Wot I Think: Jagged Alliance: Back In Action

By Adam Smith on February 14th, 2012 at 5:02 pm.

Reload, get to cover, oh soditjusthitthemwithamachete

We are an army of the persistent, the courageous, the savvy, the devoted. We are the few who have liberated Arulco, we sent flowers to the queen and then we blew the doors off her palace. We never quite worked out why we were being attacked by Bloodcats and we mostly ignored the existence of the Crepitus. Many of us learned that cows make for excellent target practice, even if we felt bad about it afterwards. All of us have seized Drassen airport more times than we care to remember. It is only right that one of us should go Back In Action.

As even your Uncle Kevin knows by now, Back In Action is a remake of Jagged Alliance 2, with the same map and (some of) the same mercs waiting for a benevolent overlord to fill their coffers so they can start filling coffins. As with any remake of a beloved piece of entertainment, there is a temptation to cry foul immediately: “They are just cashing in on the name!” “Why remake something that is already so wonderful?!” “Every change will be for the worse!!!” “I warrant that it’ll come with prohibitive and unrealistic DRM.”

I probably shrieked all four of those things at some point during game’s development and continued to mutter some of them darkly while playing the beta but the truth is that Back In Action has enough about it to be its own game, with moments that could only exist in its pausable bouts of gun-loving liberation.

Let’s look at that word first. ‘Pausable’. This isn’t a turn-based game, it uses a pausable real-time system, with commands either issued on the fly or in a planner while the action is frozen. Combined with the lack of war-fog, these two choices are the biggest contributors to JA:BIA’s individuality, giving progress across Arulco an entirely different feel to the cautious creep of old. It’s certainly not all bad and functions as an alternative rather than a replacement, but I’ll take a shotgun to the combat and dissect it later. First of all, the rest.

Even as I prepare to write this, I feel like pausing and commanding myself to walk to the nearest mirror to take a long look at the scarcely believable parody of a man staring back at me. Is he really petty enough to pick at what to many may amount to one little scab? The slight downturn at the corners of his mouth that creases and diminishes but never vanishes as he sighs tells me that there’s no reasoning with him. Back to the computer and we hit realtime again as a stream of consciousness spews straight into our eyes.

In JA:BIA, mercenaries are not hired, they are purchased. In the old days, an employer would approach a prospective murderserf by videophone and this element remains but now, instead of deciding whether to offer them a short-term or long-term contract, and whether to pay for their equipment as well, the choice is ‘hire’ or ‘hang up’. This time, they are in it for the duration. It’s death or victory for these hardened warriors and foolish med school graduates.

To counter their loyalty once on the books, some of the lower tier characters now seem more dubious about the opportunities for progression in a job whose main prospect is ‘bleed to death in a distant country, with flies already laying their eggs in your wounds’. To earn their commitment, you’ll have to make a success of your first few skirmishes and prove that you won’t equip them with the wrong type of ammo for their gun. The personality clashes from JA2 are in place, as are the more positive relationships, so it is possible to bring people on board when you’re in a tight spot if they respect one of your current crew.

But it nags at me, the fact that I don’t have to worry about them leaving when their contract runs down. It was always a tense moment when a few mercs were due to leave at the same time and the budget wasn’t in place to retain all of them; do you lose your best medic and start training someone else up straight away, or do you ditch the pricey marksman and adjust your tactics accordingly? Then there were the frankly horrible decisions – Grunty has been loyal and so murderous that he really deserves a raise, but he also took a bullet to the face and hasn’t been quite the same since. Cut him loose. There’s no sick pay in this world.

Now there’s no option to fly in Magic, or some other finely tuned head-popping instrument of silent slaughter, just for a day, stretching those few remaining dollars to the limit in order to seize vital resources. The ragtag bunch I had on retainer looked at him in awe because he was a member of the great Pantheon of cash-for-kills masters. Now that those war-faced bastards can essentially be bought outright, their personality and aura is diminished.

It’s one point but it reflects the decisions that run through the entire overgame, which is severely diminished. The silliness is mostly gone, with weapons and equipment for sale but not much else, and there is no option to hire a custom-built mercenary, the player’s avatar born from one of the world’s strangest personality tests. Some people may appreciate not having so many choices to make, many of which were inconsequential, and there is certainly a trimming of micromanagement at this level. The map also functions well, with squads moving across it in real time rather than jumping from sector to sector when a counter runs down.

