Jagged Alliance: Back In Action In Action

By Adam Smith on January 26th, 2012 at 9:38 am.

I once met a man who claimed to be a mercenary, but he was about 87 years old, very drunk and may actually have been pleading to any god who would listen for clemency.

When it was revealed that Jagged Alliance: Back In Action would use a ‘plan & go’ pausable action system rather than the turn-based trappings of yore, I expected the outcry to be loud and shrill. Mine was, until I played the game at which point I was forced to acknowledge that actual hands-on experience is more useful than spurious supposition. Who would have thought? I found something new to whine about when I saw the necessarily clear evidence that the game contains no fog of war. Then I thought it might be added for release. I was wrong, buried beneath crossed wires. Some people seem as unconcerned about the missing fog as they were about the missing turns, so perhaps this gameplay video will help everyone to have contrary thoughts.

As soon as the second area starts, you can see all those red blobs at the side of the screen representing enemies. That’s my problem. It’s not even particularly the fact that I know where they are, it’s more that I know exactly how many there are. It might not be clear to someone who hasn’t dabbled in the game, but the order system is effective. Situations like the big shoot-out with an injured merc to take care of feel urgent and demand impressive feats of time-juggling.

I wish there was more dramatic scenery damage when grenades went off though. And that Dr Q hadn’t turned into a white guy.

It’s out next month at which point I’ll ramble on about it, possibly for the last time, and see how it all holds together through a couple of full campaigns.

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49 Comments »

  1. mrwout says:

    Something really strange happens at 1:12 in the movie. The guard doesn’t react to the first shot that is fired, bet he then seems to die just before the second one gets fired…

    • Bluerps says:

      I think the first shot misses (I think the little red text over the merc says “miss”), and the second one kills him. The missing reaction of the other two guards seems more strange to me.

    • sneetch says:

      Guard #1: Huh, Frank just dropped dead again.
      Guard #2: Ignore him, he’s just looking for attention.

      I also love it how the “enemy who noticed the combat due to the noise” at 1:48 ish decided his best option was to crouch and face away from the people who had already shot him to await the inevitable.

    • mrwout says:

      I figured that the first shot must ‘ve been a miss. But still if someone shoots a couple of inches next to you, even when using a silencer, you’ notice wouldn’t you ?

    • sneetch says:

      No, looking at it a few times more he seems to die before the second shot is fired or before the sound of the second shot plays anyway, dodgy stuff, it might just be poor synchronisation between the sound and the video, I suppose. Looking forward to the WOT for this.

    • Nater says:

      Supposedly the final game has had an AI overhaul, but these preview copies may still show a prior build.

      I for one and pretty excited about this game. Its my favorite type of strategy/tactics game. There are some choices that BitComposer made I do not like (no FOW or TurnBased option, no IMP, horrendous portraits, white Dr. Q, arcade healing system), but still I want to give this game a shot, especially their Plan&Go system. I really hope the game will be successful enough to spawn a sequel or even a lengthy franchise and maybe BitComposer will tweak a few things to make the next game better.

  2. Red Serpent says:

    It looks so clunky! *cries on the inside*

    Hah! tactic didn’t work…no wonder, by the time your team reacts to their command the approaching enemies already have moved beyond the area or are already dead.

    • D says:

      What I saw happen was the AI counter attacking force, just sortof forgetting to move on up and attack. Whoops.

  3. JiminyJickers says:

    I didn’t mind so much the pause and go system instead of using a turn based system. After seeing some initial video of the pause and go system I think it may work quite well.

    But their decision to get rid of fog of war because the playtesters found it not to be fun just boggles my mind. Even after it was already implemented ealier in the development cycle, and their refusal to include both options to please their playtesters and old fands just completely put me off buying the game. It seems like a lot of other complexities were also removed.

    I’ll stick with replaying JA2 instead. These guys doesn’t seem not to care at all what the fans want with this remake. Sillyness I say.

