Diablo22 is a Dutch player and fan who has released his gameplay experience with UFO: Afterlight
on the UFO forum
. It's a very readable and interesting narrative and we are glad to bring a little preened version to you on this site. Have fun!
Chapter 1 — Beastmen & Bewilderment
Released May 23 2007, 02:08 PM
Hi, I was the 'gamer in doubt', but I bought it as I saw ShadoWarrior (and other heroes) were already hard at work modding. As the game experience will change over time, I thought it might be interesting to post my impressions as I work my way trough the game. Initially I'll play unmodded on normal and see how that goes.
Yesterday - game arrived!!! *Rip of plastic* Hmmm... decent artwork... he he, even a little manual *speed-reads manual* Well, that was completely useless, but hey, I don't even expect manuals with games these days, so I'll consider it a bonus anyway.
*Powers up game* — Nice, nothing spectacular but fine. — *Starts a new game* — ... err... looks bewildered at a billion options and menus... oh well, let's just start. The countless tutorial popups were extremely useful, but it was annoying I had to click each one away, especially as there are a huge amount of them. My previous ALTAR experience was very useful in figuring out how the hell it basically works. Figuring out the basics of getting my base up and running took a lot of time.
Ah, so there are scientists and scientist-soldiers. Ditto for technicians — Ah, if I want to capture territory I have to put a scientist in the scientist bay and only THEN can I send the little buggy on its way. — Ah, if I want to build a mine I have to put a technician in the technician bay and only THEN can I send the little buggy on its way. — Those buggies are annoyingly hard to find on the map as they look a lot like geodomes. — The people management was the most complex thing to figure out.
Ah, so if I let a scientist spend some training points on a new skill, he needs to be in the university to actually DO the training — Ah, so if I let a technician spend some training points on a new skill, he needs to be in the pyrotechnics to actually DO the training — Ah, so nobody needs to be in civil engineering until I actually build a building — Took me a lot of time to figure out why I could not train my soldiers - any military skills requires research and a building. — On that note, I STILL haven't figured out how I was supposed to determine which resources I needed for a building. Strangely enough the 'military training center' only showed up in the build list when I had the resources required to build it, which is weird as other buildings I do not have enough resources for ARE listed?
Then played a few battles including Cydonia. — The crawlers were a joke. Total pushover. I can't say I like the graphics for the robots, not impressed at all. On the other hand, everything else is very well done. The maps are still way too small and I already suspect they will resemble each other a lot. At least the enemy didn't spawn right next to you in this game.
Then came the Cydonia mission. Wasted the crawlers and the stationary mech. Then the Beastmen showed up. Actually managed to get out with two beastmen dead first go. This was quite a chore as my soldiers were still completely untrained as I hadn't even RESEARCHED military training. Turns out that Beastmen can walk faster than you, which made getting away alive problematic. Of course, had to try again with dynamite and killed three on my second attempt while getting away safe. Quite pleased with myself.
Captured a few territories, build a few mines. Made an alliance with the Rets and got two guys from them with some very-badly needed weapons & ammo. Already I can't keep up production with expenditure of ammo. Too much training, too little production. Next time I'll keep the workspace fully staffed at all times.
I quit playing as the beastmen attacked the pipeline again and I could just scrape enough guns & ammo together to outfit a squad. Next time I'll start by actually reading in-game what all the keys shortcuts actually do.
Evaluation up to now (three hours played)
The Good: Definite improvement over Aftershock. Praise for ALTAR. I like the graphics, the story and the setting. I am completely in love with the whole people management system, although it is quite hard to figure out what in blazes you are supposed to be doing. I really liked the small video capture popups, especially the one where I met the Reticulans. I like the difference in height levels on the maps. I like the constant helpful advice from your staff. It looks very promising indeed.
The sort of Bad, but also Good: A lot of people have become extremely annoyed with the endless chatter of your staff, but I kind of like it myself. It gives the base a bit of a lived in experience and some extremely necessary hints when you are as clueless about the interface as I was. You can mod it away by the way.