When that squad meets an enemy, it’s to the fully zoomable, all-angles-go tactical combat map. It’s not unattractive and the variety in enemy types is probably my favourite new graphical feature. Shirtless men with machetes and axes look particularly deranged and it’s to the game’s credit that the forces ranged against the ever-chatty mercs have much more character of their own this time around.

Once I’d settled into the ‘plan and go’ system, I appreciated aspects of it. In some ways, it’s less of a change than anticipated, with the switch to turn-based that automatically occurred with combat in JA2 now replaced by a push of the pause button and a queuing of commands. And it works, although only up to a point.

Soon, it begins to feel like some of the micromanagement that has been sucked out of the other part of the game has been distilled and injected into this part. Let’s take an example. I want Buns, the efficient eliminatress, to run into cover, crouch and then shoot a man in the face. That’s easy enough, so I pause and issue the instructions. But what’s this? She’s missed his face and the rest of him as well, and now she’s just kneeling there.

If I issue the instruction in realtime, she’ll continue shooting ‘til he’s dead or she’s out of ammo. If I issue it while paused, I have to queue up every single shot, not knowing how many will hit, miss or penetrate his armour. It’s strange and makes it much harder to plan and go. It’s more like planning and then holding by the hand until the combat’s over.

Odd misinterpretations of intent aside, the real-time command system provides a decent way to plan and gives a unique feel to this iteration. As for the rest of the tactical component, ammo types are now limited to one per gun, healing is much simpler, explosives have predetermined attachment points, and attachments and crafting aren’t as in depth. The least enjoyable change, to my mind, is that skill improvement is through choice rather than practice. It’s another way in which the mercs feel less like themselves and more like a collection of numbers. But, despite all of that, picking off the enemy provides a type of thrill that is JA:BIA’s own.

I’ve complained about the fog of war before, not only because I believe it diminishes tension but because of its revelation of the enemy’s incompetence at existing. In a state of non-interference they are essentially zombies. I still reckon that concealing enemy movement in a game like this can be one of the most effective smoke-mirrors in gaming but as for the former point, the one about tension, I’ve knuckled down to play the game I’ve got rather than the one I wanted.

The conclusion I’ve come to is that it feels, oddly, much more like a stealth game. Instead of creeping forward, always ending a turn in cover, it’s possible to sweep across maps, choosing the best position of assault on enemies who are blissfully unaware of the approaching doom. It’s the set up before an attack that determines whether or not it is successful, much more so than the movements throughout it. In fact, the most successful battles are the ones in which there is barely any movement from the mercs at all.

It’s a fun game to play, this part, a cat and mouse interplay in which your squad are always the cats. The mice bite back, sure, and some of them have massive guns, but they are definitely the ones being hunted. It’s like being a team of Predators, except much easier to kill and only capable of cloaking when around fifteen feet away, which seems to be the limit of an average soldier’s awareness.

The campaign doesn’t feel particularly arduous, in either a good or a bad way, because there’s no sense of being entrenched in enemy territory, where every wound is potentially fatal, every weapon is only as good as the squad’s mechanic and supplies are ever dwindling. As a squad-based tactical combat game, JA:BIA has its own approach and it’s one that occasionally works well, but enjoying it requires an ability to play along with and around the quirks and clumsy artificial untelligence.

Starting with the name, so much of the game asks to be compared to Jagged Alliance but forget that, or at least forget that if you’re interested in playing JA:BIA rather than tsking at it from afar. Slap it on the wrist, perhaps, for trying to hang out with someone so venerable, but then brush it down and look at what’s actually in front of you. It’s rough around the edges and sometimes a little rough in the middle as well, it’s probably better suited to being a series of missions than a free-form campaign, but it does have its own, reasonably effective approach to modern day tactical combat.

The problem is, when you cut off so much, what remains needs to be lithe and effective. In this case, it’s a shame that the ideas that are JA:BIA’s own aren’t executed more effectively, because at the moment a lot of them are still twitching, leaking and making a bit of a mess of things.

