UFO: Trilogy Review (PC)

The UFO series has gone from mediocre beginnings to something exciting. Now four years and three games down the line we have a shiny new trilogy pack showcasing the seriesí development from humble beginnings to a series with some interest. Contained in the pack is UFO: Aftermath, UFO: Aftershock and UFO: Afterlight. The games havenít had an easy time of things being the successor series to the classic X-COM, and this showed in the original game with a lot of the body stripped away from it. But as the series continued ALTAR Games seem to have taken onboard the advice and criticism levelled at their first game, adding in a lot more soul into the next episodes.

Before we go any further, a small amount of background on the events of the games. Aliens have attacked the Earth; they are intent on wiping out the human race and claiming the Earth for their own. On a day known, now, as Twilight the first wave of attacks began with spores being dropped into the atmosphere blocking out the sun. The next couple of days sees the almost complete destruction of the Human Race, save s few survivors who are hidden in underground bunkers. After a few weeks the spores that caused death or such a large scale have disappeared and the remnants of our world return to the surface to hold off the invading forces and take back the planet.

This is where Aftermath starts you take control of the ragtag band of survivors and start a campaign to repel the alien invaders. This is done is a fairly normal turn based way, where you have a research and production centres that allow you to research better weapons and produce said weapons or ammo, respectively. The research and production is completed in a very simple fashion, stating how many days it will take for your requested assignment to be completed. The movement is done in Real-Time strategy way, as you have events appear at different places over the world giving you missions to do. These missions vary from simple collection of specimens to taking back a military base from the green menace. But the problem is these missions rarely hold anything new after your twentieth mission it pretty much falls into a regular pattern, there are the old mission that is something new but you become very bored with them, extremely quickly.

It is a shame that the game doesnít live up to the predecessor as a lot of the soul of what made X-COM a classic has somehow been drawn out of the game. Aftermath has some redeeming features, but unfortunately they really donít save this poor attempt at a re-hash. For more details on UFO: Aftermath see our review here.

The next game in the series continues in a similar vein, with nothing particularly new added here, except a few small changes that seem only to make this game a bit different from the previous title. The storyline is a bit more Sci-Fi like this time around with your band of followers come down from the space station (that you agreed to live on after the events of the first game) after losing contact with the Earth to find out what has happened.

The problem with the game is it just seems a bit unsure where it is going in combat situations, with it shutting off the action mid-flow to tell you some new event, this becomes increasingly annoying as the game progresses and thought you can shut off the event pause options this makes the game a chaotic, never-ending and confusing mess. The strategy side of things isnít that much better with the gameplay pretty much not changing from Aftermath.

But there are saving graces with the game there is a heap load of new technologies to research and weapons to make. But, regrettably, this is also made more complicated that it needs to be with some of the strangest categories I have seen for research technologies in all the time I have played computer games. These techs are set in low tech, high tech and alien, but I cannot fathom why, it just over complicates things. There is one other section that makes UFO take a small and slight clumsy step forward, this is the diplomacy. Diplomacy in this game is handled in a much too simplified way, as instead of a match of words it is a disappointing is the fact if they like you enough you can get them to join your ĎCommonwealthí or ask for resources or weapons but nothing that has anything of great depth.

Overall I canít believe it but a sequel actually seems to be worst than that of its precursor, but sadly this game is. It has its up points in graphics and a beefier engine, but fails to draw you in and make this game as good as it should have been.
You can see our full review here.

The final game in the series is Afterlight, in this game the focus has shifted to a new planet, Mars. The story here focuses on a small colony on the planet that, like the space station in the previous game, has lost contact with Earth and do not know why. But instead of going back to Earth to take it back, you are tasked with taking control of all of Mars.

This game was undoubtedly the best out of the three, the game plays much better than that of the previous title with it feeling much smoother in the design. There are much more depth to this game than there was in the other titles, with inclusion of other mechanics that allow you to control much more of my colony than was allowed before. In the last two games you had just research and production under you control, now you have others like Civil Engineering, which allows you to build new structures on your base. Also you have an operations manager, who will tell you if any events happen around your base. Unfortunately, this is once again done in pause mode that stops you game flow to tell you these messages, which can be a good thing meaning that you can act upon them straight a way but the thing is this also means that if you were in the middle of doing something on the main map everything is stopped so if your not careful you tend to forget what you were doing before the event message appeared.

All in all, I believe that this is the best game out of the trilogy, but still lacks that sparkle that would have made it genius. The gameplay runs a lot better than that of the first two, but there are still too many weaknesses in the gameplay too make it a winner.
Read the full review of Afterlight here.

Looking at this pack, you can see a series evolve from its basic beginnings to a series to be watched. I believe that this pack is worth the money for anyone who, like me, hasnít enjoyed the UFO series before. I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun the combination of RTS type combat and turn based gameplay could be. I would recommend this set of games, to while away those cold winter months.

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