Jagged Alliance Online: Beta Impressions
By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor), OnRPG Journalist
Jagged Alliance Online is the modern version of the ever-popular classic game Jagged Alliance. This turn-based tactical action RPG builds on the series' strengths to become a browser-based MMOG with extraordinarily high-quality graphics and an unparalleled game experience. The sophisticated artificial intelligence and great variety of different opponent types make each of the more than one hundred missions available a real tactical challenge. An innovative player vs. player mode allows players to measure their skills against those of other players.
Back in the old days when I was a little boy I got familiar with this tactical role-playing game called Jagged Alliance 2. I must have spent months playing that game and trying to complete the quest line that I was following. The story was a well crafted centerpiece of the entire product, but the mechanics and features that the Jagged Alliance series offer were unlike any other games available at the time. For me personally the game got me in touch with tactical turn-based role playing games, and I had a lot of fun playing it back in the days. Since I managed to grab a key for the closed beta of Jagged Alliance Online I was really psyched to try this new sequel. I have been waiting a long time for a sequel and there were a lot of rumors a few years ago about Jagged Alliance 3D but unfortunately the studio that was making that game had to close down, erasing all hopes of the game ever launching. Just when this game was beginning to fade into history, Gamigo announced Jagged Alliance Online.
When I made my character and company I quickly got into the tutorial that explained the basic mechanics and UI. Every player starts off with 1 mercenary. For the newcomers that aren’t really familiar with the mechanics of the Jagged Alliance series, you set out to build a powerful cohesive mercenary team as you travel around the world taking on odd covert operations. As your company grows, you will acquire more mercenaries that all have different stats and weapon specialization. And for those who are familiar, this new sequel has some of the old known faces from the previous game to add that nice kick of nostalgia in. Unfortunately they were still a little too expensive for me and I was a too low level to hire the big shots so I had to do it with one mercenary for now. In the first mission I took on, I relearned the basics of the turn-based combat and movement, but there was something new! It was possible to view the area in 3D at your mercenary’s point of view and thus gave me more possibilities to scout the area better.
Unfortunately your mercenary has to say something EVERY time he moves which didn’t happen that often in the previous titles and I got tired of hearing the same line over and over after a while, resulting in me muting him in the options.. Since the last title was released more than 10 years ago I was quite happy to see the graphics so detailed and up to date. The UI has been reworked to perfection and the overall production value is much higher. I do miss the use of the laptop like in the previous games but that doesn’t spoil the fun. The combat mechanics seem to work quite nice just as the previous title; you can aim for the body or you can aim for the head which offers the basic risk reward trade off of higher damage for less accuracy. Though be cautious as helmet wearing foes won’t go down from any basic headshot.
In general the game has a lot of improvements over the previous titles and this sequel brings no shame to the Jagged Alliance series. It’s a relief to see that the game didn’t change any important factors that made the series a lot of fun, and I really like the fact that you could play with the old mercenaries that also still have the same voices and sound they made like in the previous games. This game is still in beta so there will be a lot of fixes and changes before launch, but as the game is currently stands I cannot wait to get my hands on the full version.