The ranks of the Jagged Alliance series, with its myriad sequels, remakes, expansion packs, mods-gone-pro, cancelled MMOs and unofficial spin-offs, rival only the So Solid Crew in terms of headspinning numbers and impossible-to-remember names.
After a frankly turgid couple of decades, it’s back once again for the one-time king of turn-based mercenary argy-bargy. Can Jagged Alliance: Rage score the Arnie-does-X-COM series a critical and/or commercial hit for the first time since 1999?
Announced today, it’s due out later this year, and looks like this…
For reference, it’s not made by anyone involved in any of the original 90s JA games, but does mark a return to the series for the developers of the unloved Jagged Alliance Online.
If, after watching the above, you’re thinking “this is trying to be XCOM to JA 1/2’s X-COM” you’re on the right track. I’m playing preview code of JA: Rage right now, and I’ll bash my thoughts into some kind of half-legibility tomorrow, but in short, yeah. It’s trying to streamline and adrenalise turn-based bad dude-bashing, similarly to how Firaxis remixed alien aggravation for more mass-market sensibilities.
I’m too early in to make a judgement just yet, so let’s opt for official word until tomorrow:
“Set 20 years after the first Jagged Alliance, this spin-off lets you experience a road trip into a jungle hell to test your mind and body to the limits.
“In Jagged Alliance: Rage! you are constantly on the brink of breakdown. Badly equipped and outnumbered, it’s up to the player to lead their seasoned mercenaries in tactical turn-based missions and to light the spark of a revolution.”
Which… isn’t terribly helpful, is it? JA: Rage is TBS through-and-through, but the main twist is that your ageing mercs are now on a bit of a back-foot, liable to pick up the likes of infections and long-term injuries, and dependent on scavenging weapons, ammo and bandages of insalubrious origin from the battlefield.
It’s not a survival game, but there is a bit of a make-do-and-mend survival vibe. There’s also an ongoing choice between stealth and all-out gun-fun, and the occasional PYO dialogue option.
Oh, and ‘Rage’ abilities, special attacks and whatnot that charge up as your mercs get knee-deep in blood – again, drifting this slightly closer to XCOM.
You’ll notice from the above video that it’s simultaneously working to be fresh’n’flashy and carry over olden JA faces to appease the old guard. Having and eating one’s cake is never easy, is it?
Jagged Alliance: Rage is due for release for $20 this autumn, published by Handy Games, which is a recently-acquired new fork of THQ Nordic, and developed by Cliffhanger Productions, they of the ill-fated Jagged Alliance Online and the not-terrible Shadowrun Chronicles. There’s a website with more details and screens here. More from me on this tomorrow, once I’ve sunk some proper hours in.