Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Has A Demo

By Adam Smith on February 2nd, 2012 at 11:12 am.

Who doesn't hire Grunty straight away? Fools, that's who.

Bland headlines, eh? Steam is now host to a demo for Jagged Alliance: Back In Action, so all those people who have been dismissive of the move to pausable real time can see if hats must be salted, peppered and devoured. Similarly, those who have laid out a welcome mat for Colonel Change can see what the blighter does once he’s in their parlour, hanging his hat on the coat rack and his coat on the hat rack. Oh, you confounding swine, Change, why must you play with our expectations so? If you’re allergic to Steam, here are alternate download links.

The actual mission in the demo is preposterously difficult and I reckon the included tutorial is much more interesting. It was a massive help in convincing me that inventory management, positioning and sentry duties hadn’t vanished along with my beloved action points.

Thoughts? Frothing rage/excitement? Mercenary-themed wordplay?

, , , , .

43 Comments »

  1. Echo Black says:

    I click “Download Demo” on its Steam page and nothing happens. I can download other demos just fine (just downloaded the Fortune Summoners one). Odd.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Happening for me too but will hopefully be fixed soon. In the meantime, the list of ancient (mostly) German mirror sites works! Speeds on gamershell seem fairly good.

    • doeke says:

      The demo link on steam isn’t working for me either :/

      Also, I only just found out about this game, and if it’s anything like Commandos was, I’m going to have so much fun. Thank you RPS for bringing my attention to games that are awesome.

    • Ford says:

      Classic Steam.

    • wcanyon says:

      Happened to me too. It can be downloaded elsewhere. I think there’s a link in a steam forum post.

  2. silgidorn says:

    I commend(o) this game, for having done a demo. It’s so rare these days.

    • Echo Black says:

      It seems most publishers have entrenched themselves with the notion demos are a thing of the past

    • silgidorn says:

      I wonder why they don’t have the “try before buy” tactic within their line of sight anymore.

    • jumblesale says:

      I wanted to try the demo but unfortunately I’ve damaged my spine. I have back inaction.

    • silgidorn says:

      I hope we won’t get to the point where your spine will is jagged and I’ll hence have to try it for you.

      Edit: Corrected wrong grammatics. Still doesn’t seem pretty right though…

  3. thebigJ_A says:

    The “Download Demo” button in Steam isn’t working for me. As a test, I checked the Reckoning demo button, and that worked, so idk.

  4. Svant says:

    Not working here either :(

  5. Snidesworth says:

    Gave this a try last night. Tutorial went well enough (except for the revelation that explosives can only be placed in predetermined locations), but when I got to the demo mission I ran into a few problems. First of all there’s no fog of war (wasn’t that supposed to be patched back in?) and it quickly became difficult to keep track of what was going on in larger firefights. The terrain was cluttered, making frequent camera adjustments necessary to figure out where to place your mercs, and there wasn’t enough feedback to tell you what was going on. Who just shot Magic? Where’s he standing? Does the enemy have line of sight on the medic trying to patch him up? The inability to zoom out far enough to watch both sides at once made it particularly frustrating, leaving me guessing at who my own mercs were shooting at and who was shooting at them. This isn’t an inherent flaw of real time combat (the old Infinity Engine games didn’t have this problem), though it being turn based would obviously allow the player to take in every action that occurs on an individual basis.

    • Baka says:

      You also cannot shoot more than the predermined number of rounds at the shooting range.
      If you’re unable to reload fully at the next step, the tutorial will stop. Good times.

    • sneetch says:

      @Snidesworth

      No, a member of the development team said they might patch FOW and Line of Sight back in but there’s no guarantees and this potential patch would depend on how many people buy the game and how much those people want it. From reading some of that team member’s follow ups (and back tracking) in the thread I think it’s fair to say that he had no power at all to be making any actual promises there.

      I’m gonna give it a whirl tonight but I’m not terribly hopeful that it’ll be worth it without FOW and LOS implemented especially not taking into account your criticisms.

      “… and there wasn’t enough feedback to tell you what was going on. Who just shot Magic? Where’s he standing?”

      Yeah, that’s one of the most important things they lost when they moved from turn based to real time; in turn based you see the enemy move and shoot so you have a better idea of where things are coming from. Here the information is lost in noise and motion.

    • Tiax says:

      Haha, that’s classic.

      “We’re not going to make a good game unless people buy our dumbed-down version first ! AH !”

      What could possibly go wrong ?

