Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Demo

I am a big fan of Jagged Alliance 2, but I played it originally long after it's prime and didn't play it as much as I would have liked. That could have been because it was buggy, very difficult or just because I found the mechanics dated at the time, but I was looking forward to the upcoming Jagged Alliance: Back In Action. From early previews and interviews Kalypso Media has shown that they care greatly about the original games and want to build from the great ideas that they presented. After seeing actual impressions of gameplay from various websites, like Rock Paper Shotgun, I lost much of my enthusiasm for the remake and thought that it would be lost in a sea of mediocrity. The lack of destructible environments, fog of war and the move to real time, instead of turn based, has made many worried. I had all but given up on the game until I tried the small demo that came out today. It contained a tutorial and a single level, a difficult level that pits your four mercenaries against twenty plus enemies. You can find the demo here, don't worry if the download website is in German the installer is the same and has options for both English and German. Also, they warn that the demo is very hard, harder than the game regularly will be. Read on for my demo impressions.
The demo lets you run through an important tutorial that takes you through a training base in the jungle, letting you learn how to use the commander mode among many other simple things. I do not know if the commander mode is actually called that, they merely call it the "plan & go" feature that allows you to mix real time strategy with a some turn based features. The original Jagged Alliance games are entirely turn based, something that you would be very familiar with if you've played the original Fallout, especially Fallout Tactics, but in Back In Action gets rid of that and seemingly focuses on real time instead. The plan & go feature lets you pause the real time and set out plans for all of your units. You can synchronize your units actions together, to do things like firing upon unknowing hostiles with all of your squad members at the same time, or you can just use it to plan a fight or determine how likely you are to hit an enemy. I found this tool absolutely vital and I cannot imagine going through any mission without using it to plan our your actions or determine your chances of success. With all that said I have some issues with it. It doesn't always work fluidly and it feels like it would work much better if the game were turn based not real time. In Real time your units don't really defend themselves, sure sometimes they seem to try, but for the most part they will watch an enemy walk up to them and shoot them in the face. Were the game turn based that would be perfectly acceptable but since it is real time it feels a bit odd. It makes it clear that this game is like old school turn based games where you have to micromanage everything, but honestly that's part of the fun and and it made me feel like it was Jagged Alliance, not some other game. You can see the game and plan & go mode in action below.

The one demo mission isn't really a mission, there isn't any end to it and there are two areas that you are supposed to capture, but nothing happens once you do so. It pits you against very many enemies and the first time I played it I got absolutely slaughtered upon my first encounter with the enemy. I figured hey I'll put my guys into crouch and sneak up on them on their island huts, hell no. My guys started walking near the huts and the enemy soldiers started unloading upon my guys before I could get three shots off. The second time I set up my team farther away from the enemy and use my sniper to a better affect, using the plan & go tool to see how far my guys could shoot and what kind of odds they had. This time I picked off two of the enemy snipers and watched the rest come to assault me through the swamp, they fell like flies. You have a lot of tactical options and tools to use in the game, like C4 to blow open specific walls, med kits to stop bleeding from serious wounds, knives to perform close combat assaults and many other items that you can use to your advantage. Your soldiers also get experience by performing actions successfully or killing enemies, which gives you points to put into various skills and stats, like marksmanship, medical, perception and agility. The demo doesn't show off the world map at all, unfortunately, but hopefully that is done in an impressive way like the original games. 

I came away from the demo with an enjoyable experience and I hadn't played a good game with this type of gameplay in a very long time. Sure there isn't plenty I don't like, like mediocre camera options, cluttered UI, no friendly A.I., no fog of war and static environments, but I was expecting a far worse experience than what I actually had.  If you are a fan of the original series or the gameplay type then definitely check out the short demo. The game itself is coming out on February 7th and it could be appealing, enjoyable and unique to many gamers out there, but I don't see it being great, more likely mediocre or good. Thanks for reading and I will be back shortly. Check out the main site for more information and the demo link is below as well. 
Main Website:
Steam Page:
Forum Post About Demo

-Written by Sean Cargle


Post a Comment