going to throw Aftermath a
bone, and give it a mediocre rating. Iím ignoring all my bias in doing
so, and providing clean, objective criticism. Itís buggy, bland and
repetitive, the graphics are nothing worthy of merit, and if it were
made of wood youíd be able to see rusty nails sticking out left right
and centre, but itís not the worst thing that the world has ever seen.
So, thatís that out of the way; if youíre the sort of person who
browses the Empire every so often in search of the latest high-scorer,
then itís time to stop reading. I recommend Prince of Persia 3D, or
something. Maybe one of the Fallout games, if you want to confine
yourself roughly to the genre. Hell, you could do worse than the
original XCOMÖ but Iíll get to that, in a minute.
to expand upon the mediocrity, let me give you some background. The game
is a third person strategy game, in which you control a real time squad,
that feels turn based, in a post apocalyptic environment, against the
hordes of some alien menace or other. Thereís not much to chew on, and
itís hard to get pulled into the storyline. Itís pretty standard
fare Ė bog standard in fact, with no bells, whistles or
sphincter-clenching innovations. The environments are totally not
deformable, the aliens are pretty bug-eyed, and the weapons pop like
peashooters at fifty yards. Whatís missing is atmosphere.
As far as slick and polish goes, Aftermath poorly misses the mark, giving the sort of jury-rigged impression youíd expect to get if it were actually being held together with staples. Rumour has it the project changed hands part way through the development, so thereís likely to be a certain amount of meat behind the metaphor.
one third of the way through the game there is a sudden, inexplicable
and totally unsubtle increase in difficulty. And thatís where, if I
had to poll it, Iíd imagine the vast majority of players gave up and
went to try something else. So thatís it. A mediocre experience, with
poor gameplay balance. But waitÖ! Despite being in all ways average, I
really do hate this game, and thereís just time for some vitriol.
see, although for legal reasons Cenega may not be able to admit it, Aftermath
is the obvious bastard child of the XCOM series and harks back to the
very first two titles of the series. Thereís an alien invasion and a
task force to deal with it, an expandable encyclopaedia of researched
artefacts, a rotating planetlike geoscape ticking off UFO sightings, and
which is followed by related tactical missions. Almost carbon.
a long time in development, this game looked like the business. It
looked like XCOM + one decade of computer enhancements. In every way
this game seems intended to honour the memory of that distinguished
title, and so itís my belief that Cenega did not merely create this
shameful pretender in order to cash in on a legacy. Perhaps they just
got kind of bored around the halfway mark, and decided to ship.
thing is crystal: when held to the light of XCOM, even ten years down
the timeline, Aftermath
absolutely pales. In every particular area in which XCOM excelled, Aftermath
has taken devastating shortcuts. It is a bitter cup to drink. Aftermath
is like the skeleton of UFO
Defense. Imagine, if you will, some enthusiastic youth taking the
time to explain the original XCOM game to his half-deaf maternal
grandmother. This is her
impression of the game; the following Christmas sheíll knit him a
sweater with three arms, and UFO
The game should probably better have been dubbed UFO: Afterbirth Ė itís ugly and sloppy and imposes itself on the heels of what you really wanted to see.
- Matt BLB
(January 18, 2004)
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