Impressions from Gamescom: After twenty years, hopefully we will get a quality Jagged Alliance


In 2000, I got my hands on a shareware compilation called Games for Windows 95. It mainly contained really archaic pieces at that time, but one title was significantly younger. The Jagged Alliance 2 demo instantly charmed me, I played it countless times, and to this day I remember desperately waiting for the promised full version in the Score attachment, which still didn’t arrive, so I wished for the full boxed set for my birthday.

Leaving aside the fact that the full game in Score came out the following month, I didn’t care at that point. Because I spent endless hours with my team of mercenaries, liberating the banana republic of Arulco and trembling with fear of what might be waiting for me in the local deep gold mines.

Jagged Alliance 2 is one of my most beloved games, together with the Unfinished Business data disc, it is a tender embrace that I can return to at any time and know that even after twenty years I will not be disappointed. Unfortunately, this cannot be said about all possible attempts to continue.

There have been many attempts to take over the reins over the years, from Jagged Alliance: Back in Action to Hired Guns: Jagged Edge and ending with the appalling Jagged Alliance: Rage!, which to this day no one has been able to meaningfully explain to me the reason for its existence. I had already resigned myself to the fact that Shadow, Ivan, Gus and Raven will forever be remembered when here! Jagged Alliance 3.

Cautious curiosity?

Of course, I watched the announcement of the new game with a sour grin without any high hopes. But in the end, the trailer didn’t seem bad to me, so I jumped at the chance to present it at Gamescom with great gusto.

In the room at the THQ Nordic booth, I was all alone with the developers, and after a short introduction it became clear that they have the same relationship with Jagged Alliance 2 as I do. From all three members of the Bulgarian Haemimont Games development team present, it was felt that they wanted to make the game largely for themselves, which is always a very positive sign.

The premise of the story is completely traditional, but this time, instead of a fictional country in South America, we will go to a fictional African state. The authors themselves say that Africa makes sense to them for several reasons: On the one hand, the black continent is constantly torn by various conflicts, on the other hand, it has a colonial and warlike past behind it, thanks to which we can also find historical pieces of equipment in the game, on the one hand, there is a rich variety of different environments in Africa including arid savannas, deserts, swamps and jungles. Well, here we will also find gem mines that will serve the game economy.

A small country called Grand Chien has had its first free elections in years, but the democratically elected president is soon kidnapped and a paramilitary group called the Legion takes over power in the country. The president’s daughter contacts you with a request for help, but unfortunately she won’t make a date with you in the Petřínská cafe, as Enrico Chivaldori once did. Well, here begins the familiar old Jagged Alliance, just the way we love it.

The year 2000 was calling…

The developers made me aware of their decision to set the game in the early 2000s in the early 2000s, primarily in order to retain the cast of beloved characters from past installments. In total, we get forty fully voiced characters made up of old acquaintances and newcomers. Among those I saw while playing, there are Ivan, Grizzly, Buns, Blood, Ice and Fidel and many others, among the newcomers I was introduced to a young girl from Pakistan, whose name I unfortunately forgot under the onslaught of information.

Setting in the mentioned time period is also important for the overall aesthetics of the computer user interface from which you control your operations. The authors took care to make you nostalgic for the old form of the Internet, the game also contains references to popular technologies such as Skype, here Snype. With a keen eye, I discovered a tab with a link to the IMP agency, which allows you to create your own playable character. Her introduction was not part of the presentation, but it will be in the game, don’t worry!

Instead, our journey led nicely to the website of the AIM agency, where guys and girls are hired who are willing to go through hell for you for an appropriate amount. However, it can easily happen that they reject the engagement, for example because you haven’t performed any extra performances yet, or you have someone in the team who doesn’t smell good to them.

Mercenaries have relationships with each other that can influence their morale and performance, and in some cases, sympathy can also develop in both directions. One particular situation was described to me with laughter, where the said young Pakistani woman may like or dislike an older, experienced mercenary, in both cases because he reminds her of her father.

A proven classic

The map of the game world is again divided by a grid into individual sectors, which you will gradually liberate. Sometimes you will fight on plain plains or on the coast, other times you will face urban development, swamps and other challenging terrain. In addition, the game will contain weather, which will significantly affect the functioning of weapons (they may fail more often in wet conditions), you won’t be able to see much in fog, and so on. In the city, it is also advisable to be careful that civilians do not get caught in the crossfire, after all, you are trying to save the country, not wipe it out.

It is advisable to defend the conquered territories with a trained militia, because of course the Legion is not lazy and will want them back. It’s important to strategically capture important locations like mines, because the worst thing that can happen to you is an empty wallet the moment your minions run out of contracts.

Speaking of mines, of course I had to ask if the game will include a sci-fi mode, and even if we probably won’t meet any Crepitus insects this time, the mysterious smiles showed that the authors have a trump card up their sleeve after all.

The gameplay itself consists of real-time movement around the location, that is, until the moment you encounter an enemy, at which point turn mode starts. The game is fully 3D, you can zoom and rotate the map at will. Mercenaries have a different number of action points to use according to agility, and as usual you can target different body parts.

Allegedly, the missiles are fully simulated, in addition, the game allows for the penetration of some materials. Anyone who has ever played Jagged Alliance knows how much fun it can be to have a randomly deflected projectile hit a fuel tank or other explosive mutt by pure chance. By the way, the game will also offer destructible buildings, so fans of explosives will get their money’s worth.

We can also talk

There is also an RPG system, mercenaries have their own statistics, someone is a sharpshooter, someone is a good medic. Everyone also has a perk, for example the Cuban Fidel can throw two grenades at once, over time you will teach your pets other special skills. A separate chapter is the modification of weapons, which has swelled comfortably since last time, you can view 3D models of each piece of arsenal and hang them with all kinds of attachments and improvements.

But the game will not be all about shooting and destruction, part of the presentation was also a sample of conversations in which you will have different options to react to NPCs, and side stories can develop differently. By making the right choices, for example, you can make someone an ally, or extract important information and, of course, money from them.

I have to say that I left the presentation with a very good feeling. Although the developer studio Haemimont Games is practically unknown, the entire demo gave me the impression that the famous brand is finally in good hands.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the release date yet. When asked if a console version is in the works, the developers responded with a vague statement that they are currently working on polishing the PC experience. So everything is possible.


Source: Games by games.tiscali.cz.

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