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74 Comments »

  1. John Walker says:

    I’ve looked at the top image only, and have decided this is a game about traffic light men going to war. And I refuse to find out anything that would counter that.

  2. Khemm says:

    Hated the demo. They took the JA brand name and created… something that isn’t even good in its own right when you force yourself to forget it’s not a turn-based awesomeness anymore. The character portraits are atrocious, no fog of war, everything feels clunky, I didn’t find the “real time with pause” as satisfying, replayable and engaging as JA2′s combat.

  3. Flint says:

    I’m probably a horrible person but the rent-a-merc aspect is one of the things that has always frustrated me with the original. I actually find it a good thing they’ve changed it with this.

    That said, the realtime-with-pause is really pushing me away from this. Perhaps something for me to get from a sale sometime down the line when the price is lower and the patches/possible mods have started appearing.

  4. Jnx says:

    Nice to see that this isn’t bashed here. I went for it on release and love it. Plan and Go is excellent, and seeing plans succeed is really rewarding. It has some fixing to do but it’s in pretty good condition by todays standards. Would really love that “shoot until dead option” though.

    • Caddrel says:

      It is pretty bashed. The entire review is damning with faint praise.

      “Back In Action has enough about it to be its own game, with moments that could only exist in its pausable bouts of gun-loving liberation.”

      It’s very artfully written; there are very few (if any?) places where the review actually says outright positive things about the game.

      This game is missed opportunity; it lacks huge numbers of features and gameplay elements that were in Jagged Alliance 2, a game released almost a decade ago.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      Here are my thoughts after reading this and some user reviews:

      I look at the extremely negative user reviews from people who “loved” JA2 and I wonder what game they are playing. Now this game (and JA2) are not for everybody, but if you like JA2, XCOM or squad based tactical games I don’t see what is not to like here.

      Are there things this game is lacking that JA2 had? Absolutely. But it also has made some real improvements in many areas, and the “plan and go” system is great and works works fairly well and will perhaps breath some new life into this genre. JA2 was a 10/10, especially considering when it was made. But just because this game has some glitches and needs a little more polish doesn’t mean it deserves a “2″ like people give an unfinished abortion of a game like Sword of the Stars 2.

      This game is substantially finished, playable and a lot of fun. And personally I play games to have fun, not to pick them apart in a determined effort to find every way they could be better.

      I get the impression some people reviewing this either haven’t played it, or bought it specifically to pick it apart, which is quite silly if you ask me. The voice acting could be better, but it is sufficient. The combat mechanics are not perfect, but they are fun and make sense. The interface could really use some work to make managing inventories better, but my understanding is that is in the next patch.

      I thought the music was quite good, and the graphic elements were absolutely excellent for a game like this. The strategy map is a real improvement over the old classic, parts of the interface are greatly improved (and other parts missing/lacking). Anyway if you liked JA2, or XCOM, or the UFO: A series, or Laser Squad Nemesis, et cetera and you would like to play a modern game with those elements than this is just the thing for you.

      I had very modest expectations and it has been the game I have had the most fun with since portal 2 was released (and I buy a game a week).

      My $0.02

      Also I personally think the reviewer is dead wrong about the RPG style improvement issue. I have never found a game that handled the “improve by doing” mechanic well. Not even Morrowind. It always leads to unbalanced play where your character levels too quickly, or to grinding. I think in Morrowind I was max at every skill before I was 1/3 of the way through the game. Heck in JA2 most of the community spent huge amounts of time gaming the experience system. Straight points is a much better way to go. So much easier to tweak and balance. Maybe it will be done right some day, but we will see…

    • oatbag says:

      @Josh. Exactly my view.

      Also, I initially really disliked JA2 because it didn’t have x and y from x-com, but it grew on me. Same with Silent Storm.

      And now? I’m glad that there are no less than three new games in this genre out this year (JABIA, XCOM and Xenonauts). Good year.

    • MadMatty says:

      “Learn by doing system ” is easy to exploit.
      I remember in Xcom3 your guys would have a chance for Skill advancement for every single shot they fired.
      What i did? :
      Kitted all my squads out with the crappiest, most rapid firing machineguns for 3 months, then when their shooting skills were maxxed out, id give them some real guns.