The Bad: I am not impressed with the robot graphics, but that's not very important. I am very disappointed that the maps are so tiny (again). I am worried that the maps will become repetative very quickly, but I might be wrong there. Your initial weapon cache is pathetic and it takes way too long for you to build enough ammo and so on. Very annoying that I couldn't train my soldiers right off. I am quite sure that I am still missing a lot of stuff and am doing a lot of stuff wrong, which is also irritating. Difficult to keep track of all your people. Not very impressed with the explosion graphics, but the ragdoll systems is still brilliant.
- Gameplay: 9/10 Excellent, but difficult to get the hang of
- Graphics: 7/10 Nice, but nothing spectacular (ragdoll system still rules tough)
- Sound: 6/10 Lots of nice chatter (love the Ret sounds), but tactical sounds are nothing special. Music is ok.
- Replayability: 9/10 Incredible amount of different ways to play and very good mods available. The maps might become very repetative though.
- Overall: 8/10 Better than Aftermath, a hell of a lot better than Aftershock, with new gameplay concepts not seen before in any X-Com clone games. Sell your mother for organs and go buy this game!
Chapter 2 — Advancement & Annihilation
Released May 29 2007, 12:16 PM
Put in some serious gaming yesterday and made a lot of progress.
I expanded way too slowly, as I only put one scientist in the buggy and had no clue what I was supposed to be doing. You initial priority should be fuel and safeguarding the pipeline. I discovered to my horror that I didn't have enough fuel to defend the North Pole from beastman attack. Luckily for me after the mission had been on the map for two days I finally had enough fuel to fly there and save the day. Also did a bit of terraforming (3% now, ca 30 territories and 10 terraforming stations). I really like the way the maps change if a mission is close to a terraforming station. I have been training my scientists & technicians in all the wrong things, but it is too late to change that now. Priority should have been driving and planetology/surveying. Fortunately it seems I have been training my soldiers in the right things (minor agility, minor/major stability, minor/major suit wearing, minor toughness and one has minor/major leadership). Not quite sure what to train in next, but beastman anatomy seems the smart thing to do.
I was cautious about expanding and I spend a lot of time researching what I guess where the wrong things. The most important thing seems to be to get the fossil fuel plant, which requires a vast amount of resources to build however (actually it is an upgrade of the solar cells). No power plant, no extra labs & workshops. I have thus been progressing very slowly until I finally scrounged enough resources together to build the damn thing yesterday evening, along with an extra dome and some warehouses. Also very important is a faster vehicle engine for your buggies. A scientist/technician can have both driving AND planetology and is thus handy to send along in the scientist buggy. Two guys in the scientist buggy seems to be best. Don't send guys with soldier class.
I made contact with the 'evil' earth faction and the reticulans. Shared technology with them. I waited a long time before actually attacking the reticulans, as I was unsure if that was a good idea. I cheated a bit by checking to see if my reticulan soldiers would leave. Thus I sent Olga away in the science buggy with another scientist with orders not to come back until the Rets are wiped out.
Wiping out the reticulans was a walk in the park. As of now they are still in the game as I have an alliance with them again after taking most of their territory. I was very disappointed that the mission of destroying the reticulan base was just a 'standard' mission instead of a very cool 'special' mission.
The game became harder in a very good way. After quite some time the amount of beastmen doubled. After some more time the first 'special' beastmen put in an appearance. Then came the first mission that my team was wiped out. I split my team in two halves like usual and my drone got blasted away by one shot of the beastman 'chief' that I saw for the first time. That's when I suspected I might have a problem. My 3 men teams (heavy armour and rifles) were just walked over by a group of 15 'special' beastmen. Second time around I stayed as one group and took them out, but they required quite a bit of killing, ESPECIALLY the 'chief'. It was also confusing that the 'captains' didn't go down when their health was in the red. (I shifted my fire to the next enemy and got blasted point blank by them before I understood what was happening.) All in all, except for the 'chief' with the 'big gun' not very difficult.
I also had my first robot missions with a lot of big mechs. Turns out that rifles are extremely ineffective against them. The next time I brought scientific lasers, but they seemed just as ineffective. I made building laser rifles a priority. I don't have enough crystal to build laser cannons yet. I wonder how good they are against beastmen. The robots are not much of a threat though as they mostly do stun damage.
