The year is 2054. Fifty years ago, something terrible happened, resulting in the Earth's surface becoming uninhabitable. The remnants of humankind escaped to an immense flying island, the Laputa. However a revolt against increasingly rigid and corrupt human leadership of the island escalated into a conflict that eventually destroyed it. The survivors of the survivors flee once again. Can they reclaim the Earth from the unknown forces now holding her in their grasp?
Age requirements: ESRB Rating: TEEN with Mild Language, Violence. PEGI Rating: 16+ with Violence.
Minimum system requirements: Windows XP or Windows Vista, 1 GHz Processor (1.4 GHz recommended), 256MB RAM (512 recommended), NVidia or ATI/AMD 3D graphics card compatible with DirectX 9, Mouse, Keyboard. Patched to version 2.0 (22.214.171.124)
Posted on 2009-12-15 11:21:44 byrobobrien:
The first installment of Altar's trilogy was a rather timid affair. Possibly afraid a couple of x-com fanboys dressed as sectoids would show up and attempt to mindprobe them with a homemade device built from a cereal box and toilet rolls, the resulting game was far too streamlined for it's own good.
The sequel returns many of the elements that were missing from Aftermathread more and begins with the good old planet Earth seriously screwed up and its your job to unscrew it. To this end you can enlist the aid of earth's survivors by kicking mutant butt in any territory they call home or take what you need regardless of whose particular butt gets kicked and prepare yourself for a serious frowning and dip in diplomatic relations.
The survivors are made up of three factions, rugged good looking humans, black eyed scary looking psychists and huge cyborgs who have lots of fun with their x-ray vision. Depending on your status with them you can request or be given an amount of each of their unique resource or man/she power. The bodies can be put into the field and the resources put to use creating bigger and louder weaponary, support items or armor.
Base building is back in and no longer the pointless addition it was in Aftermath and as progress is made in the game a greater network of manufactories, military and research centres can be built. Each base varies in size which in turn limits the amount of buildings that can be placed and expanding into new territory opens up new base building opportunities.
Taking a terrirtory is one of a number of missions that can be undertaken in the tactical side of the game, they usually all involve shooting anything that walks, floats or crawls and even a simple extraction mission has every chance of turning into a bloodbath. The missions all begin from a floating island which is home base of your squad, and via a shuttle that looks pretty much like a golf ball you can send an away team to any hotspot you wish. Missions are won, loot is collected for research or use in the field and the experience of your squad increases, turning what was once a bunch of knock kneed rookies into a bunch of class-based killers and support guys.
Sound good? Well it is, at first. The start of this game is easily four or five star material. An attempt to make a game with more personality is evident from the beginning as several of your crew and each of the faction leaders introduce themselves with a lengthy monologue. The graphics on the tactical map and squad portraits are more fleshed out and robust than previous and help give the game a bit more character. With the ability to research, expand and build up a kick ass squad, use each of the factions to your own advantage and as with this type of game the added bonus of uncovering the alien plot and new technologies; this is the kind of stuff that should keep me up till dawn.
The game lacks too many finishing touches. Its as if Altar laid the foundations for a great game then headed off for a liquid lunch from which they never returned. There are no surprises, no twists, not enough layers to both the strategic map or tactical missions. Altar could have done so much more. Hotspots appear on the map so frequently that it does not take all that long before a sense of deja-vu descends as you fight in all too familar locations. And you fight the same drab looking aliens and mutants again and again. Questionable A.I tactics, hostile units swarm toward your squad, and line of sight issues, aliens suddenly appearing almost next to your team, doesn't help the constant grind. Neither does the lack of command options with your units resulting in the need to babysit them at every encounter and hitting the pause button every half a second. You only have to play the game for a few hours and i guarantee you will have a bucketful of good ideas that you will wish had been incorporated into the game.
Blasting aliens is fun. Developing new weapons and a creating a varied team of warriors is fun. Aftershock is a fun game until it gets tired of showing you new things and requires too many hours of completing tactical missions before the story/research hits its next trigger. More events, maps, tactical options, creatively designed aliens and greater faction diplomacy would have made for a much greater game.