      It was fun tho, breaking the game- just that the opportunity exists- i dunno i feel kindof split on the issue

    • alh_p says:

      I’m pretty disapointed with this review, if I’m honest. I understand the aversion to scores etc but I guess I do like to be told whether a game is at least enjoyable (even if only in a clumsy, frustrating way), and I’m not sure you have. You’ve not said it isn’t either, so for me the review seems more of a comparison with JA2 than a discussion of JABIA in its own right.

  5. Maxheadroom says:

    JA1 spent yeeeears on my original baige windows 95 box back in the day. I’d keep going back to it every now and then untill I completed it. Still have fond memories.

    Somehow JA2 passed me by untill years later but this new one? played the demo. Meh

    • Jnx says:

      The demo didn’t do the game justice. I didn’t like that much either but love the full game.

    • mckertis says:

      There is only oh so many times you can conquer the bloody island. Deadly Games is the one on my HDD, random missions and vicious turn limits still provide.

  6. Sarissofoi says:

    Game suck.
    Hard.
    Its is atrocius piece of code and should burn in hell.

    • rebb says:

      Really not all that bad.
      Learn to play.
      The only real bug i encountered so far was Weapon Repair sometimes not working, and that was fixed 12 hours ago.

      To me, most of the belly-aching about the game seems to stem from the fact that “hardcore fans” tend to just want their respective previous game with fancier graphics – and if that isn’t the case start to run around in circles arms flailing.

  7. mouton says:

    Why does the industry hate turn-based tactics so hard? Because it is not fun anymore, dead? A thing of the past, perhaps, like adventure and platform games, for example?

    • Caleb367 says:

      So, this basically is a dumbed-down, real-time re-release of JA2? No thanks, I’ll stick with my 1.13.

    • Khemm says:

      I’d have much more fun if BiA had a turn based combat system instead of this “plan and go” snorefest, that I’m certain of.

    • Hematite says:

      I’ve been philosophically musing about this. I think it’s because the current ideal (in publishers’ minds at least) of a perfect game is one which has no rough edges to scare customers away.

      Turn based tactics is, unfortunately, a rough edge. Not because it’s a bad idea, but the control scheme is never up to the task of smoothly implementing the grand plans you can form in your mind – the tension between turn based and plan+go being an example. One sacrifices flow, the other precision.

      Different people have different tolerances for rough edges – I’m particularly aware that I’ll personally put up with any old crap as long as it’s got one brilliantly good idea in it somewhere, hence I play a lot of indie games. I’m hoping more mainstream publishers will get with the program and let some interesting ideas through even if they have unavoidable flaws attached.

    • malkav11 says:

      I think a lot of developers and publishers have bought into the myth that turn-based gameplay was an artifact of technical limitations, and that real time play is inherently superior. Or, alternatively, that pausable real-time play is the same as turn-based. Neither is true.

  8. Discopanda says:

    Can someone clarify whether the MERC guys have been removed? I saw a MERC t-shirt in the game, but after 15 hours or so, no sign of my homies Razor or Haywire… I have a horrible sinking feeling that they’re being saved for DLC.

  9. Jockie says:

    Sounds like a waste of the license.

    Can it really be that hard to update a game like JA2? It’s pretty clear now what worked and what didn’t. All the update needed to do was give us some fancier graphics, more realistically destructable terrain and cut loose some of the zanier bits like sci-fi mode (or give us a new campaign).

    JA should have been a seminal series, after 2 great numbered installments and two pretty darn good add-ons. Instead we get budget re-makes with poor design decisions trading on the name. Ridiculously overpriced too.

    • MrPhred says:

      What’s weird to me is that in some places they slavishly copied JA2, like merc “exclamations” but they used such abysmal voice actors it just seems like an insult to the original. Other places they felt free to “innovate” mostly to the detriment of the original game play. All those old Sir Tech guys need to get back together and kickstart a proper sequel to JA2. Just call it a spiritual successor like Interplay did with Fallout.

  10. Svant says:

    I sort of liked the real-time pause thing in the demo but the lack of a clear field of view indicator for your mercs made it basically impossible to tell if they could shoot or even see the enemy that you as the player can clearly see.

