It has been a few years since we have gotten a new addition to the Jagged Alliance series. This particular new addition plans to breathe new life into the franchise to try to reignite the flame that so many fans had with Jagged Alliance 2 while also adapting to what works now. As of writing this review the status for steam seems to average at around mostly negative for this game. Are those reviews accurate? *since there isn’t a neutral rating for steam reviews* Scroll down to find out!
“Jagged Alliance is back – With a new take on turn-based tactics, adventure elements and the well-known quirky mercenaries! 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! This time it’s just you and a few allies versus an entire island ruled by a drug overlord and his crazed army. Constantly on the brink of breakdown, faced with dehydration and no support from home, you lead a team of seasoned mercenaries against vastly outnumbering armed forces.
Use tactical brilliance and guerrilla tactics to destroy their structures and strengthen the island’s population to take back what is rightfully theirs. Do you have what it takes to rise to old glory?”
Jagged Alliance: Rage! has a different take on the traditional tactical combat that the fans of previous games have known to love. It’s not completely different as it first seems since the game heavily implies that you should avoid combat when you can and not go in guns blazing (tactically of course). That is not the case with this game. Basically what the developers did for the combat is to make it so you can approach most missions with more than one way. Where cases you can completely stealth, while in other cases you just need to position yourself as best as you can to get an advantage in a firefight. In theory it sounds great and leaves the player to figure out things for themselves instead of being completely linear about how to handle things. The execution is done fairly decent. It’s really a 50-50 on it.
Moments it feels like the combat is just right when dealing with enemies but then it has it’s moments where it just feels like it’s out of place. In most cases you are limited on characters (most part 2 characters at a time) while in missions you can go up against more than two handfuls of mercs. This right there is frustrating with the way it’s handled. Without properly gearing yourself, and stocking up on bandages and water you will have a miserable time. The character you play as any of them can be killed within a couple turns of starting a bleed out. Then you add the small inventory and that just makes you think “Okay, so I need to stealth as much as possible”.
Which really goes against what the previous games had where it was either full on action or action with hints of stealth. This is where it might be a turn off for some people. In these cases it goes from a tactical action game to just a tactical stealth game that’s jagged alliance themed. Now in this game it’s not open world its similar to instanced games where you go on a map for a mission (ranges from small to medium-sized) then there’s a hub (or well campfire in between missions) where you change gear and stock up on stuff and what not then back to the mission grind. Which I have to admit is disappointing.
The guns in the game though are a big plus since there are quite a few different guns and they really add to the fun of how to handle situations. I found myself enjoying testing out different guns with different characters. Then of course is the skill system which is neat in theory but kind of just is wacky and not in a good way. That specific mechanic felt very off with the game especially since the thought of comparing the game to its predecessor just overall rubbed me the wrong way. It felt like it was only added to give people who feeling of “rush of action” for that turn when using them. When in reality they could just have made the combat more mixed of action and stealth rather than work it around with skills.
Cliffhanger Productions tried to add what they thought was the charm that is in borderlands to the Jagged Alliance franchise. I have to say that charm in the visual sense just doesn’t work it makes the game feel like something that should be a spin-off to Borderlands but was poorly done. The graphic novel models feel lazily slapped together and the animations feel like they just half-assed it and moved on to focus on other elements of the game. Some moments it works though (due to the color of the map, and the shading on the models mixed with the map). Most cases it just makes you go “Whhhyy!?”. It’s a shame, because I’m a huge fan of graphic novel style animation but it just looks cheap and feels cheap. I often tried to not look at the character models (which was hard lol). Here’s a screen shot of one of the better looking uses of the art style:
Honestly.. It’s not great. They tried to hard to emulate Borderland’s writing (being over the top and wacky) and failed miserably in most cases. There are a lot of lines that will make you either cringe or face palm yourself. Half way through the writing downgraded even more to BAD 80s action movie writing which just had me shaking my head at the dialogue between the characters. I’m going to be honest I stopped paying attention to the story halfway through since it was just… getting worse and worse as the game went on. It got to the point where I put music on and forced myself to play the game.
The voice acting was better than the writing and that doesn’t say much. The voice acting was done… decently for an indie game but it didn’t make the game more enjoyable or worse. It just was there. I still ended up putting on music while playing. The voice actors either tried to hard to didn’t try enough when delivering lines. Than there were the times when they were just right and made the dialogue feel… natural for the game (not for anything outside of the game).
The game has enough content (if you aren’t thrown off by the voice acting, writing, and graphics) to replay the game multiple times (especially with friends). The coop feature though is nice, having a friend experiencing a hot mess can make things so much better. That adds a bit of replay value. But for those that aren’t into the coop side of the game the replay value is a bit lower (since the next run will be extremely similar to your first run in terms of enemies). On the plus side is that you can try approaching missions you know differently…
Jagged Alliance: Rage! really missed the marker on a lot but it’s not the worst tactical game on the market. It doesn’t live up to the Jagged Alliance and will most likely not be for any fans of that series. Fans of tactical stealth games who don’t mind the game being rough on the edges may like the game (on sale). That last part is more so my opinion than anything. The game’s length isn’t super short nor is it long, it’s decent sized. If anything the best word to describe this game is decent. It does have some positives but also has quite a few negatives. The game isn’t as bad as people make it out to be but it is nowhere near good enough to give it a fully positive review. This is one of the games that should really fall under “Neutral”.
If you really want to try the game out after this review, you can find it on Steam currently for 10% off the original $20 price!