There’s nothing worse than a game that’s difficult for difficulty’s sake, and with UFO: Aftershock, that’s exactly what you’re getting – a game that’s too hard for its own good. What starts out as an enjoyable (yet unofficial) extension of the X-Com tactical squad games quickly turns into a repetitive and sluggish foray into complexity. One minute, you’re popping rounds into rubberygray aliens bent on dominating mankind, the next, you’re staring down a user interface that looks like you could launch a space shuttle with it.
UFO: Aftershock follows in the footsteps of the much-beloved X-Com franchise, with players taking command of squads of futuristic soldiers as they try to pry Earth free from the clutches of aliens. It’s a simple story that requires players to think strategically (manage resources, purchase equipment and dispatch troops) and tactically (equip teams, control men and choose targets), but falls short due to an overly complex interface and yawn-inducing repetition. The first hint that bad things are heading your way is when the tutorial takes you to the unitloadout screen. Suddenly, you’re staring down the barrel of an incredibly complex set of menus that’ll have you scratching your head for hours, or simply hitting the auto-equip button just to get out of the screen.
Once you’ve equipped a team and chosen a landing site, UFO: Aftershock shows its true colors…and those colors are gray and grayer, aka..the colors of boredom. It feels like there were perhaps a dozen map templates the developer relied upon, and just shuffled a few sections of each around to call them “new.” Add to that the simple objectives, typically escort, rescue and kill kill kill, and you’ll find that a game that seemed fun at first becomes mind-numbing within an hour or two. Apparently, the developer felt that by offering in an insanely difficult game, they’d keep players interested, but that’s just not the case, not when you’re getting popped by aliens/mutants from across the map, or watching baddies just “appear” out of nowhere while your newbie fighters can’t hit a barn door. Frustration reigns supreme.
The blah graphics definitely don’t help a game that’s already suffering. Textures and character models are generic and lack sufficient detail to make them worth zooming in on. Environments are limited in depth, and just feel flat. The audio fares even worse, with cheesy music and sound effectsreminiscent of the original X-Com of almost a decade ago.
UFO: Aftershock attempts to be the spiritual successor to the excellent X-Com: UFO Defense, but it falls on its face in so many ways, it just doesn’t pull it off. Instead, we have a game that defines boring and shows how not to put together a user interface for a game. Games should be fun, and an interface that makes a game feel like work is bound to fail.
- Gameplay: 6
- A scary interface and repetitive gameplay.
- Graphics: 6
- Dated graphics engine
- Sound: 5
- Even more dated than the graphics engine
- Replay: 3
- Repetitive to the limits of human tolerance.
- Overall: 6
- Playable, but lacking any “fun factor”
— Craig Falstaff