After Shock (Interceptor) Review | Amstrad Action - Everygamegoing

Amstrad Action

After Shock
By Interceptor Micros
Amstrad CPC464

Published in Amstrad Action #15

After Shock

This game was previewed last month but a bugged copy prevented me from getting very far. Now Interceptor have kindly sent me a working version - how does it play?

Well, not quite as well as I'd hoped, I have to admit, though there's no doubt that the graphics (and the animation in particular) are superb. Chimneys billow smoke over the shattered city, tankers spill oil, and although the pictures are spread rather few and far between, they do add enormously to the game. Interceptor have really made their name with graphics and this game certainly isn't going to damage their reputation on that score.

However, after you've been playing for half an hour or so, certain weaknesses in the game itself begin to appear. The first is the extreme fussiness of the parser, which makes itself felt right from the beginning of the game. Take this for example: you are caught in a lift and have discovered a panel in the ceiling. Common sense tells you that to escape you need somehow to climb through the panel. Moving, lifting, and pressing the panel have no effect you have to REMOVE PANEL and nothing else will do.

OK, a bit niggly, but not too bad. But then how do you get out of the lift? The panel's invitingly open, but if you enter UP you're told you can't go in that direction'. Nor can you CLIMB THROUGH PANEL, or GO PANEL, or ENTER PANEL, or LEAVE LIFT, or GO OUT or whatever. You have to CLIMB OUT OF THE LIFT and nothing else will do. Now that strikes me as a little hard, and part of a general feeling of weakness in the design of the parser and the vocabulary that also means, for example, that you can't GET objects - you can only TAKE them.

Interceptor have gone to great lengths to answer criticisms of their games especially over the short location descriptions. Certainly the descriptions in Aftershock are much longer than previous titles from this company, but several of them give the impression that they were not written by an inspired author, but rather by someone who kept saying to himself, 'Must have longer descriptions!' and sometimes the length is achieved at the cost of the style.

Similarly, although there are lots of objects about, not many of them are worth examining; in fact most of them are of no use at all in the adventure. This could be a good point, in that the player has to work out which is needed and which isn't -especially since you can't carry much - but it would be nice if they could have more complex roles to play. At one point you can feed the animals in the zoo - a nice touch, but there aren't many more like that.

However, there's no doubt that Interceptor have chosen a good plot idea and the atmosphere of the game is at times quite excellent - especially when you enter the reptile house at the zoo. After playing Leather Goddesses, a game like Aftershock seems terribly limited and one-dimensional - but that, sadly, is a criticism that could be made of most British adventures these days because of our continued reliance on the limited cassette-based format. Aftershock is up with some of the better examples, but let's face it: the standard, with one or two exceptions, isn't that high.

Perhaps you think I'm being over-harsh. If so, please play a few Infocom games and then write and tell me what you think. Even more worrying - play Interceptor's Heroes Of Karn, which must be all of two years old and then ask yourself how much things have improved since then? Personally I'd rate Heroes Of Karn over Aftershock any day, even if only for style and originality. What do other readers think?

The Pilgrim

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