Reviewer: Graham Taylor
I'm glad I didn't have to fight in the Spanish civil war. If the average Spaniard is hard enough to get through After the War, I wouldn't want to tangle with any of them.
It seems to be a factor of Spanish games, and especially the stuff from Dinamic that the playability has been tweaked to the very peak of difficulty. I'm not talking about a few extra obstacles you've got to overcome. Oh no. Playing After the War is more like a set of carefully timed keypresses at precise screen positions than actually playing a game.
The first level is like Target Renegade on steroids. Huge sprites populate a detailed (and therefore confusing) post apocalyptic backdrop. Clad in regulation issue leather jacket and motorcycle boots, you're heading east (well, toward the right hand side of the scrolling screen) and you ain't gonna let nuthin' get in your way.
At least, that's the plan. The reality for me, a weedy Anglo Saxon was a right good hammering every time. The first wave of the bad guys are easy enough after a little practise. Ducking down and punching them in the crotch seems to be the best policy.
If only it was that simple. About half way through the level, the thugs have increased punchability, and take at least two good punches or kicks before they keel over. On top of this, the sneaky swine are lobbing sticks of dynamite at you from windows. If you're within a certain radius when it goes off, you can kiss goodbye to your legs. The hilarity of the "Oh, I've been killed again. I really should have been one pixel further to the right" incidents began to wear thin pretty quickly.
And just when you've got the hang of dodging the dynamite and socking the other boys, you have to fight Mr Big. Well, Mr Bloody Enormous actually. He nearly touches the top of the screen and is even harder than Hard Tim McNoonan after twenty cans of Superlager and a 5-0 defeat for Palace. You can kick and punch and duck and bob for all you're worth, and he simply grabs you by the hair and pummels your face in. It's hardly cricket.
The second level (which I would never have seen were it not for a cheat poke) is a much more enjoyable affair.
You're tooled up with a mega machine-gun and an apparently infinite supply of ammo. Deeper into the enemy sector, life becomes tougher than before, but now you've got the equipment to give you a fighting chance.
Hovvering gun turrets swoop out of the sky and shoot at you. Stationary laser ports zap you when you pass, and mysterious tracking-grenades explode when you need it least.
You can run left and right and raise your gun through steps of 90 degrees, blasting away with ultra-rapid fire the whole time.
Unfortunately, you don't get a moment's peace to plug the machinery, as you're assaulted by hordes of bad guys with rocket launchers and bullet proof suits. You need to hit them with a clean twenty shots before they die.
After a few screens progress, you'll find yourself confronted with a huge mechanoid. One looks like ED 209 from Robocop. These are even more tuff than the rest of the enemy forces, and they bombard you with rockets and machine gun fire. After the War is, in places, both graphically fab and wonky. The playability is definitely there, but it's simply too hard. That's the end of it.
If only the programmers would ease up on their rabid determination to make their games impossible, they could be onto a winner.
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