Jagged Alliance 2
|a game by||Sirtech|
|Editor Rating:||6.5/10, based on 1 review|
|User Rating:||8.0/10 - 1 vote|
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Although entitled Jagged Alliance 2, this Is actually the third instalment in the series, following on from the original Jagged Alliance and its expansion disc The Deadly Games. This outing is a team and turn-based role-playing, strategy and resource management affair, an ambitious melding of genres that plays superficially like Commandos, but demonstrates strong X-COM 3: Apocalypse leanings too.
Scouring The Net
Controlling up to three squads of six mercenaries, you're tasked with organising and executing a military coup on behalf of a deposed foreign government. Looking at the screenshots, you're no doubt balking at the sight of such dated isometric 3D graphics (which belong somewhere back in 1996). However, beneath the shoddy exterior is some remarkably lifelike animation, and a control interface approaching perfection, turning what could have been a multiple keypress nightmare into a game you can control almost entirely with a mouse.
The front end is a mock-up of a laptop computer that provides access to an Internet scarier than the real thing. It's here that you can browse the personal statistics of an army of mercenaries (stats which, for a change, have a massive bearing on their performance), hire goons and acquire arms. You soon learn that mercenaries are a disposable commodity, so don't go getting attached to them. Once into the action, you see that the play screen is just as carefully considered. It's uncluttered and intuitive, enabling instantaneous control of a single man or an entire squadron at the click of a button - even multiple combat actions are a cinch to pull off.
Grunts With Brains
As well as being a dream to control, the game boasts an array of touches that showcase the impressive Al. Ask your troops to enter a building, and instead of just blundering in they use both entrances, anticipating ambushes. Find your path blocked by an obstruction and your troops work round it, scaling fences or clambering through dense undergrowth rather than feebly awaiting further orders. And although the action is turn-based, it's executed superbly: if one of your mercenaries disturbs the enemy during their 'turn', they take positive action of their own volition, instead of standing blindly by. This 'interruption' cuts both ways and adds a degree of tension to the proceedings that is furthered by the way your players' personal attributes govern their actions: an experienced SAS trooper can complete a number of actions within his turn - running for cover, taking up a prone sniping position; a nine-stone medic can only take a pot shot, or tend to the wounded. This may not be realistic, but it does call for careful resource management and advance planning if you're to make progress.
Speaking of which, the missions offer plenty of variety and are played out across relatively small maps, with navigation between each conducted via a sub-screen or by stealing enemy transport. Unfortunately, while the novice mode is farcically simple, the advanced settings can be too taxing. No doubt this problem and the dated graphics will deter many, with the turn-based combat frightening off others. That's their loss though, because - all things considered - this is a war that's definitely worth fighting.