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Jagged Alliance: Rage! Review

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Surviving in the jungle, looting fallen enemies, sneaking past guards, and engaging in turn-based firefights: welcome to Jagged Alliance: Rage! Its beginning is simple, as with most turn-based strategy games. First, you choose two mercenaries to be your team of warriors that fight their way through a battalion of evildoers. You then complete a short tutorial and soon begin your journey across the island. The most notable of the problems within this title comes unexpectedly quickly: The dialogue and voice acting are poor.

Needless to say, it really is a turn off in modern gaming when the voice acting and scripts fall short and convey no sense of urgency or realism. As strategy fans, we’re fairly used to hearing poor dialogue, but most of the time this is rectified with immersive and intense gameplay. Sadly, Jagged Alliance: Rage! misses this mark by a long shot.

BEAUTY IS THE BASTION

Without a doubt, Jagged Alliance: Rage! is beautiful. The art direction is extremely creative and welcomed. It seamlessly blends a vibrant cartoon style with a gritty design. The buildings, plants, and character models are all thoughtful compositions. This style is actually very refreshing in a strategy sense. There is a scarcity in this design concept, and I am wholeheartedly impressed with the artistic execution.

GAMEPLAY

This will be the part of writing this review that genuinely breaks my heart. The developer, Cliffhanger Productions, implemented such great ideas into a turn-based game, but sadly fell short on every aspect of what makes a memorable squad-driven turn-based strategy game. The part that most veterans of the Jagged Alliance series will find unsettling is the limitation to only two mercenaries, instead of a full squad. While I do think it is an ambitious move and I do understand that this adds to a tactical overlay, it just doesn’t feel right in the Jagged Alliance saga.

With that said, the control you have over your mercenaries is phenomenal. As the commander, you have the ability to make your soldiers move quietly to set up ambushes, melee, or ranged attacks; run and generate sound to any nearby foes; or even go prone and crawl through tall grass or under windows to avoid detection. These are the type of movement capabilities that should set a benchmark for all future turn-based strategy games.

Let’s not forget the survival systems in place: Your mercenaries need to drink water; bandage wounds; and loot ammo, weapons, and armor. While it’s fantastic to watch your soldiers evolve from simply wearing camo fatigues to wearing armor, having backpacks, sporting a sweet helmet and rocking some serious firepower, at some point, this all feels so monotonous. Mission after mission you need to ensure your two battle buddies are well hydrated and well rested at camps to recover from wounds. This creates an overall slowing of what is already turn-oriented gameplay.

Lastly, the map size is severely claustrophobic. Each battle acts as an “instance” through the game world. These maps leave very little to tactical decisions, as they are far too small to be able to fully realize the fantastic options laid out before you. While I do admire and respect how much time it takes to develop these areas, there just simply isn’t a large enough play space to enjoy. This leaves you with rather obvious pathing choices that cripple the idea of tactical strategy. This problem alone truly limits the replayability of this title.

4

The Verdict: Flawed

Jagged Alliance: Rage! has incredible ideas on how to improve the turn-based strategy genre, however, it simply falls short in every aspect that could attract newcomers and veterans alike to the series. The map sizes, monotonous survival elements, limited squad sizes, and not-so-great voice acting cripples this “could have been” title.

Bric Hudson
Written by
Thursday, 27 December 2018 06:22
Published in Adventure

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Bric is a US Army veteran and a passionate gamer. While in military service, he found gaming to be a way to connect with his friends all over the world. This blossomed into a fascination with the gaming culture and the experiences had while launching up a whole new title. He is fond of a variety of genres, which is reflected on his Twitch streams and on his Youtube channel. Find Bric on YouTube. Find Bric on Twitch.

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