Jagged Alliance is back after a long break, in fact, 20 plus years. The turn-based tactics video game series makes a comeback and this time it blasts its way into consoles. When I first came across Jagged Alliance Rage when it was announced, I was hyped and thought: “Oh great, another team based FPS” which is one of my favourite genres. When I read a bit more and found out it was a turn-based strategy game… I have to be honest, something bummed as that really isn’t my bag. I did enjoy tabletop gaming in my younger years, but when the chance came up to review it, I wanted to give it a go, there was something that was pulling me into the game and I wanted to try it out. Continue reading and see if Jagged Alliance makes a welcome comeback.
Published by – THQ Nordic
Developed by – Cliffhanger Productions
Platforms Available On – PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed on Xbox One)
Available now priced – £23.99 (Uk Xbox Store price)
To give you a brief insight of Jagged Alliance Rage’s plot, the story is set 20 years after the original Jagged Alliance story. This time around there is a new band of Mercenaries put together to take down the drug overlord that runs the Jungle Island. The best way to think of Jagged Alliance Rage if you are new to the series (as me) would be to imagine if someone made a tabletop game of The A Team (OH GOD, IF ONLY…) and then you are someway there.
At the beginning of the game, you are captured by an evil Drug Lord who wants to turn you into one of his soldiers by using a super drug he has invented. You’ll have to use your skills and coordinate with your team to escape and stop him before it’s too late…
The mercenaries you have at your disposal are: Helmut Grunty, a seasoned professional in the merc business, martial arts master Dr. Q, Vicky Waters, who turned into a mercenary when her family was wiped out in a civil war, Kyle The Shadow, an ex Ranger who makes stalking an artform, ex SWAT sharpshooter Charlene Raven and lastly, Ivan Dolvich, a highly decorated Red Army Major. As you can agree from that list there’s team at your disposal that truly covers all the bases and each mercenary comes with their own benefits to the team and will help or hinder you depending on your choices.
When you load up the game you are greeted with some dramatic music, which really gets you in the mood, I must admit. You need to choose your team firstly; if you’re playing single player you get to choose two characters to control. Now, here you need to be careful who you choose as some characters are better skilled at different tasks than others, for example, getting carried away with my testosterone levels I went straight for the biggest guys Ivan and Helmut, well two big muscle men aren’t really the best at sneaking so you should pick two characters that compliment each other, in the end after a bit more of research, I picked Ivan and Kyle as he is a good mix of sneak and stealth, pretty balanced overall.
Now as I play through the tutorial, I find myself slightly out of my comfort zone and makes me start to think how my actions have different consequences; “so if I move my character over there, I can’t creep past the guard there” that type of thought which is completely different to my normal run and gun Rambo style.
Once you get your head around the controls, it becomes a much more enjoyable game and feels a lot more smoother and I found it easier to connect my plans and put them all in place. The gameplay itself is pretty much down to the player as how you go about it. I found stealth to be the more easier option as just running alerts the armed guards and all hell breakes loose, getting really hard to defeat them in turn, but still possible.
The maps are very well animated and thought out and there is something quite fun about creeping on your foes through the long jungle grass or skipping across rooftops to get to the exit zone. You have a map of the island that you work around meaning you can go back and repeat missions if you feel like you’ve missed something. Another thing I like is the fact that certain characters can’t do certain things, for example, Ivan can’t hide in the grass as well as Ghost, which makes you think about your character choices a lot more than you may normally do.
The general character choices are very well done with the animation of each and the tongue in cheek voices, although after a while it does become slightly cheesy and a bit annoying.
The evil drug lord and the army you are fighting against is pretty much the off the shelf bad guy you may have come across in most action games or films. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as these are my favourite genres, but it does have a same old feeling to it.
You do have an online mode which I think would be pretty cool to get four of your mates together and have a few missions, a bit like having a few mates around for a few rounds of tabletop gaming, unfortunately, having tried a few times I didn’t get the chance to get a game online going on. I’m sure as the game becomes more popular, support will grow.
Graphics and Sound
Cliffhanger have gone for a cell shaded cartoon graphics style and it works really well, looking smoothly done. As I’ve said before, the maps are very well planned out and have a good feel to them when playing. I am in love with the soundtrack and completely feeling the dramatic rock themes. The only bad thing for me is the voice acting isn’t the best and does get repetitive; what starts off being funny can get a bit boring when you’ve heard it a few times.
To wrap up my thoughts on Jagged Alliance Rage I must say I like the game and it definitely is a game I will keep going back to. Hopefully, when the online mode gathers support, I may be able to get a few online games under my belt. It definitely is a theme to explore and would recommend picking it up but competition is tough and may as well be a case of holding out until it’s on sale, but most definitely, one to add to your collection.