Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business
Terrorist forces hired by an evil corporation attack the small nation of Arulco. Intent on nothing less than the harvest of all the mineral resources the young country has to offer, the Ricci Mining and Exploration Corporation will stop at nothing to possess that which they cannot own. Originally in charge of mining before Arulco’s recent civil war (detailed in the events of Jagged Alliance 2), Ricci Mining wants those mines back.
They’ve hired a small band of terrorist thugs and erected a missile base in the nation of Tracona, one of Arulco’s nearest neighbors. From this missile base, Ricci Mining has destroyed the uninhabited prison complex at Tixa, as a threat to Arulco’s fledgling democracy. Your friend, Enrico Chivaladori, the same man who needed your help to win his country’s freedom, has called you back again, this time to fight for their independence, lest it be crushed as quickly as it rose.
As the successful mercenary commander who helped Arulco gain freedom, you’ve been given the chance to re-enter the dangerous world of the mercenary, making a living by fighting small covert wars for the highest bidder. Arulco is so small that they don’t have an army. They’ve bought your loyalty because it was the only thing they could afford. Will you repay them with a job well done or an upturned cheek?
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business is broken into two different gameplay segments. Both are equally important to the game and one of their best features is the fact that there isn’t anything extraneous or unneeded to get in your way.
First are the administration screens, in which you use your laptop to answer email, surf the internet, and browse websites. Through these websites you’re able to hire mercenaries, custom chosen based on your needs, or even gather intelligence through a reconnaissance company, providing you with vital information for your next mission. Once you’ve chosen your team and scouted out your area of operations, you’ll be able to jump straight into your team management screen. This allows you to control your team, in as far as bringing particular mercenaries on the mission, and handles all of your over-ground movement, representing your cross-country progress with a grid-marked satellite map. As you proceed through the game, you’ll encounter new territories and enemies in this screen. You’ll then have the choice to go to the second stage of gameplay, combat.
The meat and potatoes of Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business is its combat engine. Not particularly pretty, it gets the job done with a complex rule based tactical strategy engine. Each of your mercenaries has a host of abilities, equipment, and status indicators, and they’ll engage similar, computer controlled enemies, intent on destroying them. Every one of your characters is allotted a certain number of action points each round. These action points allow them to move, shoot, or even use sophisticated equipment. After a short while, you may notice the similarities between this engine and the one used in the Fallout games, although Unfinished Business uses a significantly more detailed one.
Whenever you’re given a chance to shoot an opponent, the game performs calculations based on what type of weapon you’re using, sight distance, your merc’s skill, and even cover. Movement is similarly important in the battle, since you’re looking at an isometric view of a grid map and cover is extremely important in avoiding being shot. You’ve got a host of convenient hotkeys, allowing you to switch between mercs, weapons, and even a key that allows you to see all of the best cover options in the local area, so you don’t have to guess where to hide.
Unfinished Business, much like its bigger brother the original Jagged Alliance 2, uses a fixed, isometric view of the action, pre-rendered in 16-bit color. Not particularly nice to look at, many of the screens, including the interface and administration screens, have old, blocky graphics. Rather than sporting a detailed, polished, high-resolution interface, Unfinished Business gets by with low-resolution screens that pack your necessary information into a very small space.
Soundtrack: Nada. Sound effects: Nothing to write home about. Voice acting: Poor quality, with short samples that don’t give you a chance to get a good feel for the character. I’d been hoping for a little good audio work to add a 3rd dimension to this game, but it was a bit much to wish for, especially given the results.
P133 or better, Windows 95/98, 32 MB of RAM, 16-bit capable video card, 2x CD-ROM drive and a Windows 95/98-compatible sound card.
Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business will be a worthwhile game for those of you who have already played the first two games. Having eliminated many of the RPG elements that made the older titles good, prepare for a knockdown, drag out firefight that’ll leave you weary of mercenary style combat for many weeks to come.
Combined with repetitive gameplay where you march, fight, march, fight, rearm, again and again, this game can get pretty boring at times. The only outstanding feature I could find were its relatively low system requirements. Ultimately, I don’t see it being enjoyed by anyone but the original fans of the series.