Meanwhile I've made contact with the Laputa and they have just sent me the Warp Cannon (looks great, haven't tried it yet) and some resources and two baseball cap wearing teenager wannabe soldiers. Have to try out the shotguns everyone is such a fan of (almost got the ammo done).
TODO List: Chemicals and Crystals, Laser rifles, Terraforming stations, Wiping out the reticulans. Also need to get myself some grenades fast.
Evaluation up to now (2 days played)
The Good: The ways the map change with terraforming. The plotline. The way the difficulty of the game scales up with your progress.
The Bad: Not enough different weapons. As you are 'forced' into heavy-duty suits it becomes impossible to run and this severely limits your tactical options. Still too easy on normal. These things can all be fixed by using mods. The maps are bigger than Aftershock, but still too small and repetitive. That fact that destroying the reticulan base was just a regular mission was a real putdown. I came loaded for bear and found chickens.
Chapter 3 — Martians & Matriarchs
Released Jun 4 2007, 10:58 AM
My new laser rifles worked like a charm on the robots. The Noob-team I usually send to robot missions got hammered when they encountered robots with double missile launchers. No worries the second time but had a nasty stairway shootout during an excavation mission. Lots of wounded. Rather difficult to get down the stairs when there are ten robots waiting for you.
The Reticulan expedition showed up and invaded all over the place. Had little difficulty cutting them down to size, but did lose a (very valuable) territory as my UFO can only be at one place at a time. They refused peace as long as the original reticulans were still alive. I wiped out the original rets and made an alliance with the expedition. The new alien scientists are coming in very handy. Unfortunately, after I let Olga return to base she still left after a week or two.
I made a total mess of research and production. Basically everyone was either hospitalized, out on a mission or training. Only now have I finally got things up and running decently with adequately staffed labs (3) and workshops (2). Still, it is going very slowly. Doubled my territory size to ca. 40, 20 of which have terraforming stations. Terraforming is up to 20 % and I am beginning to see a decrease in mission environment hostility. I finally have enough decently trained full time soldiers that I can leave people in tactical training and not take them with me in the UFO. If only I could build a second tactical training center...
The martians have been found and my territory now borders theirs. Haven't messed with them yet. I am expanding my territory in a circular fashion, which is the only cost-effective way to do it now. Five more territories to go before I finally arrive at the only territory I am aware of with untapped chemical resources. Then I will finally be able to build my chemical plant. Still lack enough crystal resources to build laser cannons, but I still have two mines left to build, which may finally be enough.
I encountered my first matriarch who turns out to be unhittable at a range over four feet. Simple solution was to simply close in and surround it with guys so it couldn't go anywhere and blast it point blank. No problem.
Also I am thinking about aborting my very first mission (beastmen capture) as I have been defeated six times now. The team I sent was too weak only has a single shotgun and three rifles. The ret I sent with a mind control device is proving useless as the range of the device is extremely short and there is no cover so he can't get close. The tactical situation is crappy. I have to get up a ramp where 20 beastmen are waiting for me. I'm going to get myself some bigger guns for this one. Also had a rather unpleasant mission where I started in a pit surrounded by eight alchemists above me. Can you say 'Death From Above'?
I also have gotten the punker chick tech/soldier. She's doing well :)
TODO List: Chemicals and Crystals, better firepower, learn the Martian language, get any kind of armor for my reticulan soldiers (tried trading with the ret expedition dozens of time, but all they offer is crap).
Evaluation up to now (Lost track of time)
The Good: Finally got some more people, which makes management a lot easier. The maps are more varied than I had expected. The AI has a really nasty tendency to pick on your weakest team members, which requires you to be a bit careful. I really love the way the planet is slowly 'greening'. The game continues to get more difficult with more and more dangerous enemies who are more dangerously armed (acid really hurts).
The Bad: Still too easy on normal. Most of the beastmen bases provide practically zero cover and only make it really hard to maneuver your guys (in heavy suits). Reticulans are completely useless soldiers, except perhaps in a mission with decent cover where their shoot-trough-walls ability and mind control will finally come in handy. As of now the only thing they don't suck at is dying. The ret expedition does not seem to fight the beastmen or expand at all. The planet is turning out to be REALLY big. I probably don't even have 50 % of it yet.