    Ontop of that the camera was horrible and way too zoomed in to be usefull, especially when a sniper or assault rifle could fire at least twice the width of what the camera showed, made keeping up with a battle basically impossible.

    Another thing i thought was missing was a cover mechanic like in men of war where you could put a guy near a door or a corner and have them shoot inside and pop back into cover quickly.

    But the game seemed pretty decent and would probably be better when played from the start instead of a random mission with a gazillion enemies.

    • Jnx says:

      You guessed right. The demo is way too disconnected to give clear indication of the full game. Also the camera has already been patched to allow farther zoom levels and also closer with better angle for checking cover.

    • briktal says:

      In games like this, real time or turn based, I really want the ability to throw grenades around corners.

    • Chris D says:

      I just played the demo and was cautiously optimistic after the tutorial but the mission itself was a bit rubbish. It may just be that if I gave it a chance and worked my way up through the campaign rather than being dumped straight in in might grow on me but I’m not prepared to fork out £30 to give it that chance.

      Developers! Please don’t be stingy with your demos! Don’t leave me thinking “F*ck this Sh%t!”. Leave me thinking “That was really fun. I must play more of this right away!”. It’s why I bought Defender’s Quest. It’s why I bought Reccetear. It’s why I bought Space Pirates and Zombies, Orcs must Die, SpaceChem and Might and Magic: Clash of heroes. Atom Zombie Smasher didn’t do quite enough, which is why I didn’t discover it was awesome till several months later and it was on sale.

      Jagged Alliance! All these games have something you do not: My money. Give me a chance to learn some tactics on the easier levels. Show me the campaign. Give me a chance to recruit my first mercs and get attached to them. Giving me only one level from halfway through is like asking me to marry you on a first date. Too much too soon. Go slow. Give me time to get to know you before aking for commitment. We might have been good together but we’ll never know. Maybe I’ll pick you up on a sale. Maybe I’ll be playing X-COM instead.

  11. Kaje says:

    Bought this, installed it, played it, uninstalled it, went to GOG.com, re-downloaded JA2 Gold.

    If you’re new to JA, it might be average for you for an hour or two.

    If you’re a JA vet, it’s awful. It’s genuinely awful. No personality, no challenge, no fun at all.

    • Joc says:

      I played the demo yesterday, and tried – really tried – to like it. But I didn’t. Couldn’t. I stopped playing after I finally beat the initial engagement (this challenged me for some time – that’s probably not a problem with the game though).

      I did, however, reinstall Jagged Alliance 2 (from a Compact Disc!) straight after, and stayed up until 2am fully securing Drassen, and only stopped to get the bare minimum sleep required to function at work today.

      I think that’s an adequate indicator of my opinion on the demo. I won’t be buying this, but I will be watching with hope for improvements that will legitimise the use of the JA name, though even then I think it’ll only be a ludicrous sale purchase.

  12. MythArcana says:

    I’ll stick with the JA2 v1.13 fanpatch and enjoy the bloodletting insanity with an arsenal of weapons that would make Neo blush. Thanks anyway, though.

  13. Jimbo says:

    The game is ok. The whole militia mechanic is bad enough to make me not want to play it though.

    • BebopBraunbaer says:

      damm you, how could you post something about militia while i was writing?! (- ; tell me more about that “whole militia mechanic”

    • Jimbo says:

      When you take over a location it then has a certain number of militia defending it, but to arm them you have to have your mercs manually carry guns to the location (and your mercs can only carry 3 spare weapons each, and the mercs have a weight limit which is pretty easy to hit), load the location, run up to the militia one by one (and your mercs have a stamina limit, which is also easy to hit just running across the map) and give them the weapons. It’s a massive hassle for how inept the militia seem to be at defending.

      Taking over the locations once is fun enough, but having to keep going back to retake them (or leaving mercs there to manually defend them) is a chore. I don’t know how it worked in the old games, but I hate how it works here. It’s just busy work. A simple ‘assign x militia with y funding’ option from the world map would have done.

  14. BebopBraunbaer says:

    what about militia? can i train militia? will ira still get skill points for training drassen?