    • Snidesworth says:

      Part of the trouble is due to the transition from turn based to real time, but it’s more than just that. It seems that they haven’t put much thought into designing the levels so that they don’t obscure information. I had to pause frequently to figure out where my mercs could hide, work out lines of sight and so on. There doesn’t appear to be any means of spotting units behind buildings/terrain unless you pause and, as I said before the camera simply doesn’t zoom out far enough for the battles that take place. My mercs were shooting at dudes more than a screen away and vice versa. Without the camera snapping to each shooting and showing their shot it lead to a very confusing experience where it was difficult to keep track of what was going on.

      As for the lack of fog of war, it totally changed the scenario. The map is the top level of Orta at night, with the research facility being surrounded by a shanty town above a swamp and a guard checkpoint. I could see every enemy on the map instantly, including the ones within buildings, and plan accordingly. No need to scout, no risk of ambush, etc. It also made it difficult to figure our LoS. Before if you could see an enemy it meant that at least one of your mercs could see them too. Now there’s a discrepancy between what the player is aware of and what their mercs are aware of.

    • Nater says:

      I am okay with their Real Time system except they are missing very important elements like walking backward and lateral movement…. I should be able to point a guy a certain direction and have him move independently from where he is aiming, vice versa.

    • Premium User Badge wengart says:

      Real-time didn”t seem like the issue to me while playing. To put it another way these are not problems inherit to real-time, although a few of the issues would be less noticeable in turn based.

      1. Like others have said the camera is way to close to the action for you to get a handle on whats going on.

      2. Its incredible hard to tell who your mercs can see and who they can’t.

      3. Its also very hard to tell how tall objects are and what angles they have. This makes it super hard to properly place mercs in cover.

  6. caddyB says:

    I wish they could’ve just remade JA2 with the lastest of that famous mod that I forget the name, just with better graphics ( even higher rez of the same style of 2d would be fine really ). I don’t understand why they like to screw things up by changing stuff without understanding what makes the game great.

    On the other hand, I knew that this would probably be bad, but I have high hopes for xcom.

    • Nater says:

      Latest famous mod I assume is 1.13 which is much to convoluted and complex for an average gamer to play and enjoy. Other than the increased resolution and the ability to affect drops, I really did not enjoy 1.13 much.

      Vanilla JA2 was great the way it was and the sequel really only needs new campaign/story, graphics updates (especially to modern resolutions), AI updates, and the original Sir Tech group to make it happen. Too bad they are gone.

      Still think this Plan&Go is the best alternative to turnbased too bad it’s potential is wasted here, in the demo anyway. The devs should have played/looked at established games like Frozen Synapse (Plan-WeGo and movement), 7.62 (movement and more), and MoW: Assault Squad (Cover, AI,etc) for inspiration.

  7. Bumble says:

    Having only recently become a JA2 convert (mostly due to RPS it must be said), I was looking forward to give this a whirl. Really wish I hadn’t bothered because of all of the above comments. True enough, it’s pretty, but the real-time elements and cluttered landscapes make instant reaction and planning to sight lines almost impossible to predict.

    The command synchronisation is nice, just makes me wish that if they were insistent on tremoving individual turns then at least they could have followed Frozen Synapse’s lead in simultaneous turn-based approach because I can’t see intense firefights being anything more than a stop-start unwieldy mess.

    Oh and putting out a demo with the difficulty set to max is a bit of a strange choice too – it’s hardly going to be a welcoming introduction to the game and more likely to put people off than give them any confidence.

  8. sneetch says:

    I find it amusing that the little banner ad here looks like it’s saying “Step… Back… InAction” when I saw it I thought “Why yes, it is a step back and I believe inaction to be the best course at the moment.”

    Très amusant, non? Non. D’accord.

  9. Svant says:

    That demo screwed me over hard… heh without the visible LOS its impossible to tell if your soldiers can shoot the enemy or not until you point at each of them and check the tooltip… micromanagement nightmare :/

  10. grey_area says:

    There’s only one question I want answered:

    Is Bobby ‘Steroid’ Gontarski back? And if so he better have the original voice pack.

  11. wcanyon says:

    Yep, pretty unenthused about this. I played it for 10 mins and found the lack of FOW to be completely immersion breaking (you can see all the enemies on the map, a la motion detector). It has potential but I liked JA Online a lot better.

  12. El_MUERkO says:

    Played through the tutorial and the start of the first mission, the lack of fog of war is a bit disconcerting but the engine looks nice and the game runs well, the new UI is good and the new pause-able-real-time control system works well.

    I’d love fog of war back and I’d love more intelligent enemies, again, I haven’t pre-ordered yet, hoping to here it’s modification friendly so if they don’t put in features the community can.

    • sneetch says:

      While it remains to be seen how mod friendly it is they did say they won’t be releasing any tools to help with modding, for licensing reasons mainly, which certainly won’t make it any easier.

