previews\ Jul 22, 2003 at 8:00 pm

UFO: Aftermath - PC - Preview 2

Fans of X-COM, rejoice!  It looks like the hybrid “Turn-based/RTS” created by the makers of X-COM is finally getting ready to see to the light of day, thanks to developer ALTAR Interactive and publishers Tri Synergy and Cenega.  While it’s true that the game has gone through about as many name changes as J Lo has gone through husbands (I know, lame joke), I recently played an Alpha build of UFO: Aftermath, and the results were quite good.  The game does a fine job of melding together various styles of strategic gameplay, while weaving an interesting plotline involving aliens and killer spores ending civilization as we know it.


UFO: Aftermath was first announced by Mythos Games over three years ago as Dreamland Chronicles: Freedom Ridge.  However, due to a lack of sufficient funds, the game was dropped, only to be picked up a year later by ALTAR Interactive, who pledged to keep true to the original vision of its creators.  ALTAR changed the name of the game to UFO Freedom Ridge, only to drop the “Freedom Ridge” moniker in favor of “Aftermath” a few months later.  Now it seems that the game is getting ready for release this September with no further name changes in sight. 


There are two main types of gameplay in UFO: Aftermath: the strategy heavy world navigator mode, in which you can set up new bases and other types of facilities in order to try to gain more control from the aliens, and the on-foot RTS missions, which provide the real meat of the game.  In the RTS missions, you control a squad of recruits in order to complete randomly generated missions.  Since the missions and new recruit options are randomly generated, no two missions are alike, making for a unique experience each time you play.


As I said earlier, UFO: Aftermath is a turn-based/RTS.  While these two elements may sound contradictory, but UFO does a pretty nice job of connecting them.  Like an RTS, you move a group of soldiers around a playing field to find and eliminate enemies or perform tasks.  However, like a turn-based strategy game, you are able to pause the action whenever a new combat variable arises and contemplate a change in plans.  The game also has pretty strong RPG elements, as your characters become stronger as you progress through more missions.  As you hone your characters strengths they will begin to develop unique abilities, like sniping, scouting, and healing, making each character indispensable.  You also have access to 70+ weapons, each with its own strengths and shortcomings.


When it comes to a game that has been in development for a long time, graphics are often an issue since certain techniques and technologies become dated during a game’s development, giving the game a disadvantage upon release.  Such is not the case with UFO: Aftermath.  The game showcases nice looking character models and animations, and the environments have some pretty impressive lighting effects.  Not too shabby for a game only in its Alpha stages.


The sound is fairly good, as well.  The gun sounds are pretty accurate, and the ambient music is very subtle and appropriate for the gameplay.  The voice acting is also quite good, although the lines do get very repetitive pretty quickly.  However, this can (and probably will) be fixed before the game is released.


UFO: Aftermath has a lot of nice elements in it, and could be a welcome breath of fresh air for the RTS genre.  Early on, the game has managed to combine RTS action, turn-based strategy, and RPG-style character building.  If all proceeds as planned, UFO: Aftermath should be a title that strategy fans should keep their eye on.


UFO: Aftermath is scheduled to be released this September.

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