Chapter 4 — Resistance & Resources
Released Jun 13 2007, 02:57 PM
Managed to win the 'impossible' mission I was stuck at and made a lot of progress. I own around 50 territories and 35 terraforming stations. Terraforming is about 40 %. Expansion is becoming very slow. I average about one expansion for every defense mission. I had my first base attack and beat them off with a mostly Noobteam. Still making very slow progress in research and production.
I had a very cool robot excavation mission where I found a lightning ball thrower. When I fought my way inside the mine, I found my way blocked by a wall of 'robot breeding chambers'. I had to blow the wall up with dynamite to proceed to the item. When I opened the final door to the device it turned out that the room was absolutely crowded with robots! My technician had to run (well, speed walk) for his life back to the team! Hilarious :) Since I have that weapon, the reticulan expedition is refusing trade, and I still haven't got any decent ret armour.
The martians attacked me and I had a painful missions trying all kinds of stuff on them until I finally figured out that the only thing that works on them is melee weapons. From then on, martians were a piece of cake. I am leaving them alone and concentrating on the beastmen. I was highly amused by the graphic display of the martians, little green men indeed :)
My science buggy finally arrived at the beastmen territory with the badly needed chemical resource. When I 'liberated' it, it was annexed by the ret expedition before my buggy could claim it. I was furious of course, but at a later date finally managed to claim another chemical resource territory, allowing me to build the chemical plant and warehouse. Also got some more crystal resource so now I am scouting for more metal resource that will allow me to upgrade my power plant again.
I also finally finished the forcefield research, which will hopefully allow me to make more headway again. They take an age to build unfortunately. Also concentrating research on the medium armour which will hopefully solve a lot of my annoyances with the heavy armour.
Beastmen mission are becoming a lot harder with as many as three red matriarchs in one mission. I am now on a 'kill a single enemy' mission where the enemy is the first green matriarch I have seen yet.
TODO List: Metals, forcefield generators, medium armour, better firepower, learn the Martian language, get any kind of armor for my reticulan soldiers.
Evaluation up to now (Lost track of time)
The Good: I just love the martians. The terraforming is great. I love the way the deep valleys and craters on Mars are slowly filling up with water. The game continues to get more difficult (well, only the beastmen really). The patch solves most crash problems. I love to blow people of the edge of cliffs :)
The Bad: Still too easy on normal. Messing around in beastmen bases in heavy suits is becoming more and more annoying. Zero room to maneuver, guys keep getting in each other way. My guys keep walking into enemies making it too dangerous to split the team up. Would like to have fewer battles.
Chapter 5 — Conquest & Caves
Released Jun 25 2007, 01:48 PM
The game was starting to becomes a bit harder with missions with up to 7 of the 'green' matriarchs who have the annoying paralyze ability, but are slightly easier to hit than red matriarchs, or so it appears. Their paralyze ability tends to be fatal for troopers as everyone was wearing heavy suits and were thus blocking up pathways in bases and getting killed as no one could pass them to help them out. I solved that problem by luring the enemies out of their bases and using the 'no room to maneuver' problem against them. Also kitted out all my troopers with a backup laser weapon that solves the matriarch problem very satisfactory. I also once encountered a 'boss' enemy that looked like a giant brown caterpillar-plant. No idea what it was really, but it had a rapid-fire weapon that blew yellow globs at my troopers. It does not show up under research even tough I killed it (eventually) and won the mission.
After I got equipped with forcefields I made a lot of progress again. Just three more missions and I control almost all the territory I want to control. I am leaving everyone a few territories, as I am unsure if the plot requires them to have them or not. I also did the two moon missions. The first one (martian base with lots of mechs) was nice, but the second one (heavily mined asteroid with zero enemies) was pretty annoying. I discovered that defusing mines is buggy :( After defusing the first mine the technician starts to reload his tool (he was carrying another 8*10 defusing kits) and he ended up with all his defusing kits gone. Which was rather nasty on him as thus he became a 'human defusor' and got blown up 15 times or so. The first try on this mission 5 of my troopers got buried alive also, which was pretty amusing actually :) Then I did the 'close all the hyperspace gates' mission which was interesting due to the many (unlimited?) enemies, five reactors to blow up and me bringing almost no explosives. Won after an extremely long battle, with half my soldiers completely out of ammo and swinging their katanas like berserkers. After this mission, Harald retired from active service and I got his daughter Olga to replace him.