  13. Svant says:

    Biggest problem for me is that its virtually impossible to tell who can see what. I have no idea if my guys can see the enemy or if they can see me… several times have my stealthy sneaky approach been foiled by an enemy seeing me despite me lying perfectly still behind the roots of the trees…

    Then theres the interesting fact that if your guys are set to run they will shoot like crap even if standing still… and what is the move slowly gun ready thing for if you can’t shoot while moving anyway?

  14. BigSmallFeet says:

    Just a heads up but this is what’s missing from the final game (compared to the JA2)

    1 No Turn Based combat
    2 No Fog of War
    3 No more custom mercs with I.M.P
    4 Climbing on buildings only on predefined spots
    5 Explosives only on predefined spots
    6 No more weekly or daily salary for your mercs
    7 No learn-by-doing, training or practicing
    8 Unrealistic portraits (You can only recognize mercs by name)
    9 Simple Interface
    10 There is no longer a Map Inventory. (You have to drop/change/repair/share items in the tactical view)
    11 No more usable vehicles like Skyrider or the Icecreamtruck
    12 No bloodcats
    13 No mortars
    14 Only 1 attachment for each weapon.
    15 Less weapons as in the original
    16 No more decomposition and no more ravens
    Only one difficultly level

    At least it is a PC game and not some doggy port – for that we can be thankful.

  15. MythArcana says:

    1.) Pick up JA2 at GoG.com for $10.
    2.) Get the current v1.13 user patch @ http://ja2v113.pbworks.com/w/page/4218339/FrontPage
    3.) Enjoy 15 years of amazing tactical simulation and forget all about this new lemon.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      Done a while back, but I don’t want to call this game a lemon just yet, it’s got promise, maybe not a launch day purchase but I intend to track its progress.

    • irongamer says:

      Not sure if it was completely related but when I downloaded the 1.13 patch from pbworks I ended up with a virus/worm that hooked itself to just about every executable via the registry. My scanner didn’t catch it and it took a good evening unhooking all its little tentacles from the registry. Make sure you check it with malware bytes or something. This happened over a year ago so it may be a non-issue now.

  16. frosty216 says:

    I tried to give the demo a chance. I donned an open mind, completely disregarded what has and hasn’t been done before by the series, and attempted to focus only on how well things were executed this time around.

    First and foremost, this is coming from a guy who thinks Skyrim is all graphics and “Hollywood”, and not a worthy Elder Scrolls title. However, my reasoning is not because I adopted the stereotypical “It’s different, and I don’t like change” mindset… I don’t care about fast-travel being in there. I don’t even care (well, too much.. ) that I’m playing a direct console port. Likewise, I WOULDN’T care about the new leveling system, if it worked. ..But it doesn’t. The fact that it’s so dumbed-down to the point where there’s no need to choose a particular race, because any is just as good as any other at anything. Instead of adopting a certain playstyle, the game rewards a character for just doing everything and advancing every skill. The setting, for all it’s glory and HDR and resolutions, doesn’t draw me in and implant unique memories like little old Morrowind’s did. I feel like I’m just playing any other fantasy RPG (granted a beautiful, breathtaking RPG, but COD had its beautiful, breathtaking moments as well).

    ANYHOO…. that whole wall of text is hopefully a justification of that not all of us are ever completely outraged of change or stream-lining. However, when an excessive amount of effort is put in to remove an excessive amount of depth from a game, that is where I personally would draw the line and say GTFO. It’s like Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon, and the subsequent sequels of Lockdown and GR2. Those devs didn’t get me as a customer, because the games I knew and loved which absolutely revolved around planning, managing, and completing a mission using any approach I want, turned into 3 dudez running in another linear virtual shooting gallery. Somebody pour some 40oz on the sidewalk for Raven Shield, please.

