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Old Faithful? Jagged Alliance Returns

'Jabia' is not an acronym I ever want to write again

Pining for something unquestionably PC amidst this recent torrent of sound, fury and pre-rendered chest-thumping? A new Jagged Alliance game should do the trick. Jagged Alliance: Back In Action is a “modernised remake” of the one-time X-COM heir apparent, and it now bears a release date. Somehow, 2011’s ended up being a corker of a year for tactical strategy – this, Frozen Synapse and all being well Xenonauts should all be with us before dirty old Santa pays his next visit.

Back In Action will be back in action this October 18. On development duties are a mob named bitComposer, rather than original devs Madlab Software. How does it look? Why, just like this. German audio on this trailer I’m afraid, but it gives a pretty good sense of what they’re aiming for with this spit’n’polished do-over of the turn-based mercs:

I’m a bit confused if this is a remake of JA1, 2 or both – certainly it began life as a 3D rethink of JA2, but appears to have morphed somewhat. Either way, one downside of this being a ‘modernised’ remake is that presumably we’ll be denied this remarkable coverart from the 1994 original:

Oh well, can’t win ’em all, eh? One other thing that’s causing… difficulties among the JA true bloods is that this new game will feature an optional real-time combat mode (edit: ok, I can’t tell if it’s optional or not; some places are saying so, but the official site says it’s real-time with turn-based elements. Riiight) alongside other balance tweaks intended to make the 2011 version theoretically more accessible to those who didn’t grow up with the original. Ack, the terrible perils of pleasing a fanbase while trying to attract newcomers – I don’t envy any dev who attempts to update an olden franchise for the modern age. (Edit 2: and not actually being turn-based is about the most sure way there is for a Jagged Alliance game to piss off its long-standing fanbase. Tricky not to question that decision on paper, but I shall wait to try the practice before I judge).

More details on the official, semi-German website. And while we wait for October, let’s have those fond JA memories, please…

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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