I've researched the Martian language, but the Martians still do not appear in the Diplomacy screen. Probably requires another plot trigger. I've contacted Earth and they're sending a space ship so that might be it. The first region on Mars has flooded into a mini-sea. Terraforming is now at 64 % or so and proceeding extremely slow. I've upgraded about half of my mines and build a few rocket and radar bases. I'm awaiting research that will allow me to upgrade the terraforming stations. Still have not managed to acquire armor for my reticulans from the expedition so I never use them, which is too bad really :(
I've conquered most of the planet in basic heavy suits with shotguns, warp cannons and lasers. Only now that just a few missions remain have I finally finished cool stuff like computerized heavy suits, medium suits and weapon-addons (the addons take bloody forever to produce). Still, I don't mind as with these new toys I am really slaughtering the enemy now and it is no challenge anymore (but fun). I can't wait till my advanced medium suits are finished :)
TODO List: Get diplomatic contact with the Martians, have fun with new superpower toys, get any kind of armor for my reticulan soldiers. Finish research and building rest of toys.
Evaluation up to now (Lost track of time)
The Good: I've encountered several more maps, bringing the total of different maps to such a high number that my earlier criticism of the number of maps is now dropped. Now I finally have medium armour the game immediately becomes a lot more fun again. Ambushes, tactical retreats, etc are all possible now. It is nice to slaughter the enemy for a change after all the problematic missions.
The Bad: With my new toys it is now really too easy on normal. The defusing of mines is buggy, which is really annoying as every mission is littered with enemy minefields. The story has become a bit weird with unexplained info. Still a memory leak in the game after patching. The weapon addons take bloody forever to produce.
Chapter 6 — Endgame & Earthlings
Released Jun 29 2007, 12:11 AM
I had a painful time conquering the last couple of beastmen territories, as I only had one guy in each buggy and the moment they showed up to build mines and so on the beastmen launched a counterattack. I sometimes had three attacks each day! A bit too time consuming for a working man. Eventually, I gave it a rest and I took the buggies back to base, loaded them up with guys and build everything at the border in three days. Very gratifyingly, the rocket bases (when the beastmen base was completely surrounded) worked like a charm, intercepting four out of five attacks or so. They tried another base attack on me which failed miserably.
I had to give the martians back a territory as they had none left and I needed to capture one of them for my research. That finally gave me the martian spoken language and diplomatic relations. I also got advanced terraforming (which was stuck at 62 %) and after converting about half the stations is now at 80 %. I researched 'martian-acceptable' terraforming and was told this should end the war, but the martians keep refusing peace. I am unsure why. They have no territories left and the three I had left the beastmen are all conquered by the expedition. The mission from Earth has also arrived, but they are suffering from jet lag or something and needed time to attune to Mars or something. No word of them since. Amusingly, they were talking about moving back to Earth! But we've practically won!
I am not sure what to do now, so I'll just terraform on for now. I've almost upgraded every mine, which hasn't been flooded yet. I've researched everything but the annihilator and lightning balls. I've also finally found a boss corpse, so now I have the complete set I think :) I've finally got EM weapons and gatlings, but I haven't used them yet. One thing I've learned is that light sabres work very badly on the martians themselves, luckily I'd also brought my warp cannons :)
Olga, Harald's daughter, gets double experience AND she also spend 50 % of normal time in training. She's already level 19 or so. Everyone is level 18+ soldier now.
TODO List: Terraform to 100 %, make peace with the Martians somehow, have fun with new superpower toys, get any kind of armor for my reticulan soldiers. Finish research and building rest of toys.
Evaluation up to now (Lost track of time)
The Good: The rocket bases work, which I'm really glad of as I'm just gunning them down now and it is tedious. I can finally play tactical again with the advanced medium suits. The way the terraforming changes the planet is great!
The Bad: With my new toys it is now really too easy on normal. I still have not managed to acquire armor for my reticulans from the expedition.
