Would you like some real-time to go with that turn-based strategy?
The new Jagged Alliance game is all about bridging gaps. It’s about mixing old and new, striking a balance between usually opposing gameplay styles, and reminding us (or newly informing us, depending on your age) fondly of how silly it was to get on the internet in the '90s.
Not quite the sequel that some have been hoping for, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is really Jagged Alliance 2 for the modern gamer. This full-fledged remake features the same plot of utilizing mercenaries to depose a dictator in the fictional nation of Arulco. It has the same roster of mercenaries as the original, along with the delightful 56k dial-up internet sounds when you contact them for hire.
Aside from the 3D graphics update, it may not seem like there’s a whole lot that’s different about Back in Action—until you get into the nitty-gritty of the missions. Going out on a limb and departing from the traditional turn-based action of the series, developer bitComposer has thrown in the spicy meatball that is real-time strategy… sort of.
In this iteration, battle revolves around the “plan-and-go” system. Once you take your mercenaries into a level, you can order them wherever to move quickly and easily in real-time. Enemy positions can also be seen from anywhere on the map now, unless they’re hiding in buildings. With plan-and-go, you can pause the action at any time to give individual orders to your little guys, with significant details like taking prone or crouching positions or staggering the order sequence between soldiers so they time their actions together.
There’s also a healthy load of triggers that you can set for the game to automatically go into plan-and-go mode, the simplest example being encountering an enemy combatant. If you have this particular trigger set on, then any time your mercs run into a bad guy the plan-and-go interface will launch so that you can always give the most prudent and immediate orders in a combat situation.
It may not be Jagged Alliance 3, but Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is enough of a revamp that it should satisfy veterans and newbies alike when it lands in February next year.