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Game Over Online ~ Jagged Alliance 2

GameOver Game Reviews - Jagged Alliance 2 (c) Talonsoft, Reviewed by - Wolf / Phire /

Game & Publisher Jagged Alliance 2 (c) Talonsoft
System Requirements Pentium 133, 32MB Ram, 300 MB HDD
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Tuesday, August 3rd, 1999 at 11:24 AM


Divider Left By: Wolf Divider Right

Many years ago, Sirtech released the original “Jagged Alliance”. Though I never played the game at the time, I now have the opportunity to find out what I was missing out on all those years ago; and after playing the sequel I must say, I have really been missing out on a lot.

Jagged Alliance 2 uses a 2D graphics engine that any “Fallout” player will find instantly accesible and familiar. On first sight, the graphics seem rather poor compared to Fallout's bitmapped characters looking quite a bit better than JA2’s polygonal, mindnumbingly undetailed counterparts. Upon further inspection, though, you will notice that the characters are able to do a much larger variety of actions due to their polygonal nature. Although being nothing special in essence, the whole look of the game is enough to convey a great feeling of satisfaction when another dead body slumps lifelessly to the ground, or if you were lucky, their head explodes in a rather gruesome display of gore.

The sound in Jagged Alliance 2 is impressive. The sound effects are well-done, with many guns have different firing noises, and baddies have their appropriate little grunts of pain. The music is quite good, as well, with combat having suitable dramatic orchestrated music and non-combat situations boasting soothing tunes. The part where the game really shines, though, is the speech. In the game there would have to be over a hundred different characters, and they all have their own fitting speech. Many of the mercenaries' speech patterns are extremely well-implemented, really giving the merc a unique personality. Its a pity, however, that the three different voices avaliable for the player to choose from are all a bit poor, but alas, c'est la vie.

Jagged Alliance 2 is a mix of combat and Role Playing, much like Fallout 2. Though this game is relatively straightforwad, the menu might require some explaining. There are two things which are very important: One is the option of “Normal” or “Tons ‘o Guns”. Visions of mercs overloaded with huge guns and enemies armed to the teeth would have to be put aside, because this option just allows you to gain the “Warsaw Pact” weapons and two more different types of ammo that go with it. I see no point at all in having created this Tons ‘o Guns option and why Sirtech dind’t just stick them in Normal mode. Perhaps its just for people who get too confused with all the little numbers. The other, more important selection at the start, is the Mode selection. You can either choose “Science Fiction” or “Realistic”. In Sci Fi mode you have to deal with huge alien “Bugs” which invade your mines, and you have to kill their queen as well. Personally, I find it extremely detrimental to the overall gameplay to be running around with your AK-47 set on automatic, gunning people down all commando style, and then some stupid green thing trots up and starts attacking you. The Realistic mode just wipes away any trace of these annoying little bugs, but there is still plenty of playing time left without having to kill the bugs. The next thing you do is create your own personal Merc. Through a series of questions, some completely irrelevant to your character development, you are given your two skills that will be permanent throughout the whole game. You then set your characters initial stats for Strength, Wisdom, Marksmanship and such. Sadly, there are only three different “traits” which you can edit - Medicine, Explosives and Mechanical. Once you have completed that, you can hire a Mercenary and be on your way into the first “sector” of Arulco.

The turn-based combat is actually quite simple. It's mainly the underlying damage and physics model that really add depth to it. Never has sniping from rooftops been as incredibly deadly as now (as it should be). Trying to take out an enemy sniper on the rooftop requires some thought, as running straight at him will only guarantee your getting your head blown off. “Taking cover” now also has an actual use, hiding in the trees dramatically decreases your chances of getting hit. Night Operations are also an option which makes for a complete change of tactics from daylight. The enemy AI is sometimes a bit stupid (in the beginning mainly) and at other times surprises you as you realize that it's doing exactly what *you* would have done. The game is very detailed, great morale really helps out your mercs and makes them feel invincible, getting hit means you have to be bandaged, and action points are deducted as a penalty; plus, there are plenty more small things you will find. The one aspect which may have some people a bit frustrated early on is the fact that aiming at an enemy involves your cursor being either on their head/torso/legs, and right clicking to determine the accuracy of your shot (better accuracy = more action points). The thing is that you are given no sign at all of what chance your shot has of missing. After a while of your merc using a certain weapon you have to develop a feel for what shots he is able to pull off, and at which times he should retreat, hoping for a better shot next turn. As you proceed to shoot all of Deidrianna’s (evil queen who usurped Arulco's trone and is terrorizing the unfortunate populace) army to bits your merc’s will learn to further develop the skills they often use. That's the combat aspect of the game, which is the core of the game. It's very elaborately woven together though, the main objective being to take over “Arulco”'s throne and liberate the country. You have complete freedom over how to achieve this. From the map screen (which could be described as a bit too cluttered) you can direct your mercenaries to the next city to conquer. Conquering cities makes them loyal to you (just how loyal depends on what you've done in the city, though), and the city's mine (if there is one) will produce money for you, which you, in turn, can use to train militia to protect the town from army invasions, and use to hire more mercs for commando raids on other towns. Now we get to the rather bland Role Playing aspect of the game. You can talk to people, some of which are bartenders, most of which seem to have no role in all, and a few people who will give you a quest to perform. The quests are usually very simple, and will earn you some more money and loyalty in the town, but there are hardly any of them avaliable, and you don’t really have to bother with them if you don’t want to. The other thing with this aspect of the game is that talking to these people just gives you a small box with “Friendly, Direct and Threaten” as the main choices. When pressing one of these, you don’t see or here what your Merc says, all you hear is the response from the character your talking to. These options are also far too indirect, so you can never just *ask* for what you want, you have to keep pressing these buttons and wading through the crap they dribble until something useful comes up. The Role Playing aspect is not very good, but it admittedly adds another little aspect to broaden the game's horizons even more.

