Back In Flashblack: Jagged Alliance Again

Pew.

Jagged Alliance sits in an uncomfortable middle-ground of nostalgia, where folks remember it warmly enough for companies to keep it alive, but not quite enough to pay for an all-singing, all-dancing, all-not-wonky modern version. In the last few years we’ve seen a pants Jagged Alliance browser game and a disappointing JA2 remake Back in Action (plus DLC and an expandalone). Perhaps the best recent hope has been Space Hulk devs Full Control’s Kickstartered “reset” of the series, Jagged Alliance Flashback. After five months on Steam Early Access, yesterday it properly launched.

Full Control have talked up going back to ye good olde days, which is secret code for “It’s better than Back in Action!” and “We have proper turn-based combat too!” Steam user reviews seem to broadly say it’s one of the better Jagged Alliances we’ve seen in a while, but still no Jagged Alliance 2.

It does have mod tools and Steam Workshop support so I’m sure we’ll see folks tweak a few things. They still need a solid-enough foundation to build on, mind.

Jagged Alliance Flashback is on Steam for £19.99, going up to £24.99 after next Tuesday. Jagged Alliance 2 is £6.19 on GOG, and for an extra 8 pence you can get JA 1 and JA: Deadly Games too.

Flashaback certainly has the cheesy rock music I’d except from a retro revival:

25 Comments

  1. TehK says:

    My first Kickstarter disappointment.
    I can’t even bring myself to get past the toturial thanks to the clunky UI and controls and some smaller bugs. I really want to like it, thoug, so I will have to give it another shot when I’m not that grumpy.

  2. Frosty840 says:

    The current build seems to have a rather miserable lack of loot drops, considering JA2 tended to just dump the entire inventory of anything you killed (creatures) or opened (rooms, crates) into the sector inventory.
    Also, there appears to be no sector inventory (there might be one somewhere that I’ve missed), which makes post-battle mass-looting rather a pain in the arse, to be honest. There’s a “team inventory”, but it’s no substitute.

    • harmlos says:

      In vanilla JA2 dead enemies did not drop their entire inventory, only some of it (selected randomly). The rest mysteriously disappeared. This is actually my main complaint against JA2 – if I just saw an enemy taking pot shots at me with a Mini-14, when I kill him I expect him to drop it so that I can pick it up. Thankfully, dropping everything is an option in 1.13.

      No sector inventory seems like a major drawback to me – I don’t want to have to run around the map picking up stuff after a battle. Why can’t they just take JA2, update the graphics for the 21st century, maybe add some goodies like the full destructibility of Silent Storm or the weapon customization and inventory system of Brigade E5 and 7.62HC (which also have a sector inventory, btw) ?

  3. Gothnak says:

    Ah Jagged Alliance… Very few pairs of words make me go YAY on seeing the title, oh.. on reading the article and meh.. on reading the comments.

    I played JA & JA2 to death, finishing both of them. I tried Back in Action and it was soulless and this looks the same. JA always had so much personality in the mercs and putting it into a very standard looking 3d world for some reason lost that for me.

  4. RedViv says:

    It’s by far the best since JA2, but that is a pretty low bar to vault over. UI needs work, sector inventory and such, and loot drops are decidedly not like what you would expect in a JA title by now. If I expertly kill off a sniper that would bother me with his grand gear, I want that gear for myself, and not for it to vanish into thin air.

    (Oh, and there should definitely be a “DO have all the hair colours and other very visible options present in player model customisation that also exist in the portraits for customised characters” ruling in the future.)

  5. BletchleyGeek says:

    Just a note on something the posters here find aggravating. Random loot drops were the way JA and JA2 did its thing. Full inventory drops was (is) an option introduced with JA2 1.13, aka the Infinite Community Patch. An option which I reckon makes the game far too easy :)

    • RedViv says:

      It’s still far less than in either of the previous games, so it really feels very empty. Which I guess is a bit of a running theme in the game. It is rather light. No weapon extensions, no ammo types, no second floor.

      • Squirly says:

        Wait, what? No second floor? Honestly, I was hoping for an improvement on JA2 and maybe seeing a 3rd floor, but is it honestly all flat now?

    • Michael Fogg says:

      Exactly, in JA2 upgrading your team to all rifles from the starting pistols was something of an early-to-mid-game accomplishment and the top shelf stuff was dripping down slowly all the way to Medina. Makes some sense too, when you riddle someone with bullets you can’t expect his kit to be reliably intact.

  6. Danny says:

    How does Jagged Alliance 2 perform on recent machines anyway? Are there options to play it in 1080p? Any other quality of life stuff that has been added?

    Played it around it’s original release, but 18 year old me didn’t have the patience to properly appreciate anything else than running around the map and killing bad guys.

    • Olero says:

      @Danny:

      JA2 does run quite ok on modern machines, but to make it so, you probably, nay, definitely want the 1.13 mod. It adds a ton of stuff (a.o. a higher resolution, albeit not 1080 yet, but 1024×768). For all features and the download location, see here (beware, the list is a bit overwhelming if you’re used to the good old “vanilla” Jagged Alliance 2.

      All in all, 1.13 is a completely different experience compared to JA2 unmodded, yet still remains everything that made JA2 great. I haven’t played the newest version yet (it’s a new version after 2,5 years… For a game now what, 15 years old? Madness :)

      • UpsilonCrux says:

        Check here for the latest stable build link to ja-galaxy-forum.com

        I *think* this latest build supports res’ higher than 1280 now(the unstable builds from a good while back did anyway), although it can get a bit squinty at 1080.
        It’s sooooooooo good, and there’s so much to it.

