I haven't had the "typical" college experience. My idea of a party is getting a group together to play Dungeons & Dragons every weekend. It may be nerdy, but I believe that it's a good substitute for alcohol, sex, drugs, and snorting ominous black flowers that turn you into monsters, which happens to be the case in Obscure: The Aftermath for the Wii.
The Aftermath is the sequel to high school-based action/horror game from 2005, Obscure. It revolves around the surviving students from Leafmore High, who are now living the college life at Fallcreek University. Alcohol, sex and drugs are among the usual activities in which the students participate. The latest drug to hit the campus turns its users into fat blob-like creatures … wait that's pizza! It turns out that black flowers, which have recent bloomed on campus, are causing people to turn into monsters.
Now it's up to a group of friends to stop this menace. In The Aftermath, there are six characters that you'll control, and each has his or her own unique skills and abilities. Corey is obsessed with his car and has a knack for acrobatics, including jumping and climbing onto high ledges. Mei, Corey's girlfriend, is adept at hacking into security devices. Amy is not only eye candy, but also a master of deciphering cryptic messages. Fighting for Amy's favor are Kenny and Sven, who are both known for their incredible strength, which is useful for pushing boxes and speakers. Finally, Stan's prison life has taught him the ways of picking locks.
Throughout the game, you'll control two characters at once; they're usually chosen for you for story purposes, but there are a few instances where you can choose the characters you want to control. You'll manually control one character, and the other character is controlled by the college dropout AI. You can switch which character you want to control by pressing the + button, which you'll do a lot for puzzle-solving purposes. During combat, you're pretty much on your own, since your computer counterpart will more or less stand around and take the hits or get in your way. If you have a buddy and another Wiimote, then he can jump in and control the other character at any time. The problem with this is the camera focuses on the first player, and if the second player isn't following closely behind you, he'll get left behind.
On the note of combat, the fighting system in The Aftermath mainly consists of holding down the Z button on the Nunchuk and then waggling the Wiimote for melee weapons. Guns require you to hold down Z, aim with the remote cursor, press A to lock on, and press the trigger to fire. Some weapons you find will need to be recharged at a power box, such as the stun gun and chain saw. Some of the locations of the power boxes make sense, such as a hospital or a dormitory, but when you find one in the middle of a forest attached to a tree, I think you're starting to lose touch with reality. The hit detection in the title isn't all that great, especially from a third-person perspective as you swing like crazy and miss an enemy who's standing right in front of you. The game can also get disorienting because you control the camera with the Wiimote, so when you're waggling to attack, the camera is also shaking. In short, it's not quite the best design choice.
Another problem with the combat is that the enemies take forever to defeat, and in the meantime, they just annihilate you. In addition, since you have two characters, if either of them dies, the game's over. This will happen more often if you're stuck with a brain-dead computer ally. There are plenty of health resources, but since you take so much damage, you'll exhaust them all before you really need them. You'll eventually acquire a syringe to absorb the remains of the foes that you down, and after absorbing five of them, you'll be able to make a serum for restoring health.
When you're not getting pummeled in combat, you'll be running around the college solving puzzles via each character's special abilities. For example, there may be a high ledge that has a switch to open a door, but Corey can't quite reach it with his jumps, so you'll use Kenny to push a box over toward the ledge, after which Corey will climb on top and reach the ledge. Amy's cryptic puzzles involve dusting off torn pieces of paper and reassembling them like a jigsaw puzzle. Mei's hacking abilities more or less involve solving a word jumble that spells out a famous person in history, such as Picasso or Einstein. To add to this, while diligently working on a puzzle, you may also be under attack by an endless fleet of monsters, which can affect your concentration. Other actions, such as operating a lever or lifting someone up to a ledge, require waggle actions to satisfy the motion-sensitive needs of the Wii. Overall, the exploration portion of the game isn't all that interesting.
The story is brought to life from the dialogue during cut scenes and various conversations during the gameplay. The character voices are okay, but not amazing. You can tell that the characters are college kids based on the sexual innuendo-laden dialogue. Even when you find items, they say something perverted. For instance, when you find a handgun, Kenny says something like, "I guess I won't be shooting off my load tonight …." My mind isn't exactly angelic, but even I found some of these innuendos to be unnecessary. You won't have to suffer their hormone-driven tendencies for long, as most of the cast will end up dying in some shape or form during the game. (It's a horror title, so that can't come as too much of a surprise.) The other sound effects are pretty typical, such as gunshots and monster roars.
Complementing the voices and sound is a decent soundtrack that consists of either cheesy rock music that represents the college life or typical survival horror ambiance background music. Graphically, the game looks like your typical PS2/Wii game, with pre-rendered cut scenes that are decent but not too impressive.
All in all, Obscure: The Aftermath is a hodgepodge of poorly implemented design ideas and sub-par horror elements. While it can be a fairly decent co-op game, you'll need some luck finding someone who'll stick around long to endure this horror of a game.
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