This is an old article from my old site illiteratereviews.com
With the upcoming release of Jagged Alliance: Back in action, and Jagged Alliance online, I thought I might take a few moments, to talk to you all about, possibly my favourite game of all time.
Jagged Alliance 2 (JA2), is an isometric turn based strategy game released in 1999. Its the game I use to show people that core gameplay will trump GFX every time.
You take on the roll of a mercenary commander tasked by a disposed king, Enrico Chilvadory, to help retake the tropical Island of Arulco, from which he has been exiled by his wife, (who turns out to be a bit of a nutter). This game contains some light RPG stylings, so the first thing you do, is fire up your laptop, and open your email, and apart from some spam (yes spam even exists in this fake world), you have an email from a group called IMP (International Merc Profiling (if my memory serves me well)), offering to profile you for a small sum of money. So you open your laptops browser, and go to the IMP site, enter the code, and answer some odd, and at times downright surreal questions, the answers to which shape your in game merc’s skills and personality.
Once you have sorted your merc, you can head on over to hire some additional merc’s from AIM, a company dedicated to providing world class merc’s at affordable prices.
After selecting your first couple of merc’s its off to Arulco proper, to start taking back the island.
You will be dropped in a rather run down town called Omerta, where you are tasked with linking up with the local insurgents/rebels. But first you need to kill a couple of the queens army. Before you spot or the enemy spot you, the game plays out in real time, as soon as you wander into an enemy’s site line, or you spot an enemy the game drops to turn based.
Each of your mercs has a set number of action points (AP’s) per turn with which to move around the landscape, and take pot shots at the soldiers. The controls are nice and simple, select a merc with the left mouse button, right click on an empty tile, to have the merc walk there, or right click on an enemy to determin how many ap’s you want to spend on aiming at them. And this is where the tactical depth starts to show, imagine, you have a merc, who walks round a corner and finds an enemy with his back to you. At this point, you only have enough AP to either crouch and fire one round into the guys head, or to walk back round the corner, thus keeping the element of surprise. Well lets imagine you decide to put a round into the back of the soldiers head, so you crouch down, take aim, and then end up killing the guy. Feeling good arnt ya. Well now its time to hit the end turn button and see what the AI has up its sleeve. Lo and behold, that guy you just filled full of lead, had a mate, and he is not happy that you just murdered garry… So he wanders round the corner, and unloads 4 rounds into your merc’s chest. oh dear..
And that’s how the game will play out, with each situation making you think two or three steps ahead.
Once you have made contact with the rebels, your next task will be to free the local regional airport from the queen, so you can start bringing in bigger and better weapons and armour. This game is an arms dealers wet dream, with the tons of guns option selected, Bobby Rays Guns and things, is filled with every type of small arm’s known to man, each lovingly detailed, and recreated.
JA2, is a big big game, the map alone is a 16×16 grid, and battles can take upto an hour to fight through, ontop of that you have to manage captured (or should that be free’d) town militia, train your mercs and defend free’d towns from counter attacks, on top of that, if Enrico thinks your taking too much time or not progressing fast enough, towns you have free’d will start to waiver, and at times revert back to the queens rule.
So why might you ask do I think this is one of best games ever released?, well its easy, the game play is second to none, the dialogue contains some laugh out loud moments, and the fact the game changes on every replay, gives you un-ending re playability.
Go out and pick up a copy now, and once you have, let me know how you get on. Also check out theV1.13 mod to make a great game even better.