Here we have another 90’s based game that is ready to make a comeback but will it be worth your time? Jagged Alliance: Rage is a turn-based strategy game set around mercenaries who receive a mission to save another mercenary. Imagine that. Opening the game we get to choose from a rag tag team that is apparently saddened by the lack of mercenary jobs. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. For instance one of the characters I chose Ivan, could act as a human shield and carry more items in his inventory. Unfortunately his weakness was alcohol and if he wasn’t given enough to drink his aiming would suffer. Each character is just like this and it definitely plays into the strategy of the game so choose wisely.
The characters can be fitted with armor from head to toe with each piece receiving a rating in strength. You can pick up armor such as helmets, chest plates, and knee pads. Be careful though because your armor will wear down and become useless after a while. You will need more than just armor if you are to survive in this game and you better prepare to decide which items you want in your equipment slots. Here you can have items like guns, water, ammo, bandages and pretty much anything else you can get your hands on. Some guns take up one slot and some will use up two slots. What helps is that you have two hands and each can be fitted with an item as well, smart thinking if you ask me. It might be wise to at least use one of those slots for water, or alcohol in Ivan’s case. Your character will need water and will require rest and you can find their status on the character info page. It is very important to pay attention to the status because the resting is limited.
That would lead us to the map and its use. The map plays out from point to point travel and you will need to strategize how you want to move. In some cases there will be enemies hot on your trail and you will have to decide whether to rest or keep moving forward. If the enemies catch up then you are forced into combat with them. With each turn of the map you can rest if you choose and this will give you the opportunity to do things such as recover, craft weapon modifications, repair weapons, move items into your group stash or heal up if needed. Your characters can take on shrapnel or bleeding status so be mindful of that as well. You can fix those afflictions while resting up. The one thing I didn’t like is that you can only chose one action per turn. It would have been nice if you could have at least used two moves. That is why it is so important to stay on top of your characters status. Become thirsty with low health at the same time and it can make things difficult. The overall map feel was pretty neat and as the game progresses it becomes more involved but I won’t spoil anything.
This is a turn-based strategy game right? Indeed it is and nothing would say that more than having to move your characters into combat zones one move at a time. This certainly slows the pace of the game down but offers more time to pick and choose how you want to attack situations. However it will probably frustrate you once you start moving your character as the controls can be rather clunky and unresponsive. On numerous occasions my character was moved to the wrong location due to this and with limited moves you can’t afford to have this in the game. It doesn’t break the game but it doesn’t help it either. The environment of each combat zone (which is set up in a square grid) is done really well with buildings, brush and the surrounding jungle but at times it can become a clutter. This makes it difficult to see who are what is around you. To have something look so cool but at the same time make it almost impossible to see things was confusing. However having a hostile counter at the top of the screen was very helpful and a great idea.
You can approach each situation differently as well. Stealth is always your friend in these types of games but that doesn’t mean you can’t go in guns blazing. For the most part you will find yourself in a shootout regardless. While the stealth is cool with being able to sneak or crawl towards an enemy, it just doesn’t work well. As you move your character if your line of movement turns red that means you are moving into the line of sight of the enemy. I tried to crawl, sneak, or flat out move around but found myself with no other option other than a gunfight. The only reason that saddened me was because the stealth attacks were genuinely fun to use. The animations of sneaking up behind an enemy and taking them out was done well and I wanted more of it. With that said the gun animations were done just as well. I did enjoy getting into shootouts and the cover works great in the game. While in combat you can choose which weapon to use and then what part of the enemies’ body you want to aim at. Of course each part has a different percentage of chance of making that critical hit. Adding the enemies’ armor level to it was an added bonus as well. There was a slight problem with the combat and choosing which enemy to shoot at. It is cumbersome and at times does not want to work properly. I want my transition between looking at the targets to work in a nice fluid way but here that is not the case and it should be worked on. It is a very good thing that you can rotate the camera angle 360 degrees though because again, being able to see enemies or items is difficult.
You already know that you will be taking turns with the enemy as far as movement and combat but did you know that each turn your character will say something like “Let’s Go” every damn time? This was increasingly annoying as the game went on and I didn’t understand why that decision was made to implement that in, say it once as the combat begins and leave it at that. You can loot an enemy after he’s dead by standing next to him or wait until the battle is over and remote loot everything in the combat zone. I liked this idea and it helps you decide what to take and what to leave behind. Unfortunately be prepared to loot through a ton of the same items. You can also unload any enemies weapon and take the ammo, this was very helpful and kickass. I put kickass in my notes, I swear.
Now that all the bad guys have been defeated and all the items looted it is time to chat with some NPCs if there are any at that location. The dialogue in the game isn’t the best but it isn’t the worst you will ever hear either. For the most part I enjoyed interacting with the NPCs as you get options of what to say in response. This is always a fantastic idea in games. Of course like much of the game it is overshadowed by a problem. While speaking to an NPC the music and sound blasts over the dialogue making it hard to decipher at times. Maybe that is a tad nitpicky but it’s a simple fix, lower the music while interacting with other characters. After all that is done then you are free to leave the zone at any time. Yep that is right you can just pause the game and leave which makes the exit zones utterly useless, that is I guess unless you need to carry out an injured character.
As a whole Jagged Alliance: Rage is a decent turn-based strategy game. The story line becomes more involved as the game progresses and this helps keeps you interested in a very slow paced game. The mercenaries are developed well and the other characters in the game do help round it out nicely. However with clunky controls, strange visuals at times and some of the useless options in the game hold it back. If you enjoy this type of game then it is worth a look and it might even make for a fun weekend play through. Just temper your expectations.
A copy of the game was provided for review.
Rating: 7 out of 10