    I have the advantage towards being impartial with no particular amount of nostalgia, as I’ve only seen JA2 in play and never experienced it myself (Fret not, veterans. I’m downloading Gold and v1.13 as I write this). Of course, I’ve always enjoyed a good turn-based game. Upon starting up, the tutorial was…. boring. Sorry to sound like sugar-rushed ADD 12 year-old, but after seeing some of the basics I became pretty tired of the repetitive dialogue and whatnot. I got the initial impression of a real budget atmosphere, with not too much effort done to draw the player in to enjoy anything. Whatever, I played through most of it, clicked on what must have been 50 different place-markers on the ground, and watched gruelingly slow objectives tick by… trust me Tutorial, I don’t need too much time to figure out how to scroll the mouse wheel. Just tell me I can do it. On a side note, the game reminded me slightly of Shadow Company (which apparently no one has ever heard of). So that was nifty. Tutorial exited.
    First run on demo mission: Mercs approach first building from swamp in run. Spotted and cut down after moving less than 3 steps from starting positions. Touché, game. Touché. Second run: Mercs crawl to positions around cover. Arranged in a hasty skirmish line. Tension building. Pause mode entered. Each merc given targets. Apparently can’t shoot half the visible enemies. Would have liked fog-of-war at this point, not because of the traditional complaints by JA2 players, but simply just so I knew which enemies were actually within visual range of mercs and/or had a chance to be hit.
    Pause mode released. It’s go time. There’s a 5 second delay while mercs “ready” their weapons. A few shots ring out. Mercs are cut down mercilessly. Their targets were barely scratched, and several other baddies ripped them to shreds.
    Ok, fast forward. Umpteenth run. Stealthily move mercs to guard post with only 3 bad guys present. Cover taken. Merc with “Druganoff” (better than the Klock pistol) takes position with his legally-named sniper rifle to fire on the baddie walking the perimeter of guard station. Other mercs moved to “Guard” mode to cover the inevitable reaction of other enemies. Sniper rifle fires. Takes about half the health bar out on target. The target then turns around and proceeds to remove a good portion of my merc’s health. RECAP: A man prone, in supposedly good cover, with a sniper rifle, fires on a man walking under a lit streetlamp in the middle of a road. Barely wounding him, the man with the sniper rifle figures, “Hell, time for a smoke and tea break” whilst his target starts unloading on him. LESSON: Looks like it carried over some of the quirks from old turn-based games after all :D .

    Thus enters my beef with this game. I want to like it. I do. I’m a geardo (cross of a “wierdo” with the word “gear”), and I like putting craploads of items on my little virtual dolls and seeing everything reflected as such graphically. I actually like the sub-genre of games that attempt to blend RTS with turn-based; I think if done correctly, an amazing tactical yet entertaining product could result.

    The problem that exists for me at this point, could possibly be completely my fault. Which would render this book of a post I’m writing obsolete, and with that all done for nothing I’d probably spiral down to intro-venous drug use and soliciting prostitution. But I digress. It’s the fact that the “new” way of controlling combat is all well and cool, but the game itself is not tailored to it. Since I haven’t played JA2 personally, I’d compare it best as taking X-COM UD, and just slapping a real-time or pause based system on it. It’s suicide and excruciating to do simple tasks.
    A prime example of this: I have 4 mercs outside a large building, and there is one (1) enemy inside a huge room through a nearby door, which he is facing. I can use the pause system all I want, and have one or all of my mercs form a complicated plan to enter the door, but no matter which way I approach the situation, it always ends up with a merc entering, facing the badguy, executing a command to fire, but waiting about 5 good seconds for no reason to “ready” his weapon, whilst said badguy ends his meager existence. The only workaround to clear a room with an enemy who can see the door is to use grenades of some type. What if I didn’t have any? What if I don’t want to?
    Even more so, it’s too clunky. As my orders progress in real time, I don’t know if the exact spot I clicked on for movement is the first spot to shoot from. This ends in my merc attempting to move to a location but getting shot along the way. Fast forward a bit from that one guy in a room. I flushed him out with grenades, the only solution apparently. All of his buddies come running up from a floor below, and as I fire on that first guy, the new arrivals light up mercs who I presumed were behind cover. Turned-based levels of micro-management being required don’t work in a RTS. When in real-time, it’s hard to know that someone is going to shoot my merc who’s prone behind a low wall, and more importantly that (even in Guard mode) he won’t shoot back even though he’s facing their direction.

    So I could’ve just said I don’t mind new things, but when new things don’t execute well there’s a problem. I could’ve. But it was more fun talking about completely unrelated games and going into detail on why I sucked at the demo. But seriously, I can’t stress how much I really did want to like it. Was it just me notdoingitrite? Or did this particular blend of TB and RTS really just screw the pooch in the combat department?

    Woah. Nap time.

    • irongamer says:

      I also finished the demo. My first 3 or 6 attempts got my team cut to pieces. Then I put Lynx and Magic at max distance to the edge of the hut full of baddies and just cut them down as they looked around for my guys. They usually spotted them too late and would only get halfway to me at best. I didn’t even use the other two guys until I found them some rifles.

      Then I just marched across the map using Lynx and Magic. Almost always used head shots. There are some strange places where the enemy can gain LOS and fire at you. Some of these may be small gaps in the walls of the shacks. Still, cover was a little hard to figure out. I did like how at times guys would come from the other side of the map. While the AI was not very bright I did like how they would come up to a door, wait for like 3 of them to line up and then rush in at once. A couple times this almost overwhelmed my cycle rate. I don’t like how you can see all the guys on the map.

