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Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Review (PC)

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Review (PC)

I had no idea even what type of game this was. I had stayed away from reading or watching anything about it as I reckon it makes it easier to review games without and preconceptions. When the game first starts up it plays a video of an army roaming into a dusty desert village with a tank, and opening fire on the civilians. A single shot is fired back from a bell tower (why a village with only 2 other visible buildings has a church with a bell tower isnt explained, maybe its a missionary settlement), however the shooter has terrible aim and the bullet lands miles away from the Generals feet. This is clearly an insult not only to him but his entire family, pets, and his belief system, so he calmy waves his hand, motioning the tank to open fire. Lovely… From the opening video I could only guess this game is a FPS or more likely an RTS.

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is a remake of Jagged Alliance 2 that came out originally in 1999. The development team at bitComposer Games tried to stay true to the spirit of the original, but changes were made, including the removal of the fog of war and an increased emphasis on real time rather than turn based combat. By pausing the game at any time you can give commands in a system called “Plan and Go”.

I’m greeted with a fairly simple main menu, mostly black with a couple of pictures added to try and spice it up (it didn’t). I click New Game and another video starts with 2 guys meeting on a foggy bridge very Mission Impossible style. One man tells the other that he wants him to kill somebody in exchange for some diamonds. At which point I ask: What bloody use are diamonds for payment for an assassination? “Yes I’d like to trade this diamond for a sniper rifle” isnt quite gonna work. After that thought, another occured: what the hell did this have to do with the opening video? Im sure it’ll all be explained as I play the game, right?

With no form of tutorials I was a bit hesitant about jumping right into the “action”, but I do what I must. The game starts up and tells me I must hire some agents to complete my mission. Wait, I have a mission? The only 3 options I have is the Start Mission which was greyed out (no real explanation why, I can only guess it was because I have no agents), a button with a cog on it, generally suggesting the options menu, and a button with a laptop on it (which is normally used to represent “options” in other games, but I wont get too much into that). I click the laptop and see that I have 4 emails regarding the mission I recieved during the second video. The emails dont explain anything to do with the game, just some back story to the mission. Randomly clicking on buttons in this menu takes me to a choice of agents I can hire. With no idea what the mission involves I choose to hire a single agent with the averag-est stats possible. She turned out to be a glamour model of some sort for Guns and Girls magazine… I had to call her to hire her, but the call turned into her saying hello and me clicking hire or hangup. Why the hell was this necessary? The call went through the stupid dial up modem noise to show me a terrible video quality of her face and 2 options. Why make someone wait 15 seconds to confirm their original choice? The only reason I can see behind this was if there was some sort of dialogue you can have with your agents, but if that was the case why make the calls with no dialogue so long?

Ok, I’ve not even started playing the proper game yet and it’s already annoyed me. Going into the mission the game loads up a forest surrounding a small military encampment with several buildings and enemies. I run my glamour model into the middle of the camp, gun ablazing. The first enemy she encounters runs up and kills her with 2 swings of an axe. So much for my suprise attack stratergy. With my only agent dead I was expecting a death screen of some sort, but no, I sit there looking at my dead agent for a bit until I open the menu and load from an auto save. Luckily it managed to auto save from when the combat started! Huzzah! So I load from there but annoyingly it reloads the entire level, meaning you have to sit and wait ages for a silly mistake. Once it had finished loading, everything was paused and I was able to queue up actions for my agent. If only there’d been some sort of walkthrough to show me this was possible. We could even call it a tutorial! I tell my agent to run back a bit and shoot at the fastly approaching axeman, which is what my agent does. She ran back to where I pointed and shoots at the enemy once. NO NOT ONCE, KILL THE BUGGER! But no, she fires once and gets an axe to the face. I reload (yet another wait), tell my agent to run back and spam shoot the guy. She is finally able to kill the crazed axe wielding madman, but the whole commotion has attracted more guys who have guns this time. Needless to say I die again and have to reload. I choose from the level start this time and…. You know what screw it. This game wasnt fun. It was endless trial and error, with a long wait for ever error you made. Im sure the mission would have been easier if I’d hired more agents, but a limited budget and no idea how many I’d need for the sodding mission I didnt want to risk it.

I’ve just totally ranted over a game thats being tested havent I? No, no I havent. They’re releasing this thing today. If its released in this state the only people that are gonna enjoy it are the people that loved the original so much that ridiculous game design decisions aren’t going to make them go on a witch hunt. If you’re looking for a tactical squad based game Frozen Synapse is still an outright winner in my mind. Jagged Alliance is slow, difficult and poorly designed. I got absolutley no enjoyment out of it what-so-ever, except from the fairly childish things like finding a hardcore lesbian magazine. The game was slightly pretty, but my god was it badly designed!

