John McCarroll
E3 2011: Kalypso Remakes Jagged Alliance 2
Impressions of Jagged Alliance: Back in Action.
06.07.11 - 10:57 AM

Some might say that the Jagged Alliance titles don't fit under our field of coverage, and to those people, I'd say that Jagged Alliance: Back in Action has some of the most distilled elements of the Strategy RPG out there. There's not a whole lot in the way of character development, but this remake of Jagged Alliance 2 from bitComposer and Kalypso is all about the numbers and the strategy. With that, I'm fairly certain that if you're excited for October 20th to roll around for this title, you're going to enjoy it.

Jagged Alliance fits somewhere between turn-based strategy and real-time strategy, with a healthy heaping of numbers and statistics thrown in. With the majority of its gameplay taking place in a pseudo-turn based mode (think Neverwinter Nights or Baldur's Gate) where the player can pause combat and take things turn by turn. Kalypso feels that this is a bit more accessible than the original Jagged Alliance titles, but still provides the same deep experience as the original game. What Kalypso showed us showed that a great majority of the game will be familiar with veterans - the classless character progressions, the laptop interface for e-mails, dossiers, missions, and other content, and the ability to control different parts of the island, including mines and other economic resources.

The same team of 60 mercenaries are available to liberate this island, and they're back with new HD artwork. These mercs all have personality quirks and work with each other with different levels of enthusiasm. Put together a group of tight friends, and they'll work all the better together. Have comrades that fight like cats and dogs? You're not going to function well as a group. All of these mercenaries have a paper doll-style inventory system and can carry a grip of weapons. And because there are no classes in Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, your mercs aren't restricted to a small amount of weapons each. They'll banter during gameplay and will all have unique dialogue.

On the micro level, combat is fairly straightforward. As mentioned above, it feels like Baldur's Gate, which is a compliment to this remake. When an enemy is contacted, the game will enter Play-And-Go mode, where each turn will cause a pause for more strategic gameplay. As well, all six characters, when paused in Play-And-Go mode, appear on a grid at the bottom so that you can get the timing of your strategy just right. Modes can be swapped at will by pressing the space bar. On the macro level, players are given a strategic view of the island so that they can decide which sectors to take next, and can leave militia groups to defend parts of the island that they've already captured.

bitComposer and Kalypso have something that can appeal to both old-school fans of the series and those who weren't even born yet when the original title saw release in 1994. We're excited to see it when it hits its October release date, and it will be available for PC via both retail and digital distribution methods.