The UFO:Aftermath demo is out today and worth checking out. This is sort of the unofficial sequal to X-COM. I haven’t played it much yet, but some things strike me immediately:
1. the attributes and character development is more detailed than the original X-COM which is great.
2. the combat is pausable real-time instead of turn-based which is okay, I guess, but you don’t get the same sense of urgency and motivation to maximize your efficiency… you spend less time thinking about what you should do and instead just sort of move your guys around… power in numbers here instead of strategy.
3. NO enterable buildings meaning no destructable walls and floors! and no varying levels of elevation! WTF??
This coupled with the fact that no significant gains in user interface have been implemented despite this being 9 years after the original came out might make this game dead in the water.
That is just too bad, but to semi-make up for it is the Silent Storm demo. This is another squad based tactical combat game this time set in WW2. The missions are pre-made instead of random like in X-COM or UFO: Aftermath so it might not have that much replayability, but I could see the UFO: Aftermath missions getting stale really fast. A bonus is that Silent Storm is supposed to come out with a level editor so the fan-made list of missions might make up for the non-randomness. This game is truely turn-based except during non-combat periods and it also features a skill system similar to Diablo 2. Actually, if UFO: Aftermath is an unofficial sequal to X-COM then Silent Storm is the unofficial sequal to Jagged Alliance 2, except that it carries the legacy on quite well. It’s always fun shooting nazis, after all.
UFO:A comes out later this month while Silent Storm comes out Q1 2004. At this point, I’d wait for UFO:A to hit the bargain bin but getting Silent Storm as it is released would be a safe bet.