by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
A jagged history
The Jagged Alliance series have a rocky history. It's almost as if it brings bad luck to its developers and publishers. Developed by Madlab Software and published in 1994 by Sir-Tech (of Wizardry fame), the game was an instant hit. It wasn't so much that it broke the sales records in the first month or anything like that, but it kept selling well for a long time. A group of very loyal fans gathered around the game and gave it a momentum that very few games had in those days. With the release of Jagged Alliance 2 in 1999, this became even stronger as the game opened itself up to the modding community. Fans became evangelists of the Jagged Alliance games and, even today, are actively modding and talking about the game on the major fan sites.
Unfortunately, shortly after the game went gold, Sir-Tech closed its doors. Talonsoft published the finished game after what seemed a tremendously long wait. In the following years, fans were kept in the dark about the fate of the game. A hastily made add-on was released in 2004 but it was 'less of the same' and is generally regarded as a waste of time and money. However, 2004 also brought the news that not one, but two new Jagged Alliance games were under development.
A new beginning?
Confusion all around when publisher Strategy First announced that they had contracted Russian developer MiST land to create Jagged Alliance 3 and Jagged Alliance 3D. Things seemed to be looking up but unfortunately Strategy First ran into financial trouble towards the end of 2004. They fortunately seem to be surviving and, fingers crossed, will publish Jagged Alliance 3D this year. What will happen to Jagged Alliance 3? It's a little unclear as the news that is trickling into the community is contradictory. It appears to be still in the making, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jagged Alliance 3D will be all we'll see for now. For today, lets focus on Jagged Alliance 3D.
Africa, here we come!
After ridding the South American countries of Metavira and Arulco of their dictators, it's now time for mercenary organization A.I.M. to head to Africa's west coast. A small country, recently taken over by 'revolutionaries' funded by the government of a neighboring country. The new leaders are not sitting idly by either. They intend to become a nuclear power. The former government, now in exile, is asking you to overthrow the new regime, prevent it from gaining access to nuclear weapons and to restore the rightful government to power.
You will not be doing this alone. As before, you will be contacting mercenary organization A.I.M. to hire the best available mercenaries, or... The best your finances will afford you to hire.
Playing for the other team
An interesting twist to the main plot is that it's possible to switch sides. There are four main factions in the game and a number of smaller ones. Each has their own agenda but... so do you this time around. At this time, it's unspecified when and how you can switch sides, but apparently the player will have to the ability to do so, depending on choices made earlier in the game. Besides the former government and the revolutionaries, there's mention of a UN contingent, roving bands and ticked-off farmers wanting their land back so that they can go back to their former lives.