Gaming Flashback: Jagged Alliance: Back in Action
Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is a top down game much like X-Com the original and X-Com Enemy Unknown. All two of the games mentioned deal with a very steep difficulty. Back in Action features some very difficult combat. When the bullets start firing you start ducking. Tactical game play is not very uncommon when playing this game. In fact, it may described as a downright top down/tactical shooter.
Back in Action consists of a lot of elements of game play. I played a game on the normal difficulty and in Back in Action there's an option to choose line of sight. It depends on you the gamer if you want to see line of sight or just throw it into the wind.
So there is a standard way of starting the game out. Yeah, not exactly standard but the way you the reader should look at it. There's a map and then blam! some very James Bond-esque music will play and you choose what homies to hire. As this should not be slang based, there are no homies but very expensive mercenaries. Seriously, who is going to pay for a mercenary named Scully? I would not even want a relative named Scully. Unless, you know it was from the X-Files. Because then you could sign me up for at least three Scullies. Let's digress and move on to the preparation stages for playing the game.
Bond music...check! Mercenaries that are worth a hefty price tag...check! A map that is visually appealing...check! Now then onward to the next part. So you start with 40,000 dollars which is such a meager budget. Don't you want to hire a mercenary that is worth a damn? How are you supposed to do that with peon cash? That is where the game gets interesting in the preparation stages. Your organization that you indeed work for is called AIM. What that stands for is anybody's guess. American Intelligence Moles? American Infrared Martins? It is probably none of those. There are four tabs: E -mail, recruiting, quest notes and financial. The vast majority are self explanatory. E-mail you just check to see what the boss wants. Donuts again? Recruiting is where you can recruit mercenaries with names like Scully, Trevor, Shadow and Scope to name a few. Quest notes you can participate in certain quests like 'Find the rebel leader'. No this is not really a Star Wars reference. But you see what was done there with Rebel right?
On the play through I was playing I took my measly 40,000 dollars and invested in a mercenary named Bull. Bull is a surgeon looking fella and I contacted him via Metal Gear Solid style. Or rather he contacted me and said, "What do you want." And here you can smile because of how ridiculously campy the dialogue is. So from here you can choose to hire or not. So naturally I hired the mercenary the one they call Bull and went on. There's so many attributes to consider: you have strength, stamina, skill etc; It may remind you of a very complicated game of Dungeons and Dragons or Ice Wind Dale. Anway, I had to select another mercenary. Cynthia "Fox" Guzzman it read, and it freaked me out a bit because Fox? Are you not getting this? Grey Fox....METAL GEAR. Digressing is important because the next thing that happened was guys were lined up on the screen, contra looking guys with guns. And because this is a tactically savvy game you can't just open fire on people. It takes varying degrees of stealth and dare to say tactics. Bull and Fox were a team albeit a team of a surgeon and a high pitched woman, the mission I choose to delve into was: Drassen City.
It always starts with some sort of fence. Don't make me blurt out Metal ----. The controls that are used are the mouse. Issue orders with the mouse to proceed and not get shot. There were roughly six buildings in sight of this huge open spaced Drassen City jungle area. It felt really good to start both Bull and Fox were in the green. And then all hell broke loose. Lying dead on the ground without any type of resuscitation was Fox. She was trying to crawl and there was Bull wounded as men and glasses started firing hot bullets at both. There was some cover but not a whole lot. This is how brutally ruthless Back in Action is. Then you have to start the process all over again selecting mercenaries with less than 40,000 dollars. So the lesson was learned to plan your coordinated attack a head of time. I brought them both up and used them as a dual unit. And it was costly as they both essentially bled to death.
Back in Action's attributes can get complicated but the game play is extremely strategically well placed. The creators decided to go to great lengths to make the AI somewhat competent or extremely deadly. The gorillas have brains and can flank you if you're not careful. Make sure you're behind cover at all times and like X-Com move with purpose and methodology. Be methodical because if you're not, you the reader, then you'll turn into just a bloody tire, laying there and waiting for evacuation with your partner also dead like rotting bacon. The game engine is smartly designed because it takes into account firing in cover and out of cover. The game is highly challenging in movement and trying not to end up dead. Maybe you'll play with Scully or maybe you won't or maybe you will play MGS. Either way Back in action is a very well made game with very minor flaws. Welcome to the Jungle!