Archive for November, 2013

Even if you already liked Jagged Alliance 2 A LOT, you’ll still get a whole lot more appreciation for the masterpiece it was, after playing Back in Action. In JABiA countless great features from the original were removed and a few more were changed (not always to the better) and yet: it still can be quite the fun game. That’s how good JA2 was! Only a few pieces of it suffice to make a decent enough game… Although it IS a little bit sad, that JABiA is the best Jagged Alliance game since JA2 itself. ;)

I tried to play JABiA last year when it came out, but initially it was riddled with bugs and I lost the motivation to finish it. I decided to wait until they had finished their patch cycle (nice touch: they stopped at 1.13). The final version is so much better now, I only encountered a few minor bugs and it didn’t crash once during my lengthy campaign (first version never managed to achieve a high uptime – same PC).

A few of the points that BiA lacks in comparison to the original:

– all cut scenes with Deidranna and Elliott were “removed”/forgotten (how could they?!?) – that costs the game so much atmosphere, fun, story, depth…
– the beautifully animated character portraits were replaced with ugly 3D portraits
– Ira still exists, but doesn’t tell stories anymore, about all the locations she knows inside out, again – huge atmo-killer
– only guns can be repaired now, thus all the equipment must be replaced frequently
– it’s no longer possible to build stuff/mod weapons with found items
– even if the Meduna airport is conquered, all of Bobby Ray’s deliveries are automatically send to Drassen, it’s not possible to select another destination
– “the Internet” now only has Bobby Ray’s and AIM – no flowers etc…
– Skyrider’s helicopter (just isn’t the same without his confirmations :P) and all cars were removed
– several characters are missing
– quests were removed, but there are some new ones as well
– rocket rifles (which now use the same ammo as laws) can be used right away, no need to have them hacked in Grumm – the dude who did it is no longer in the game
– weapons have fantasy names (a little bit of a mood killer), I remember the original had all the correct names (or was that only with 1.13 mod? not sure!)
– mercs are now paid once and then stick around for the rest of the game, removing any need to conquer mines as fast as possible (maybe being unable to repair anything besides weapons balances this a bit)
– real-time with pause replaced the action point system (that one hardly bothered me, it could still be configured to pause the game whenever an enemy was spotted)
– worst removal of them all: there’s no “alter ego”/custom merc for the player anymore, all gone along with the awesome test from Psych Pro Inc. (IMP) – so much for xep624 ;)

So all in all it seems like no one will ever make a game like JA2 again. Features that seemed normal then, are now simply out of the question (just like no one will ever make another Star Trek movie again). When I defeated Deidranna at the end of BiA, I only learned that it was her, because the game immediately ended. No final words, no nothing. She acted like all the other hostiles. Only final remarks of the mercs before the ending credits were kept. And of course the game had achievements…

I don’t want to speculate all too much if they were out of time/money during development, so… But it sure looks as if something like that was the case. :P Sometimes it feels like a prototype, that is created by a studio before voices/characters/story are put in. Just a basic proof that the game system works. It at least should have been possible to put a few lines of text in here and there. It wouldn’t have been necessary to voice everything.

Right now I’m wondering if I should try Jagged Alliance: Crossfire, the direct sequel to this game from the same studio. I read it has more “stuff” (like weapons…) in it, which is exactly what BiA could have used more of and it returns M.E.R.C. the worse competitor of A.I.M. from JA2.