by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
Having a swing at it
Jagged Alliance fans have followed the various bumbled attempts at restoring the franchise to its full glory with ever increasing dismay. Only Back in Action came close but missed the turn-based component to really make it a Jagged game.
A successful Kickstarter campaign led by Danish developer Full Control convinced current IP owner BitComposer to hand over the reins and let them have a swing at it. I was excited, but remained nervous throughout the game’s development. Part of that was due to the lacklustre gameplay in Full Control’s last game Space Hulk. Yet CEO Thomas Lund impressed in his Kickstarter video. He said all the right things and showed a truly deep understanding of what Jagged Alliance was all about.
If I had not picked up on that understanding back then, I would have at Gamescom. When we sat down, I told Thomas that I was a backer and hopeful but not fully convinced. He promised to change that over the course of our meeting. He certainly went a long way.
Making it jagged
Jagged Alliance: Flashback’s core mechanics are now solid - they will receive some tweaks here and there but no big changes are planned. This means the team is now focusing on polish and content. Of the former, the recently added day and night cycle looks absolutely gorgeous, and the weather system showed its prowess during a heavy downpour. Both will affect how far in the distance your mercenaries are able to see, while opening up new opportunities as well. A heavily defended sector could be impenetrable in broad daylight, but a pushover for a night vision-goggle and silencer equipped team of hardened mercenaries.
Initially, Full Control said the game would launch with only one ammo type but I was glad to hear that additional types such as hollow point ammo will be in right from the start. The reticule-based spending of action points to increase aim will also make its return, as is the interrupt system. The latter will tie in with character stats and skills and have a time-limited imposed on it. Mercs will be able to shoot or use items from their quick-slots (think grenades) but won’t be allowed to use inventory items. Lightly armoured mercs will have a better chance of interrupting, and will also have more quick slots than those burdened down by heavy, freedom of movement limiting armour.
Sectors can be upgraded with a variety of buildings. Think firing ranges to speed up the training of militia units, repair stations where items too broken to fix in the field can be mended, and field hospitals that can patch up your mercs quickly before returning to active duty.
I simply cannot let my hopes up too much before actually playing the game, but I have to say that Full Control seems to be doing everything right. Destructible environments, an improved dialogue system, a starter island to help beginning players get the hang of things, the ability to train militia, an AI promised to be smart enough to actively assault sectors you control...
Jagged Alliance: Flashback has everything we could want in a Jagged game. Everything that made the original games great returns, and only when old gameplay mechanics fall short, new appropriate ones are used to replace them. What more could we wish for?