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Posted on 2009-12-16 08:26:34 bytermit:
As an old fan of the X-Com series, I was pretty excited by the prospect of new games in the spirit of the franchise the first time I heard rumors about UFO: Aftermath. When I finally got to playing it, I had mixed feelings about it. There were a few interesting ideas, like the tactical combat system and the soldier development, and some that I did not like outright - like the minimalread more base management that seemed slapped together. At that time, I was hoping that Altar could make a sequel that would improve on Aftermath and bring more of the old X-Com gameplay features back. UFO: Aftershock was that sequel, and for me, it did not disappoint.
The story continues years after the events in UFO: AM. The Earth is covered in biomass, and the few surviving people start on board a huge Reticulan spaceship in Earth orbit, trying to reclaim their planet. The gameplay is again divided in two major parts, strategical and tactical. On the strategical map, the whole planet is viewed, bases and tracks can be constructed, and diplomacy, research, manufacturing and soldiers are managed. This is also where tactical missions are initiated. In the tactical part you command a squad of soldiers that must complete some mission objective, fighting various enemies.
So, the good stuff first:
There is far greater variety on the strategical level. Particularly base management, bases can finally be micromanaged, with each base having free "slots" where buildings can be placed. Resource management is added, with 3 resource types with various availability (sometimes I had to go out of my way to capture a territory for a stash that provides me with a needed resource).
Also added are a few fractions, with diplomacy options for trading and recruitment.
A soldier can now only take three "professions", but each profession can have 3 levels. This allows (and requires) you to create a versatile squad of specialists, that match your preferred tactics (like, for instance, a dual SMG wielding ultra fast commando who is great at close fighting). Also, soldiers from two more factions can be recruited, each faction with unique capabilities.
The tactical missions now have greater variety, and I personally have no problems with the SAS system. While I do prefer pure turn-based tactical combat, real-time/pause anytime gives enough control on your soldiers. The engine is improved a lot compared to UFO: AM with better graphics, and buildings can now be entered (and sometimes partially destroyed) which again provides more interesting tactical combat.
And the bad...
At midgame/endgame base management becomes a chore. Unlike X-Com, where one can finish the game just fine with 4-5 bases, in AS there are a LOT of bases that can only hold few buildings each, so I was often forced to click like mad in order to upgrade one of my laboratory types in a few bases.
Bases have to be connected by "tracks", and each track requires resource upkeep. Managing these tracks is sometimes rather unpleasant, and having one of them destroyed can cut off an entire continent. On the other hand, support for redundant tracks is rather costly.
Weapons are varied, true, but in the end you only end up using a few "best choice" weapons. ShadoWarrior's mod (there is a link in Epsilon's review) fixes this, however.
There are also moments when the game just goes slowly, with large number of random tactical missions and no story advancement whatsoever. This inevitably leads to the moment where you have seen all variations of tactical maps and they start to repeat themselves.
Stability - there were some serious problems on my PC at the time, including random crashes to the desktop and major slowdowns. More of them were due to Starforce (I am fairly sure, since removing it greatly improved the game's stability) and should not occur with the GOG version.
All in all, this is a good game that I recommend to fans of turn based tactical combat games. It is not X-Com, but comes with enough own goodness to be worth playing.
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Posted on 2009-12-15 13:08:24 byEpsilon:
If you played the predecessor then two things really stand out about this one, first the removal of the ability to shoot from corners of buildings.
Second a lot better mission design. You can tell that the developers got more experience in this game and they've put it to good use. But it's still with a lot of flaws and imbalances which mostly relates to the weapons and the ai whichread more is quite poor.
Often you'll find yourself in a mission where the aliens try to run you down like a pack of angry bulls, and you just need the widest spread possible on your guns or use grenades.
Luckily most of these issues are fixed in the excellent Weapon Rebalance Mod by ShadoWarrior which can be downloaded here http://www.strategycore.co.uk/files/index.php?dlid=260
A more recent mod and with some scifi like effects is the ACM Total Conversion by Okim which can be downloaded here http://www.strategycore.co.uk/files/index.php?dlid=725
Using either of these mods will really improve the playability and enjoyment of the game, it actually gets so good that I've played through it a couple of times, Aftermath I've only been able to complete once in comparison.
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