    • Jad says:

      I’ll say what I end up saying in every JA2 comment thread when someone asks about playing JA2 for the first time and the 1.13 patch is mentioned, which is to play the game through once on vanilla JA2 before applying the patch. Or at least a couple of hours until you feel comfortable with the nuances of the base game.

      Jagged Alliance 2 is a difficult and complex game to begin with — the learning curve at the start of the game is particularly steep — and 1.13 adds much more complexity and even more difficulty on top of that.

      That being said, I haven’t tried the community patch in a couple of years, so maybe they’ve toned some of it down by now, but I still recommend playing the latest official version first.

      I’d also say that there’s no shame at peeking at some FAQ’s during the first couple of parts of the game, JA was hardcore in a era that was already notably less into handholding than modern games.

      Despite all those warnings: enjoy! Jagged Alliance 2 is a spectacular game.

  7. Olaf_Merchant says:

    Backed, but waiting for the inevitable post 1.0 Deadline release, where they add in all the stuff they ‘had to leave out’ to make the release date. Tried it some weeks ago in the closed beta, and the amount of bugs did put me on a worried mood- so I’m reserving final verdict until they’ve actually gone and finished the game…

  8. GoodKnight says:

    Guys don’t try the game just yet you will get disappointed (in my opinion :D) give it a few months to finish adding all the shiat that is missing and at the same time I’m sure a few mods will pop up (there already is a nice mod by a modder from JA with weapons in it) Just saying give this game a chance in a few months.

  9. Stardog says:

    Is it better than Back in Action? BiA had its faults, but also had its good parts.

  10. XhomeB says:

    Well, the game was bound to disappoint some people anyway, based on two things:
    – the tiny budget
    – the fact JA2 was SO GOOD.
    I honestly hope they get the chance to polish it up, judging from the comments on Steam forums, the potential IS there, the game just needs more content overall.

    • manny says:

      Main problem is the graphics must have taken almost all their budget and time to make it not look like crap in 3D. Given their budget and the complexity of the game, it’s quite an achievement.

      That meant polishing would be lacking, requiring a sequel or expansion to get right, but the firm foundation is there. It was really ridiculous to expect a game as polished as JA2 with 3D graphics with the budget they got. Not even the Shadowrun team could do that (singleplayer was mediocre and no quicksaves) and they got 5 times more money.

      So if you like JA2 you should buy the game to support the future expansion and improvement of the game. They’ve literally pressed coal into a rough diamond here.

  11. Calculon says:

    Here’s an excerpt from the ‘backer release email’ – hope Im not in any violation of Terms of Use by posting this here…but as you can see, they are aware of the gaps that need to be plugged

    A lot of people have asked us what happens on the other side of the release. The answer is “it depends”. It depends on sales really. We have to feed our families and pay the bills like everyone else, and only if the game sells will we be able to do bigger expansions.

    BUT – we have a track record of post-launch support, and we are dedicated to that for JAF as well. So coming up in some weeks from now will be a free upgrade with some of the content that didn’t get into the 1.0 release.

    Read on!

    The first 2 things are features we really really would have loved to have in 1.0, but that didn’t make the deadline.

    – Weapon attachments
    Scopes, silencers, ammo extenders and more!!

    – Ammo types
    Armor piercing, hollowpoint and other nasty pieces of lead

    Additionally we want to add more content to the game. So

    – Soviet weapon pack
    As pointed out by the community, we added a lot of western weapons to the game. Its time to look at the old Soviet weapons and get a batch of them into the drop tables.

    And lastly 2 features that didn’t turn out as great as they could have. So we will fix them up and polish:

    – Shotguns:
    Making shotguns look and feel more “blasty” – make them shoot multiple projectiles at once, so you get that great “buckshot” feel.

    – Better shop interface:
    A proper shop with images, stats and also ability to sell your items again

    What is on the horizon past that is a big unknown. Bugfixes are a given, but content wise we don’t want to promise something we can’t deliver. So let’s see what happens over the next weeks. Kickstarter related info

    • Hex says:

      Hmm. It seems like this is information that they would want to have available.

  12. LoneTurtle says:

    Make a game with a well known title to be sure to sell some copies is a huge mistake.

    If you like good old mechanisms with mercenaries, take a look to this game under dev:
    IndieDB Cold Contract

  13. Shardz says:

    Jagged Alliance 2 v1.13 is the only Jagged Alliance game in the entire series (related or pertaining to in any way) that is worthy of commenting upon. The mod adds more than you will ever see in a lifetime and it runs on the most modest of systems. The entire struggle to get this game into 3D properly is laughable as nearly every studio has failed miserably in their plight to get it right.

  14. caff says:

    I think it’s a pretty good stab at the Jagged Alliance formula. I tried the EA over the weekend. The engine seemed pretty solid so may be a good base on which to improve & expand, but I haven’t gone deep enough yet to experiment with the gameplay (i.e. blowing holes in walls then shooting through them, one of my favourite features of JA2). Plus some of the voice acting seemed a bit… tame. But for such a low budget, it’s quite impressive.

    JA2 was a wonderful game, but it wasn’t without it’s faults. Having to line up the “hand” cursor in a specific position. The stealth being fairly redundant after a shot is fired. The overpowered AI on some of the later “Unfinished Business” maps when you play on hard mode.

  15. JFS says:

    They really left out half the features of JA2. I’m not sad I didn’t back more than a symbolic dollar.

  16. statistx says:

    The reason why I don’t dish out money for a modern revival of my nostalgia is, because all those remakes are pretty bad, one way or another so far.