2 Jagged-knives-to-my-brain out of 10

MOAR FROM CALMDOWNTOM!

8 Comments

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  1. Ivan Dolvich says
    03/04/2012, 12:43 PM

    I played the original JA to death, I also kind of enjoyed JA2 apart from the stupid sci-fi aliens crap. BIA is a poorly implemented rehash with so many glaring ommisions and design flaws that I couldn’t even bring myself to complete the first mission. Clunky controls that can’t be remapped, horrible camera controls, no fog of war. They’ve stripped out anything that made the origanal game enjoyable, including quite incredibly the turn based combat, and what’s left sadly doesn’t cut it.

    The squad based tactical turn based genre is still dead, RIP.

  2. Daniel C says
    02/13/2012, 7:37 PM

    First of all I’m very positive that you have never played the original JAs. I grew up playing this game with my friend on an old ass Pentium 1 computer. At that time this game was amazing. We’ve spent hours and hours. I Pre-ordered this game because I wanted to relive my childhood memories again. I played this game for about 7-8 hours now and I can tell you this: for people that have played Jagged Alliance in the past and is a big fan of the franchise, well be somewhat surprised in this game. Its not your typical turn based strategy game. Its like a hybrid.

    So far I like this game, I feel that it could have been better but i’m hoping that they will release an expansion.

    From my POV this game is NOT BAD at all. IN my books I will give it an 8/10. One thing that bugs me the most is how often you have to save and there is also a bug that i hope they will fix asap.

    If you are a fan, go out there and buy it, its worth it IMO.

  3. Splatter says
    02/13/2012, 1:40 PM

    OMG

    Did you ever understand the meaning of Squad Team based ?
    It means to use more than 1 Merc

    Also Manuals are things to read wich could explain how the Game is played
    I don´t like BIA that much and personaö I think Jagged Alliance 2 1.13 is much better but your so called review is a joke

  4. uur says
    02/13/2012, 12:48 AM

    calm down tom… omg biggest troll review of all times. Sorry dude but if you don’t know how to review a game, or what types of games you can review, please don’t review games. Maybe it’s better for you to start with Modern Warfare 3. Controls: WASD and mouse… Well… I guess you can manage that. I trust you!

  5. Pablos says
    02/12/2012, 4:43 AM

    I agree with your post, that’s my general first impression of the game. You forgot to say that the controls are terrible and that the keys can’t be remapped and that you can’t scroll around the map when placing your mouse cursor at the edge of the screen. The so called tutorial is very badly explained and the very first mission is uncommonly hard / steep learning curve. And I also agree, what the hell, I’m more affraid of those men running with axes than the ones with guns!

  6. ed butler says
    02/11/2012, 5:06 PM

    You are without doubt the shittest reviewer of all time. I have read reviews that criticized this game and they are far better than yours. This game is for intelligent adults. Not incompetent fools. You didn’t even read the instructions for this game.

    Your review clearly shows you are incapable of playing even slightly complex games and should be prevented from reviewing any further titles. Your words are literally poison to read.

    Good day to you sir. Retard.

  7. Profile photo of Aeacus
    Aeacus says
    02/10/2012, 7:59 PM

    I wrote most of this article on my phone whilst I was stuck on a train, so I apologise for the spelling errors.

    When I played the game the tutorial option wasn’t there. Looking now there appears to be one so the game must have updated between me playing and looking now.

    Did the game ever explain that the budget was for the one mission? Unless it says in the tutorial I had no idea how long the money had to last.

    I dont understand why there would be a waiting time to reload. Why did it need to reload the entire level to go back at most 20 seconds of game?

    I did complete the first mission. It was a pain in the arse. Admittedly I appear to have made it harder than necessary.

    And when precisely did game journalism ever require a brain exactly? And what about this review made you believe I didnt have one?

  8. Lenny Rodders says
    02/10/2012, 7:37 PM

    Spelling mistakes everywhere in this article, are you by any chance around the age of say… 15?

    There IS a tutorial, clearly stated on the Main Menu if you took the time to look at it.

    The ‘budget’ you were talking about allows you to hire at LEAST 4 people. (I hired 3 people and completed the mission easily)

    If one of my agents dies, I load the game again, and it takes about 5 seconds to load the level again. So I shudder to think what specs your computer has…

    You also didn’t even bother to complete the first mission before rating the whole game?

    Wow, I remember when game journalism and rating games actually required a brain.

    Not sure why I’m bothering to reply to this troll but hey.

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