Developed by ALTAR Interactive and published by CENEGA Publishing, UFO Aftermath is currently distributed in Singapore by Replay Interactive under their Replaygem label at the cool price of $9.95.
Bought this game on impulse a few weeks ago and looking at the screenshots on the box, it’s pretty evident this game derives much of its inspiration from the classic X-COM series. If you played the X-COM series before and you’re thinking how UFO Aftermath compares against against X-COM, hopefully you’ll find your answers here.
The most crucial difference that you realize when starting a new game in UFO Aftermath is that the concept of funding is totally non-existent. So how do you build bases, upgrade base facilities, hire soldiers, scientists, technicians, etc? The fact is that you don’t – bases are captured not built (more on this later) and hiring of personnel is not required.
The world is divided into many territories, one which is under your control at the start of the game and the rest under alien control after their invasion in 2004 (remember that UFO Aftermath was released in 2003). Multiple successful missions in alien territory will add that region to your possession or generate a base capture mission which will then provide you with a new base upon successful completion.
Now any player who has played X-COM knows that research and manufacturing alien weapons is the most viable defense against the aliens, but without scientists and technicians in UFO Aftermath, how do you conduct the all-important R&D? Well, UFO Aftermath has abstracted the R&D by allocating bases one of four different roles – military, research, engineering and anti-biomass. You need at least one research or engineering base to start any research or manufacturing project and having more bases of each role significantly cuts down on the time required. Bases can be switched from role to role but several hours are required to change roles.
One thing that X-COM players have to note is that tactical missions spring up on the strategic map very frequently (expect to complete more missions in a week than what you normally rack up in one month in X-COM). Since your squad cannot be everywhere at all missions, you can delegate (aka auto-resolve) the more tedious or boring missions to other troops and have your squad deal with the more important or interesting ones.
The tactical missions are conducted in what ALTAR calls their Simulatenous Action System (SAS) which is essentially realtime pauseable mode. I feel that SAS makes squad based tactical games more realistic than the turnbased mode of X-COM or the realtime/turnbased hybrids used in the Jagged Alliance and Silent Storm series.
Simply tap the Space button, issue your orders and tap the Space key to resolve those orders. Want an operative to shoot two bursts before running for cover? Coordinate an assault from multiple directions at once? Easily accomplished in UFO Aftermath.
However, the combat feels slightly shallow after having experiencing other games like Jagged Alliance 2 Mod 1.13, mainly due to the lack of options – your operatives can shoot and throw grenades but that’s basically about it. The flexibility of the pauseable system for positioning and manuevering your operatives during the missions more than makes up for the lack of depth though.
X-COM players might also be interested to know that UFO Aftermath employs an RPG system in progressing your squad. BTW, you don’t have a say in which operative gets hired for your squad since the games doles them out to you on a regular basis.
Exprience points are earned after each mission and operatives eligible for promotion to the next level get to upgrade one out of six attributes which improves corresponding skills and possibly opens the chance of training in one or more specializations e.g soldier, sniper, medic, for further skill improvements.
As for outfitting your squad, UFO Aftermath is similiar to X-COM or any game of this genre in using a paperdoll system. Beware of loading your operatives with more than they can carry as they will move more slowly than the rest. You wouldn’t want them to straggle and get picked off by aliens during a mission, do you?
Also since there’s no funds involved, you can only equip your operatives with weapons scoured from the battlefield after a mission. (at least until you can start manufacturing new technologies) The base has a quite decent armoury at the start of the game with an infinite number of certain weapons and ammo like the pump-action shotguns, SMGs and pistols. Thankfully, light armour and helmets are provided which reduces the risk of your operatives getting shot to pieces during their first missions.
All in all, UFO Aftermath is a decently entertaining game (feels like X-COM Lite). The streamlined (some might say simplified) strategic game may put off some players accustomed to tweaking their bases and R&D efforts for maximum efficiency but for the rest, it should be quite as interesting and addictive as X-COM. The low price doesn’t hurt either. – Singapore players can get the Replaygem version (comes with a decent paper manual and patched to version 1.4) while European gamers can purchase it online for 9.90 EUR (excluding VAT).Games Games Downloads