by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Change and controversy (cntd)
Another significant change is found on the campaign map. Sector boundaries are more organic and don’t have fictional walls. The map is littered with towns, road blocks, missile sites and other places of interest and removing every soldier from a location gives you control over the surrounding area as well. Soon, a patchwork of red and green circles indicates where you rule and where there is still work to be done. Taking away the sector squares changes travel as well. You can now move between sectors, skirting along or even between borders without having to engage in combat.
Small, but noticeable
Healing can be done ‘in the field’ and mercenaries can be patched up fully in the midst of combat. Jagged Alliance purists may find this less realistic, and I’m not quite sure what to make of it myself yet – I’ll let you know in the review – but there is no doubt that it allows the player to focus on the tasks at hand. Another change is a downgrade in weapon modifications. You can attach factory made items such as scopes and silencers to your weapons but you can no longer strap home-brew spring coils to them and you are limited to one attachment only. Arming the population on the other hand, is a bit more complete as you are now able to equip militia with armor, helmets and weapons individually.
You will find ‘the good stuff’ (read: the weapons you want) a lot earlier in the game than you would expect, but they’ll cost you. There are more trading partners living in Arulco and they are better supplied as well. They will buy whatever you find in the field, at least until they are flat broke. And if you haven’t spent all your cash on the high-rolling mercs, they will provide a more junior team with the proper field attire and better killing tools within days of their arrival. And you’ll need it too, especially when the queen gets upset and starts sending elite troopers to take back the locations you have wrested from her hands.
The quest system has been improved considerably. It is easier to see which NPC is worth talking to and your laptop has a neat list of open and completed quests to help keep track of what to do next. Completing quest doesn’t seem to add any experience, but there is plenty to be gained through shooting baddies. Leveling up means spending experience points in areas such as strength, dexterity, marksmanship and medical and because you can spend these freely, you will feel a little more in control of how your mercs progress.
Jagged, 99 percent
A fan from the very beginning, I’ve avidly followed the Jagged Alliance franchise rollercoaster ever since Sir-Tech folded. Strategy First, Mistland, Akella and Game Factory all tripped over the task of resurrecting the series and so it was with some trepidation that I ventured into this preview build. But with every hour that I spent with the game – instead of sitting around the Christmas tree surrounded by loved ones – the conviction that Kalypso and bitComposer had actually done it became stronger and stronger. Jagged Alliance: Back in Action brings changes and some may not appreciated by everyone. Yet the biggest, the new Plan and Go system, became an integral part of my playing style and the lack of turns and action points faded into memory. As contradictory as it may seem, however, I’m still convinced that the game would be just as much fun to play in turn-based mode as it is in the new semi real-time format. I say this because almost every other aspect of the game has faithfully followed the Jagged Alliance 2 blueprints, and I’m 99% sure that Back in Action has taken the game where Sir-Tech would have wanted the franchise to be today, had they been at the reins.
Jagged Alliance is indeed, Back in Action.