      The combat was fun enough. It reminds of Baulders Gate with the pause. Move in real time to setup or engagement point, pause, give commands, unpause for action, pause again to make adjustments, repeat. I never used the options on the side for automatically attacking targets in front of you, I called every shot from the queue.

      If you can’t figure out how to control your merc pause and click clear all. Then select a merc and give him a command. Like, walk here, then fire. Those commands queue in by the character. My commands basically entailed head shot x3. Once I got used to the queue it made sense. I really only used real time for running to my next setup point.

      It does feel a bit like JA. Obvious things I noticed:

      No way to increase your accuracy it seems, just click to shoot.
      The character portraits really don’t look like the old characters.
      Different dialog for characters? (not sure on this one, its been a while since I played JA)
      Only 1 mod slot on a weapon.
      Leveling up gives points to spend on attributes.

      I’d like to see the map, sector, and management side of the game. I’ll most likely pick up this title on a deal day or something.

  17. TwwIX says:

    This is not Jagged Alliance. This is just another attempt by another shitty developer to cash in on JA’s legacy and it’s not even remotely similar to the original games. The aesthetics are terrible as are the visuals and the gameplay. The Silent Storm series is the closest thing you’ll get to a Jagged Alliance sequel. Who are they trying to win over with these drastic changes? They sure as fuck didn’t convince me and i have been a fan of the series since Jagged Alliance 2 came out. So, who exactly is their target audience because i don’t see games like this appealing to the mainstream audience out there at all.

    Good luck with the sales, idiots!

  18. kissmmm says:

    =======ww w.luckystore7.c om======

    all style air J0rdan sh0es33$,Air F0rce 1 33$, duks SB sh0e30-35$, Sh0x sh0e30-35$. disc0unt jersxy, High quality T-shirts20$,ED hardit-shirts20$,ED Hardi h00dies,Ev1su

    sh0es,GUCC1 sh0es,1V H andBag36$,Chane1 H andbag36$,men,women fashi0n,AG,CL,AF,DG…… ch1apest (TOP) N1ke A1r , J0rdan (1-24) sh0es $ 31
    moncler cl0thing $110
    UG~G $ 50 N1ke sh0x (R4, NZ, 0Z, TL1, TL2, TL3) $ 31
    T-sh1rts (P0lo, Lac0ste) $ 22 $ 15Wig
    Hand`Bag (1V, Chane1, C0ach,etc.) $ 30
    Jea ns (True Religi0n, E~d, c00gi) $ 30
    Sung1asses (Di0r, 0akey, C0ach, Gucc1, Armain1) $ 16
    h00ded je^sey $ 29 $ 16 A new era 0f belt (ED/BT) $ 15
    Watch (R0lex) Sc`rf $ 80 $ 21
    B1kini (Ed, P0lo, Gucc1, 1V, Chr1stian Aud1gier, Affl1ction) $ 15
    m0nster head earph0nes
    you like ,you enjoy,you know
    I think you will like this , easy for you to refering to you frends thanks!
    ww w.luckystore7.c om

  19. pazmacats says:

    Played JA1, JA2 + 1.13 a lot. The demo: Bad idea to release a demo on this. –

    2 game-breakers:
    A) Camera: Worse than 7.62 (you can’t switch to 1st person, so you don’t have a clue what’s where and where’s what.)

    B) Game doesn’t even work. Auto-pause broken, Guard mode broken. Targets that show up as “certain” hits in pause-mode switch to “impossible to hit” in real-time mode (with the target standing around and burst firing) With key elements like this not working, I don’t want to imagine how glitchy the rest of the game is.

    Bottomline: Back to 1.13, Fallout Tactics or Ufo: Afterlight.

    Must be hard to create something when basically all you need to do is write a new story, hire some artists and do some level design.

  20. psaldorn says:

    Nobody has mentioned campaign screen yet. I was disappointed with the “not technically a sequel, sequel” as its map was “location 1, 2, 3, 4, 5″, not the country map I was expecting.

    Suffice to say, a lot of the gripes here are dealbreakers for me, so sad. I seem to remember the UFO series had a decent 3d turn-based combat system.

    Back to 113 for me.

  21. Toverkol says:

    Hmm, odd. I quite enjoyed the demo when i got to grips with the UI and new tactics. Got my ass handed to me in quite a few different ways to boot.

    The UI is quirky and requires attention on several aspects, but none of them seem unsolvable. Just preordered it, and started the anticipation rituals.