11th Dec2018

‘Jagged Alliance: Rage!’ Review (PC)

by Britt Roberts

j-alliance-rage-header

A spin-off of the Jagged Alliance series, Jagged Alliance: Rage! is definitely not Jagged Alliance 3, but does it stand on its own? Well, having only a had a brief dalliance with the series’ previous iterations, I came away from this newest installment with the feeling that it really shows its lower budget in some areas but overall is a fun romp through the jungle with satisfying combat and a sense of flow throughout.

For those who aren’t aware of the Jagged Alliance series, it is an isometric, turn-based setup pitting you as a selection of mercenaries (each with their own strengths, weaknesses and foibles) against…well, an army. Split throughout individual pitched battles, you ultimately work for the greater good using bullets, grenades and in this case…a lot of cover.

The characters feel very different and each comes with their own struggles and emotional issues which have an impact on how the game plays out.The sniper, for instance loses her nerve whenever she sees civilian casualties whereas the sneaky devil of the group is prone to infections due his time spent in the jungle. I settled on Ivan, a hulking brute who can barely fit behind cover, has dodgy knees and also an insatiable craving for alcohol (dad?), the other member of my team was Dr. Q, a medic who seems to assume that all alcohol that he comes across in the field will be used to disinfect his tools but we all know will end up being splashed up against a wall by his boozy comrade.

j-alliance-rage-screen-1

The jungle setting of the game and the fact that it opens with you instantly getting knocked out and captured (yay) mean that you start of with very little equipment, it was one of the things I really enjoyed, the sense of building your small team up and scavenging as you play through. The combat was VERY X-COM / Shadowrun Returns with a lot of percentages, charge-bars and special, character-dependant abilities and felt somewhat simplified in comparison to prior entries in the series, but to me, it worked although I must admit two things:

  1. I have no real emotional connection to the series
  2. I’m a sucker for games set in the present with a focus on bullet weaponry and an accessible approach

That said, there were some problems I had that got a bit teeth-grinding after a while. The main one was the sheer repetition of various statements made by the characters in the game. They REALLY repeat themselves. At one point, I raised the alarm (naturally) and SEVEN enemies came out, saw a body on the floor and said, “Mierda! Is that a dead body?” in exactly the same way. Each time you switch characters, get shot or fall and hurt your knees (cheers, Ivan) you’ll hear the same quips over and over and honestly, it was the most tedious part of the game for me.

The music was full of distorted riffs and rumbling bass notes which was absolutely fine and visually, whilst not a looker, it worked for the style of the game. I did have issues with a couple of design choices such as enemies not being easily identifiable and, when a mission was completed, there didn’t seem to be a way to find out the exit point, leading to a bit of wandering around. The story, whilst functional exists primarily to move the action along but I did find myself getting attached to my little squad, especially in the areas where I was getting shafted and had to balance out resting and risking an enemy ambush or pressing forwards, hoping to find medical supplies. There are genuine tactics needed in the game as well, with jamming guns galore (they break so, so easily) and the genuine sense of relief when you find a shiny new helmet or extra carrying capacity etc.

j-alliance-rage-screen-2

As I sat down to write this review after playing Jagged Alliance: Rage! for a few hours, I glanced at the Steam score and it’s currently mostly negative. I don’t want to surmise but I think that this lighter approach to the franchise really may not be for the die-hard, long-term fans out there. Having coming into it pretty much fresh, I was surprised by how fun I found it to make my way through, picking up better guns and re-trying levels when I stumbled into a situation that completely nailed me. That said, I specifically enjoy the more approachable styles in strategy games, hence my preference for the X-COM / Shadowrun style of game play.

As a budget title, I enjoyed Jagged Alliance: Rage! But I do appear to be in the minority in this case and I kind of understand why for the reasons mentioned above, however I can’t dispute that I enjoyed my time with it and would suggest it to friends who want a quick blast of turn-based action without having to spends dozens of hours getting hips deep.

Jagged Alliance: Rage! is out on PC/Steam now

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Off

Comments are closed.