    • briktal says:

      Each point you can control (towns, mines, etc) has a few potential militia guys on the map. You recruit them by giving them a weapon (no ammo needed for them) and optionally some armor.

    • oatbag says:

      You have to give a weapon to militia in the tactical zoomed in view. you have to walk up to them. No idea if weapon condition affects effectiveness of militia, doens’t seem to. The longer you hold a location the more militia are generated. Interesting, but the micro gets irritating. But necessary if you want to buy a bit of time, otherwise you will be recapturing the first mine over and over again, as baddie raiding parties are generated often.

  15. Muenzmacher says:

    I’m sick of it. Someone get the old team together and kickstart a true sequel. new story new campaign. how hard can it be?

  16. oatbag says:

    I agree with a bunch of the complaints, but honestly I’m still enjoying it. With some good mods, this game could be improved just as much as JA2 was by v.1.13.

    The realtime system work for me, although it requires some unexpected micro.

    Assaulting rooms is awesome though, all about mobile infantry doctrine.

    I can completely understand some of the anger, but I find it enjoyable, just rather different.

    Just some inventory management mods, some more guns goodies, automated militia recruiting, and its looking good.

  17. aircool says:

    Noooo, realtimepausablenotturnbasedish?

    The only game where that kind of thing has worked was Space Hulk.

    And maybe some other ones… I can’t remember.

    • Drayk says:

      Maybe not a ‘real ‘ realtime pausable but = BG, BG2, Planescape, Dragon age Origin, Kotor; etc…

      It worked fairly well

    • Strontium Mike says:

      The only game I’ve found real time and pause fun was Neverwinter Nights but there you only have one character to control. Anymore than that and Rt&P games become an exercise in frustration, putting up with bad suicidal ai vs micromanaging that’s far more stop start than turn based ever was.

    • mckertis says:

      “The only game I’ve found real time and pause fun was Neverwinter Nights”

      Except it wasnt realtime. In fact, none of the D&D RPGs were realtime. With maybe an exception of Dungeon Hack or something.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      @mckertis It was real time, so were the Baldur’s Gates, Planescape and Icewind Dale games. The only turn based D&D games in the last twelve years I can think of were the Temple of Elemental Evil and Pool of Radiance Ruins of Myth Drannor.

    • UnravThreads says:

      NWN was turn-based. It just blended into the background really well.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      Nope NWN is real time and pause, turn based is I go, you go, my turn, your turn, that definitely doesn’t happen in NWN . It doesn’t matter what the underlying mechanics are if they are happening simultaneously then it’s not turn based.

    • malkav11 says:

      NWN may have discrete units of time marked as turns, but they are happening in real time.

      And I think pause-and-order is certainly to be preferred to full on real-time, but it’s no substitute for real turn-based gameplay.

    • mckertis says:

      “if they are happening simultaneously then it’s not turn based. ”

      I didnt claim NWN was turn-based. But to say it is real time is equally ridiculous. Almost all D&D games are round-based. Until the round is over – your character will wobble and refuse to take further action. Next round starts – next batch of orders is processed. If that is your idea of real time…

    • Saiko Kila says:

      NWN, just like KOTOR, isn’t really real time. The discrete units they use are so damn long, in comparison to the time the player has for decisions (like pressing a pause or other interactions with UI), that they feel ridiculous, not RT. When the fireball/blaster shot takes improbable turn to follow your guy, just because the engine decided that he WILL be caught, not accounting for his real position, distance or obstacles (like walls) the moment it happens, or you can’t change targets before certain time has passed (the hidden turn) then you start to appreciate mechanics of both real Real Time games and real Turn Based ones. These games are just in-between, and can’t decide what to be.

    • Strontium Mike says:

      @mckertis

      “I didnt claim NWN was turn-based. But to say it is real time is equally ridiculous. Almost all D&D games are round-based. Until the round is over – your character will wobble and refuse to take further action. Next round starts – next batch of orders is processed. If that is your idea of real time…”

      No one was calling NWN true real time, if you reread the first three posts we were talking about realtime and pause , or pausable realtime.

  18. mollemannen says:

    a redeeming value would have been multiplayer. have yet to try ja2:s multiplayer (with the 1.13 patch) but often just adding another spawnpoint makes a good game even better.