  4. Jorum says:

    No fog of war seems ridiculous design decision – do they not understand their market at all?
    It would seem such a easy thing to have as a difficulty toggle option as well.

    Also does complete information (no fog of war) apply to AI calculations (i.e AI is given complete knowledge of where your mercs are)?
    I would imagine not , but if they can mess up basics like FOW…..

  5. BoZo says:

    Didn’t they say that they would include FoW? Or did I dream that…

  6. Capt. Eduardo del Mango says:

    I never played the original JA games because… I don’t like turn-based games. Does that make me a bad PC gamer? I think the only two I’ve ever got on with are Civ and UFO: Enemy Unknown. Combat Mission has made me a huge fan of the plan-and-go thing, so I think I might take my first steps into the series with this one.

    • Caleb367 says:

      Bad PC gamer, I don’t know, a godless heathen devilspawn, yes. XD

    • Nick says:

      why take your first steps into the series with a game that is not really part of the series and looks dreadful?

    • Raiyan 1.0 says:

      Not liking TBS makes you a bad console gamer.

      *runs away*

  7. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    “We removed all of the racism from the game”

    *makes Dr. Q white*

    • Caleb367 says:

      If Ivan Dolvich becomes a soft-spoken Greenwich Village pacifist, I’m going to cry.

  8. plugmonkey says:

    I can’t say Fog of War is too much of a deal breaker. I’d certainly be willing to give it a try.

    Outmanoeuvring the enemies once I’ve found them has always been the fun part of these games for me, not painstakingly inching forwards to uncover them in the first place.

    I’d be quite willing to try an iteration that just completely cuts out that gameplay, and then see if I actually miss combing the map for half an hour to safely uncover the last remaining bad guy. I might not.

    • D says:

      That has never been questioned. Last enemy hunts are extraordinarily boring (sometimes thrilling, because your last merc is wounded, or whatever, but mostly always just boring) – thats something that could and should be improved upon. Many ideas can be brought up for this.

      The problem with no Fog of War is that you will never be flanked, surprised or otherwise outmaneuvered. You will never have to deal with having half of your team stuck on guard / spotting duty. You will never have to act on incomplete information – the very key to tension, and success, in all conflict.

      Apparently their playtesters found out that the game wasn’t fun with Fog of War. To me, that indicates there’s something wrong with the game, not the Fog.

    • Nater says:

      I really hope they patch in a FoW option (because maybe I will like zero FoW as well).

      @D I disagree, FoW or not, its how tactically sound the AI which will lead to you being flanked. Just because you see someone running around to the side of your team, doesn’t mean anything if you cannot move due to the amount of fire coming from the stationary AI element.

      IMO, FoW out in the open is kind of an old system which was a tool to cover up bad AI. Having limited view range with clear line of sight in what may be a 500m sector is kind of silly. If your AI behavior/tactics programming is good you should not need any FoW other than building interiors.

      Now a Line of Sight system, that is a different story I would like to see implemented; if there are hills/valleys/concealment and the AI uses that to block your LOS to flank you, then from your merc’s POV you should not be able to see them do so.
      Only other games to use similar systems as Back in Action were 7.62 and BE5, but their LOS system was annoying at time due to interrupting orders, I’ve read that is not the case with BIA.

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    Been a loooong time since I played the original but I vaguely remember spending what seemed like an eternity searching a map for that last enemy so’s I could move on. So in that respect having no fog would be a bonus.

    But then I am old and i may not be remembering correctly so who knows.

    • Snidesworth says:

      I can sympathise with not wanting to hunt down a single hidden goon, but there are better ways to resolve this issue than removing an element of the game that adds a huge amount of tension and danger to it. Having objectives that, if held for several consecutive turns, secure victory and force the enemy to retreat would mean that enemies hiding off in some distant corner of the map wouldn’t be an issue any more, especially if the AI is programmed to become aggressive if the player is holding an objective and moves to hunt them down.

  10. TailSwallower says:

    Got access to the game last week, but it’s unplayable on this netbook. Could probably give it a shot anyway just out of curiosity, but the resolution is too large for the screen, meaning I can’t access some parts of the UI (including looking to see if there is an options menu where I might be able to change said resolution).

