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Publisher: 1C Company
Developer: Altar Games
Minimum requirements: Windows XP or 2000; DirectX 8.1; 1 GHz CPU; 512 MB RAM; nVidia GeForce 5700 or ATI Radeon 9500; MS DirectX 9.0 compatible soundcard; 4 GB free hard disk space; DVD ROM drive
Release date: Available now
Review by: Ivaylo Kovatchev
Have you ever arrived at a party late, after almost everyone has gone, most of the food and drinks were consumed, and the spirit of merriment was reduced to a shadow in the eyes of those still there? That’s the experience UFO: Afterlight recreates in the context of a computer game. The party is called X-COM, you’re late, but there are still some things to enjoy.
The storyline for UFO: Afterlight assumes you’re familiar with the previous games in the series (UFO: Aftermath and UFO: Aftershock). While not a complete in medias res, all of a sudden, you find yourself on Mars, in control of about 20 people trying to survive. They have a small base, complete with bio domes, which also houses the cryogenically frozen bodies of thousands of their fellow human beings. Your task: terraform Mars so the people in the cryo tanks can be revived and the survival of mankind can be ensured. Saving the human race is always heady stuff, so let’s get to it.
After an accident occurs near a dig site, killing one of the team members, you’re given control of a small group of soldiers. Your objectives include navigating a real time tactical map, shooting the robot responsible for the murder, opening a set of doors and then vacating the map with your squad. With the easy tutorial mission over, the Martian globe is revealed to you along with a multitude of buttons and advisers suggesting various courses of action.
The Globe screen displays your home base along with any neighboring territories, which can be invaded. Military expansion is followed by economic growth, as you build resource extraction outposts in controlled territories, and thereby secure much-needed fuel, minerals, chemicals and so forth. Base technicians sent out in a Mars buggy do the building. You can see enemy or ally occupied zones and potential threats to your holdings from the Globe screen.
Managing the small group of explorers is one of your main tasks. The People screen lets you control the soldiers, scientists and technicians of your small community. Each can learn new skills in the military, scientific and technical fields, and you can spend attributes points to increase their stats if they’ve gained levels in combat. What’s more, members can be assigned to specific teams, whether scientific, technical or military. Naturally, the military receives more attention, as you get to choose every single piece of equipment the intrepid warriors carry into combat, down to the last bullet, via the Equipment screen.
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