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Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Review

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Updated Tue, Feb 21, 2012 by Stow

Jagged Alliance has been a relatively quiet franchise, despite all of the critical acclaim for the second game.  So rather than build on its rich past of non-linear mercenary work, Back in Action just decides to do it all again, with a slew of simplified features designed to make the game appeal more to today’s Call of Duty-level of gamer.

Yes, that’s an insult—much like this game.

Cautions

JA:BIA is rated M for Mature. It’s a realistic combat game with its fair share of mature topics.

Gameplay

60Below Average

The gist of Jagged Alliance remains the same. You take up camp on an island belonging to an evil dictator, hire up a bunch of mercenaries, and take land back piece by piece until you can put an end to the chaos. The core of the gameplay lies in the tactical combat and resource management, because your mercenaries don't work for free and require upgrades to both equipment and skills in order to remain effective. Money from missions remains tight throughout the game and the decision as to how to spend it presents the biggest strategic challenge to players.

When the battles break out though, the differences between the original and this remake present themselves quite clearly. Gone are the days of turn-based strategy--everything that happens in Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is real time. The ability to pause and issue orders still exists, but all hell can break loose as a well laid plan can fall apart as quickly as a run and gun one.

A riveting shootout .  It would be a bit more convincing if this was the revolutionary war.

This is especially true given the horribly anemic AI.; Not only is the enemy baited into ambushes with ease, your party of mercs won’t even return fire or attempt to defend themselves in melee half of the time. Every single action requires your full attention, which can be frustrating in real time. Even if you pause the game, there’s such a disconnect between strategy and execution that only the most basic of orders should be trusted to the pause-order system.

Mediocrity is the standard here, and whether you’re new to the series or have been waiting for years to get your hands on a spiritual remake, you’ll be disappointed.

Graphics

55MediocreThe isometric view returns, but with a lackluster engine of detail behind it. Camera control is a chore and you are sadly forced to do it in order to open some doors or loot some bodies. Character portraits lack finesse and personality. For a game that is trying to attract a new audience, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action certainly doesn’t seem like it’s trying very hard.

Sound

65AverageA variety of typical quips and unit responses permeate the battleground, but a powerful music score kicking in at some point would have gone a long way toward making this game feel worthwhile. It’s not an assault on your ears; it’s just that sound is forgettable in this game. If guns are all we're going to get to listen to, the developers should have at least given those a little oomph!

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