This is really one of the better games that's been released in the last few months. Despite some of its flaws it's a really immersive experience, with a combat system so satisfying you could hug it and take it to bed with you. Every minute I write this is another minute I am not playing JA2, i'ts soothing longing voice is calling for me.

 

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Divider Left By: Phire Divider Right

Jagged Alliance 2, the game I've awaited so long for has finally, after much delay, come out. When I tried the demo to this game a few months back I was amazed at how great it was, so it was with great anticipation that I reviewed the full game. Jagged Alliance 2 is very unique in that its hard to classify in one specific genre. It's essentially an Action/Strategy game with a tiny bit of RPG element to it. The story of Jagged Alliance 2 begins with a dictator that has taken control of a tiny nation by the name of "Arulco", your job is to hire mercenaries and take back control of the land to bring liberty to Arulco. Not only will you need to know good battle tactics and strategy but you must also know how to negotiate.

The detail in Jagged Alliance 2 is amazing: it features over 150 unique characters, each with their own unique personality, you can jump, run, duck, climb and even crawl. You can even create your own mercenary and choose his/her abilities, skills and personality. Jagged Alliance 2 also features dynamic lighting meaning you can play during day or night. You may even meet people during gameplay and talk them into helping you on your mission, including individuals such as military personnel or civilians. Jagged Alliance 2 also features an enormous amount of digitized speech done by professional voice actors, which is extremely well done.

The graphics in Jagged Alliance 2 are animated very well, I didn't experience any choppy frames, and all movement was smooth. The characters are illustrated very well: a cross between pre-rendered 3d and hand drawn. Additionally, most buildings are done in 3d and look excellent. The terrain in Jagged Alliance 2 fits the game very well, houses are blown up and rubble will actually fall on the floor, as it would be in a real battlefield. Some people still live in the broken down homes. These unfortunate souls are the survivors of the dictator's militia blitzes and are probably connected to the man your working for.

The sound and music are excellent in Jagged Alliance 2, and, as I pointed out before, the voice acting sounds very professional. The sounds for pain suffered during an injury are perfect and dialogue is excellent. Additionally, the mood of a mercenary changes if his friend dies: his dialogue becomes depressing. Gun shot sounds are pretty good, but you may not be able to tell the difference between some gun sounds. Door opening sounds and other furniture opening sounds are quite good also. Music in the game is just great and it will change to a dramatic score if you are in a serious battle or to calm music when you're just exploring.

I find Jagged Alliance 2 very fun. It's a very unique game and feels extremely fresh in the crowded market. Jagged Alliance 2 gives a lot of freedom of movement in the game, which most games sorely lack. JA2 is not for the action based gamer however as you must plan and think out what strategy you want to use against aggressors. Jagged Alliance 2 has a very solid damage model including the ability for bullets to pass through "soft" object. Point damage is also featured, meaning that when you shoot someone in the head with point blank range with a high powered gun then their head explodes ;). Interacting with the people and exploring gives Jagged Alliance 2 its role playing game element, but some may not like exploring and just want to fight or vice versa. The mix is tastefully done however and I find it very enjoyable.

There is no multiplayer in Jagged Alliance 2, though multiplayer was featured in the previous Jagged Alliance game which I believe was called Deadly Games. As to a reason why there is no multiplayer in JA 2 is beyond me.

Jagged Alliance 2 has impressed me very much, even though it was delayed a few times I still expected it to be this good and it is definitely worth your money. Suffice it to say, you won't find too many games like Jagged Alliance 2.

 

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