Chapter 7 — Virus & Victory
Released Jul 2 2007, 12:49 AM
After terraforming for some time the Martians came with a desperate peace offer. They were offering their last remaining country (with their main base on it) and some other stuff in exchange for peace :| I tried it and it actually happened. Martians out of the game. That didn't seem so smart, so I reloaded, refused their offer and later on offered them peace that they accepted. A jumble of trade agreements followed which I foolishly agreed too. I exchanged energy for fuel that meant I could not add the annihilator for my robot to the production queue as that required energy 7. After making peace with the Martians you are not allowed to break it :( You get an attack mission on their base, but it is still peace. Loading a save after that point got rid of the attack mission. It wasn't a big deal as the annihilator guns already in production could be built anyway even tough they also required energy 7 so I left it like that.
I finally managed to get the [censored] battle armors for my rets so they could come out and play. They proved to be very handy, with their mind control, psi sight and psionic healing. Wish I had those armors earlier. (*grumble grumble*)
A little later the beastmen recaptured one of their territories and that gave me a 'rescue a captured alien' mission. That gave me Daisy the Martian as a soldier. I never found out if you can get more Martian soldiers that way as the beastmen never recaptured the territory.
I had fun a few missions and tried out my toys against the beastmen. The gatling guns are groovy, but not very effective. The damage is quite low and it is hazardous to use them with their spread. I tried four of them on the robot with the high-tech turret, but it didn't do all that much damage and your robot is just too vulnerable. I switched to the better-armored turret with one gun and gave him a laser cannon. This worked a lot better. The EM weapons are useless as the beastmen are very resistant to EM. The plasma weapons on the other hand are devastating. The annihilator guns usually give a one-shot kill on a green matriarch. The super-ultimate weapon however is the lightning ball thrower. 100 % accuracy against matriarchs and area effect. So much for the beastmen :)
The Martians informed me that they were not happy with what we were doing with the atmosphere and there was gloomy talk of a possible future war.
I never heard from the laputian faction again.
With nothing left to try out or research I decided to attack the beastmen base, which was a two stage mission. With all the beastmen dead from the 'killer virus' that was brought to me from Earth it was a piece of cake. Amusingly, my robot ran into a mine field and died, but my overkill team made short work of the (very light) opposition.
And so I WON!!! :)
TODO List: Rejoice, for the human race triumphs again!
The Good: An excellent sequel to the disappointing Aftershock (for the record, I love Aftermath). I like the graphics, the story and the setting. I am completely in love with the whole people management system. I like the difference in height levels on the maps (too bad you can't jump). I like the constant helpful advice from your staff. I like the large number of different maps and the excellent way they (and the planet) slowly change by terraforming. I really appreciated the way the opposition got harder as your soldiers got more skilled and better equipped. Using the excellent mods that exist for this game you can change practically anything in the game. More enemies, more different weapons, different graphics, even more kinds of missions. Playing the game with mods is almost a completely different (and even more fun) game.
The Bad: The game is very complex, but even with the tutorial messages and prior ALTAR experience it required a lot of trial and error to figure it out. Building weapon add-ons takes forever. It was extremely annoying that I only got reticulan battle armor two missions before the end of the game. It was pretty annoying that medium armor was so hard to get. The number of weapons available is quite low and a lot aren't effective. It was too bad I could rarely use the robots (after a short time) as they are just too vulnerable. If you want to upgrade a robot so far that it actually is a tad decent it requires an enormous investment in research and production, and even then they die very easily, requiring yet another massive investment. Lastly, there is the minor bug that medic will keep on healing people in advanced medium armor even if they are fully healed. Aside from these, the game is still slightly unstable even after patching.
- Gameplay: 9/10 Excellent, but difficult to get the hang of
- Graphics: 8/10 Nice, but nothing spectacular (ragdoll system still rules tough)
- Sound: 7/10 Lots of nice chatter (love the Ret sounds), but tactical sounds are nothing special. Music is ok.
- Replayability: 9/10 Incredible amount of different ways to play and very good mods available.
- Overall: 8/10 Not so much better as different from Aftermath, a hell of a lot better than Aftershock, with new gameplay concepts not seen before in any X-Com clone games. Highly recommended!