  19. Kohlrabi says:

    It’s funny how they could have just overhauled the graphics and UI of the old game to have big success. Instead they tried to implement new features, which are half-assed, and dumbed-down all other features which made the old game complex and interesting. Also, who in his right mind thought that the atrocious low-poly 3D faces of the mercs are better than the old portraits? This thing reeks of horrible design decisions, and while the idea of plan-and-go sounds interesting, everything else just falls flat on its face.

    This is the kind of game which could really have profited from more interaction with the fans and community during development. Instead, they kept high secrecy, and when they released their first videos and demo, poor design in some core areas came to light (healing, mechanics, no fog, AI, …). Of course, it was too late to overhaul those game mechanics, then. Now, with the final, even more questionable decisions are evident in the world strategy part.

    What a shame.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      healing, mechanics, no fog, AI, …

      Umm I think healing and mechanics are better, and the AI is definitely better (just no FoW make sit seem worse). Having no FoW was a big mistake, but there was fan input and I am sure they considered it. The hardcore were always going to be happy with any changes and if they had made a complete clone people would have just screamed murder about that instead.

      What is wrong with playing games to have fun instead of to find problems with them?

  20. Strontium Mike says:

    What’s the maximum number of mercs you can hire now? Is it still eighteen or has that been upped/downed? Can you still make simultaneous assaults on a location from different directions?

    • Colton says:

      I heard that the max you can recruit is 20 if you control a specific town (havent’ gotten enough money yet to hire more then 4 mercs so far so…)

      You can split squads on the large map — to assault using more than one squad you have to make one squad enter (and have the game load the entire map *yawn*) and then exit to the overland map, take control of squad #2 and have THAT squad enter the action area (and wait for the game to load the combat map again)

  21. Lytinwheedle says:

    What I miss most is the fact that it is no longer an RPG, it’s just a tactical game.

    Squad personality is massively reduced.
    You can’t create your alter ego and be on the battlefield yourself.
    NPC conversations offer the choice of clicking [Next] or [End].
    The hunt for items is toned down, you can only add a single attachment to each gun, which means that keeping a low-tier peashooter until tech-level 10 by using weapon attachments is out.
    Shooting no longer improves the shooting stat, etc… But I can have a merc bandage a comrade repeatedly until I have maxed his sniping skill.
    There is no immersion in the gameworld, taking sectors doesn’t cause Elliot to get punched, and you can’t send flowers to Deidranna to make her have an aneurism.

    While not being much of a fan of the plan&go system, it has grown on me, and I’d love to take over the rest of the country, but without the RPG, my heart just isn’t really in it…

  22. MadMatty says:

    I see no problems with “real-time with pause”. Its hardly a taxing reflex based beat em up?!
    whats the hate for?

    • Khemm says:

      It’s like turning Civilization into a real time game with pause.
      Also, turn based games are so stupidly rare, yet awesome – meanwhile, real time games are so common and omnipresent, yet can’t provide the same depth TB ones do.

    • MadMatty says:

      Hmm as i see it theres no need to turn down complexity for real-time-with pause, so i dont know where thats coming from.
      I played this style first with XCom 3, and i had no problems with it, infact i prefer it.

      Comparisons to Civ is a bit unfair, as that game requires tons of microing- which you can still do in Realtime with pause, but seems unneccesary with that strategy game.
      It works fine in Europa Universalis somehow, yknow the grand strategy game thats spanned 3 sequeals and infinte amounts of expansions?

    • Lytinwheedle says:

      It really depends on how it is implemented.

      UFO Aftermath’s gameplay was about giving everyone the longest-range weapon and hoping to kill the enemy before he killed you.

      7.62′s implementation was complex, detailed and utterly brilliant.

      This falls between both, but I also don’t see the point in dropping JA2′s turn-based combat which was as good as 7.62′s RT mode.

    • mckertis says:

      “I played this style first with XCom 3, and i had no problems with it, infact i prefer it.”

      Except that in the case of XCom Apoc – going real time basically lobotomized AI, so you could line your guys up and wait, aliens sought you out, instead of the other way around. “XCom for the lazy”, it was called.

