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Android  header logo

Aftermath XHD


For: Android

They only come out at night

Product: Aftermath XHD | Developer: In-house | Publisher: TwoHeads Games | Format: Android | Genre: Action | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
 
Aftermath XHD Android, thumbnail 1
After a glut of movies and, of course, videogames all centred around brain-hungry shuffling corpses, it’s often hard to recapture what made zombies scary in the first place.

Yet Aftermath XHD, while taking many design cues from Valve’s PC and console mega hit Left 4 Dead, still manages to unsettle thanks to one, essential, ingredient - atmosphere.

Its innate creepiness stems from the simple fact that zombies in daylight are easy to spot, yet zombies at night can creep up on you like Splinter Cell’s Sam Fisher through an air vent.

And, along with perpetual rain and stormy flashes of lightning, there’s a haunting little piano motif that - when playing on headphones - never fails to put you on edge.

Aim for the head

While it’s true that Aftermath is simply a spruced up HD-textured version of one of iOS’s early gems, this XHD version is exclusively coded for Gingerbread-stuffed Android phones and optimised for Sony’s Xperia Play - for bonus physical controller points.

With no backstory apart from brief, one sentence introductions to each level, the game casts you as an apparently lone survivor of a zombie apocalypse.

Perhaps unwisely, you have decided to make a break for safety across the city under the cover of darkness and rain, armed only with a weak pistol and torch.

Movement is handled by a responsive virtual thumbstick on the left, with aiming handled by waving your torch in circles using a second stick on the right.

Once an enemy is illuminated and within range, then - BANG - the auto-firing kicks in and turns targeted monsters into red splats on the pavement.

Fire and forget

The firing system, while accurate and responsive, feels eccentric at first, but once you’ve completed the tutorial and the forgiving early stages you’ll be zipping with ease between the horde using the rechargeable 'sprint' button, and picking off the undead like a dead-eye pro.

As the slender story escalates, however, the volume of zombies quickly increases and new, tougher enemies emerge to really mount up the pressure.

With a generous nod to Left 4 Dead, there are Spewer zombies that gob deadly goo in your direction and monkey-like Screamers that clamber over obstacles to pounce when you least expect it, while even the basic hordes can quickly overwhelm if they get too close.

Fortunately, most levels introduce new and significantly more powerful weapons for you to blow out brains with - like the horde-splattering shotgun and grenades that annihilate clusters of foes whenever things start to get out of hand.

Short lifespan

Aftermath XHD is not without its issues, however, and most stem from the flaws of the iOS original.

The near isometric camera, while doing a smart job of concealing enemies in the distance, has a disorientating tendency to flail around and switch angles unnecessarily when you need it most.

While five extra stages, stretched over a larger city map, have been added to the Android version to flesh out the story, at around an hour long (unless you get stuck) the XHD edition is still a slim package.

There’s some re-playability to make up for it, including a chance to score-attack unlocked levels and a sweaty thumb-inducing Survival mode (where you have to scavenge for weapons to see off endless hordes), but, disappointingly, there’s no way to compare high scores with other players.

So, while it remains an engrossing, moody spin on the zombie action template, Aftermath XHD’s appeal is most likely to be dead by dawn.
 
Aftermath XHD
Reviewer photo
Paul Devlin | 17 June 2011
A chilling, unsettling zombie game that sinks its teeth in quick but doesn’t last long enough to really satisfy
 
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