of the turn-based system. Fans loved it – there seems to be dozens of websites dedicated to the original games. It also would not be so noticeable if everything else about Aftershock was not so obviously “borrowed” from the other games. Aftershock also uses the base and economical management from those games.

Like I said I am sorry to go on about it – perhaps it’s a passion thing but why take all but the best thing from other games to make one of your own – it makes no sense.

It’s possible that strategy fans that are less fond of turn-based games will get something from Aftershock though. It looks good, has a strong plot and there is a BIG game contained on those discs, unfortunately it’s not for me.

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- It looks just like the XCOM games
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by: dUnKle

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