  23. Spongbo says:

    So much hate.

    I preordered the game, tried the demo, thought the demo was awful, and then the full thing was upon us.

    I’m glad I tried it, because it’s all I’ve been playing since then, and I’ve been thinking about it while at work, at dinner, while in bed with my lover… you get the idea.

    I found JA2 frustrating (bought it when it came out the first time) and quickly stopped playing as a twenty-something, but this I’m enjoying a lot.

    If I have a problem, it’s that so much knowledge of JA2 seems to have been assumed by the developers, and they haven’t bothered to explain militia, or resupply, or hiring, or, well, anything, to someone like me that wasn’t exactly religious about the first one (let me clarify: I loved JA, I still love JA, I was just incredibly bad at it and didn’t persevere other than the odd reinstall-aww-that’s-cute ow-stop-hurting-me).

    That leads me to: their forums are a f-cking train wreck. I was going to say “for English speakers”, but it’s probably more “if you’re human.” The devs do interact on posts, but you have to use the forum for that to happen, and seriously, I’d rather papercut my eyes at this point.

    So the ironic situation is: if you didn’t love JA2, you might love this, but to understand this, there’s a lot of assumed knowledge from JA2.

    But seriously, I’m going to keep playing it until I work all this crap out (thanks to Briktal, now I know about militia!)

  24. Pathetic Phallacy says:

    The entire time I was playing the demo -and this might be because it’s real-time- I kept thinking how much I would rather be playing any of the Men of War games.

  25. Saiko Kila says:

    Many things, but no avatar? Eek. It was the first game where I used my present nickname as a name of avatar (and then decided to use it on usenet, so I dropped its usage from subsequent games), so I remember it rather fondly. Well, no more super-killers with moral sense.

  26. neofit says:

    I don’t mind the real-time with pause thingy one bit. I have played JA2 at release, loved it, replayed one or two years later, loved it, but didn’t touch it since then. I think I geniunely tried to like the demo as a new game, but it ended up in me cancelling my pre-order on Steam.

    First of all the interface. I kept fighting against it. Why have me use both hands to move and pan the view while most games have this on the mouse is beyond me. Then the lowest you can move the camera is at a 45-ish degree andgle, so you don’t know whether the toon is in proper cover or not. You have to put the toon in Defend mode to figure out what part of the terrain he sees, but even then you constantly see enemies in his non-greened defend area (where he can’t shoot to) quietly shooting and hitting him with no problems.

    Then, as has been said above this post, you have to micro-manage even more than in a TB game: if you plan a shot in paused mode, the toon will make exactly ONE shot and stops shooting. Also, the game suffers from the same problem as brigade E5 and 7.62: your merc is shooting at an enemy, the latter moves and is hidden by a tree for a split second, your merc loses sight of the said enemy for the split-second and forgets he was shooting at him 0.01 second before and just stands there.

    The tedious part is not compensated by the fun part. Thanks to various sales I have too big of a backlog to be interested by a product that lacks so much functionality.

  27. lord never78 says:

    WOW LMFAO. What a huge missed opportunity. This franchise was a gold mine waiting to be cashed in on. All they had to do was keep the game the same with improving the graphics and maybe add a few extras like new modern weapons and mercs. This happens alot though. . New minds and devolope leads cant resist the challenge of out doing the predecesors. Most of the time… actually I havent played one game thats altered course from the orginal game line thats suceeded at out performing it both in sales and game user acceptance. From a business perspective its a very bad move. If you want to make alot of money don’t deviate course from the orginal game at first. Make money first and than change some things as you go with next releases LOL. Especially when you got a game that still has thousands of people downloading it even well after 10 years after its release.

    Futhermore altering the gaming style of one the most epic classic turned based strategy games of all time like jagged alliance 2 is like pissing on a christians bible than rewriting it with wordings that are in your opinion to be far better than the orginal and thus better period. All the fans that waited so long for this game deserve a apology for the blatant disrespect that was shown. They couldve made this same game without the jagged alliance story. Actually they wouldnt have sold any copies if they had did that. The game that was produced isnt worthy of the jagged alliance name and every copy everywhere should be thrown into a fire and forgotten.