    Instead I’ll just boot up JA2 again once I’ve got some of these Indie Bundle titles out of my backlog.

    • DaftPunk says:

      I believe you can change res in ini files in your game directory.

    • TailSwallower says:

      Game directory? I guess you’re talking about JA2, ’cause JA:BIA is Unity-based, so as far as I know it’s all in the cloud.

  11. Khemm says:

    No turn-based combat, no sale.
    I was so excited when this game was announced, I lost interest immediately when they dropped the core gameplay element that made me love JA in the first place.

    • Cinnamon says:

      Yeah, pauseable systems remove most of the stress associated with you making the wrong decisions in my experience. But even removing fog of war and making it a continuous real time sim instead of action points can work well for me as seen with Frozen Synapse. Although there is just something about action points where every click could be a fatally bad decision that is just great.

    • SquidLord says:

      There are people who play non-Dark Frozen Synapse matches? Madness!

  12. DaftPunk says:

    Otherwise stop whining people,i bet mods will fix everything.

    • D says:

      You willing to bet my money on that? Cause I’m not.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      this is my hope, if they open it up to modding, then i’ll buy it

    • sneetch says:

      I wouldn’t put too much hope in mods adding this in as they’re not planning on giving any help with modding.

      “Kalypso answered this question for north america, we answered it for the european market already: We won’t give support on modding. No modtools or editors. However we won’t stop people from modding the game if they want to.

      Update: I think I should explain the reasons for that like in the german forums. The thing is we cannot release the editors and stuff. Two reasons for that one. First, they are not very comfortable and easy to use. Sure, that’s not the main reason although it would be same like releasing the whole source code and the engine for free. The main reason is that there are third party tools used and included and therefore it’s a license-problem. ”

      http://boards.jaggedalliance.com/index.php?/topic/320-modding/

      Depending on how the game is actually packaged people may be able to figure out how to alter the games behaviour or they may not, either way adding in something like FOW would require a lot in depth access to the game’s engine.

  13. Jebediah Adder says:

    Oh, my… The enemies appear to be quite dead in the brain. I just might had been willing to give the game a fair chance, but this video has really delivered a killing blow to my interest. Coordinating the mercs’ actions simultanously could be quite fun in it’s own way, but the prospect of fighting such a demented bunch of enemies doesn’t seem enjoyable at all. Sigh…

  14. Snids says:

    Not massively impressed with tone of Mr Smiths writings on this subject to be honest. I come to RPS for the grown up open minded opinions and to avoid the fanboyism so often found on other sites.. But its all been moan moan moan moan on this.

    • PleasingFungus says:

      “Oh no, a preview that expresses reasonable concerns about problems with a game, rather than being unrelentingly positive!”

  15. Hensler says:

    This is different game than Jagged Alliance Online, yes?

    • wcanyon says:

      Yes, JAO is more turn based and has FOW. But has a cash shop attached to it. Still, it’s pretty cool and I like the idea of running a merc operation and sending your mercs all over the world.

  16. zacharai says:

    I just… hmm. I was originally thinking the same as the invisible hand (no FOW no sale!), but after seeing that trailer, I’m kind of interested. More than I thought I’d be. It looks nice.

    Really this thing will live or die, in my head, by the RPG system that it uses. Can I turn this Russian chick into a sniper to support this Nigerian demolitions expert? Can I make my mercs into an expensive version of the A-team? If so, I’m sold.

  17. wcanyon says:

    I think it has potential. The whole turn based thing feels like an artefact of the weak computers we had in 1990 — plan and go feels a little more realistic and makes you feel like you’re actually giving commands instead of every soldier being a puppet that you control.

  18. MythArcana says:

    Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13 FOREVER!

  19. fnwtmp says:

    Er.. is no one else perturbed by the instant healing mechanic?

    Why do you need to worry about your mercs getting shot if you can just heal them instantly?