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I own a heck of a lot of games, and as a result I tend to play only a very short amount of any random one before the next one comes along. While I would like to get over this and finish more of the games I own, in the meantime I have started Snap Judgement to make use of the impressions I get from the start of a game. I do believe that the start of a game is one of it’s most important parts, and if it doesn’t catch you, then even if the end of it is awesome, you’re not likely to continue on. Hopefully my comments and opinions will help someone on the fence about trying a game!

Amount Played for Review: ~90 minutes
Platform: PC (Steam)

Jagged Alliance is a long and storied game series, that even with all it’s problems manages to grab my attention. Something about the kind of game it is always fascinates me, even if the game itself has problems.

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is a remake of Jagged Alliance 2, using modern technologies and design. Though the game does still have it’s own deep rooted problems because of the nature of what it is in the first place. I’ll get to that point later.

The largest change between Jagged Alliance 2 and Back in Action is the change of the battles from being turn-based to real-time. The change turns out to be kind of awkward, though, as in the time I was playing my mercs would often get confused about how they were positioned and whether that was actually a mean bad guy barrelling down on them with an axe.

However, they do include a “Command Mode” system where you can pause time and give orders to your mercs that way. It even allows for you to sync some actions together, such as making some mercs wait to open fire until all of your team is in position. The problem is that it doesn’t activate auto-fire, whereas an attack command in real-time mode does. There arn’t time units or anything to worry about in Command Mode, so you just might as well add more then enough fire commands to kill the target.

The basic goal of Back in Action is the same as Jagged Alliance 2; the deposed leader of Arulco has hired a band of mercenaries to take back his country from the ruthless dictator that ousted him.

To do this, you need to hire mercenaries and take over key areas of Arulco in order to make money and keep the people happy. And this is kind of where the first problem comes in, which was also true in the original game. See, even the low level mercs you can hire tend to come with mid-range weapons, while enemies drop very low level ammo. And since most mercs only come with one clip for their weapons, the early game is REALLY HARD as you need to hope that you don’t run out of ammo before you can even unlock the ability to airlift anything into the country, let alone have a real source of income!

Now, Back in Action does throw the player a bit of a bone, because there is a vendor in the first mission area that sells some weapons and ammo. Not a lot, but should be enough to keep the weapons your mercs come with going until you clear the second mission area.

Speaking of mission areas, unlike Jagged Alliance 2, Back in Action’s island map isn’t separated into grid squares, though I imagine that under the hood there’s still some “grid square maps” for encounters in specific areas or random encounters in the jungle. I didn’t manage to run into a random encounter while I was playing, though.

Back in Action feels to me like a game where they wanted to make it look new, but didn’t want to go all the way to making it accessible. That said, it may not necessarily be a bad thing; people still love to play X-Com, which is also a game that likes to screw you right out of the gate. I just find it a bit frustrating to be so far behind from the get-go, personally. That said, Back in Action does seem like a good update of Jagged Alliance 2, so if some of the AI oddities can be resolved it should be a pretty good game for people who like this sort of thing.


Full Reviews:

Giant Bomb: Quick Look


    • Axe Wielding Enemy
    • Posted February 12, 2012 at 9:32 am
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    This game would be fine, had it not been named Jagged Alliance.

    Axes are bullshit, and not being able to shoot a man carrying an axe as he charges towards you is too.

  1. Hm? You can shoot the guy, it’s just… a bit awkward if you’re trying to play it in real-time, and turn-based includes wind-up times for actions. Likewise, the charger needs a wind-up time to attack, as well.

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