by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Maps & Finances
The battlefield will consist of around twenty maps and each map is promised to be different than the others. Although the maps are 'sown' together and are part of an overall map, you're not holding territory in the same sense as you did in the originals. Your finances for example, are not dependent on income generated from captured territory. Each map has a mission in store for you and after successfully completing it, you are awarded a sum of money that you can use to buy new weapons, ammo and other items. It will also be possible to sell items found during the mission but whatever you do, you should always keep an eye on the pay check. Mercenaries, being mercenaries and all, expect to be paid.
Hiring and firing mercs is a good way to improve the quality of your squad but mercenaries also improve as they gain experience. A well managed and promising mercenary may in the end be one of your most valuable assets. A maximum of 16 mercenaries can be on the battlefield at once but this only happens in some missions. The maximum squad size is 4 mercs but for some of the more epic missions it will be possible to get more than one squad on the map at a time.
Jagged in 3D?
The biggest change for the series is that it will retire the 2D engine completely and make use of a 3D one instead. Judging a book by its cover I would say that despite the change to a 3D and perspective are impacting the formula very much. If the developers can hold on to the original Jagged Alliance feel, the fans will be a lot more forgiving about loosing the 2D engine. A definite plus of using the 3D engine is that almost everything can be destroyed, as long as you have the firepower. The old maps could look like a disaster area but this time maps you have fought on might look even messier!
It should also make it possible to use the terrain to your advantage as never before. Line of sight becomes a more 'elastic' concept where ditches, hills and flat lands, bushes etc, each have a completely different impact on how visible your mercs are. Trees, walls and other features continue to remain important places to hide in but the new engine should add a whole new dimension to stealth, visibility and protection.
Other changes are planned too. The traditional turn-based play that we know and love from the previous games in the series, will not return in Jagged Alliance 3D. It will be replaced by what the developers call a 'smart pause' function that will allow you to stop the game and reconsider your options, but little more than that. The RPG stats have been overhauled to fit the new style of gameplay and the storyline has become a lot more important than before.
It's interesting to me how the developers are balancing between working with the new 3D environment and keeping the original spirit of the game. They're saying that they want to keep Jagged's ambiance but at the same time, Jagged 3D is an experiment that is not necessarily the sequel in the series. For that, we will have to wait for Jagged Alliance 3 but if that will ever appear? Who knows. How all of these changes will work out is hard to tell; it may alienate some of the existing fans, but it may also pull in a lot of new players. Time will tell.