Jagged Alliance: Rage – Here we go again

So there is yet another game trying to revamp the Jagged Alliance name. I have lost count of how many that is now since Sir-tech’s masterpiece Jagged Alliance 2. While a company could just take the original formula, update the graphics and improve the UI to please the fans, every iteration tries to put its own spin on things. It is due out in the beginning of December and looks like the most promising remakes so far. However, the developers are the same that did Jagged Alliance Online, so proceed with caution (although I did enjoy their game Aerena).

This time around, the game seems to focus on a small group of mercenaries going on a road trip through a jungle. The setup is that it is 20 years after the events of Jagged Alliance 2. The map recalls the island of Minerva in Jagged Alliance 1, and the premise is very The Expendables. This is an intriguing setup, even though it sounds like it removes some core things like squad management. The art direction is going to be hit or miss for most. Rage forfeits realism and goes for a more cartoony look but it might be something that one can get used to. I don’t think this will scratch the itch for those who are waiting for a Jagged Alliance remake that tries to simulate some measures of realism though. From the trailer, the gameplay looks alright, both familiar and off. A road trip with some buddies sounds like you will be limited to just one squad but it is something I can get behind if they maintain the unique flavour of what made the original Jagged Alliance games so good.

In the two videos I have found, the mercs are voice acted and the game at least tries to bring personality to them. How effective it is we will have to see once the game is available. I was a bit concerned that the game will feature a very limited roster of our favorite mercenaries. With each new piece released, the roster grows a little despite the company not updating their website. On the official website, they list fan favourites Ivan, Shadow, and Raven. In the released videos, I also spotted Vicki, Grunty, Dr. Q, and Fidel. It is a decent start and here is hoping that it includes more.

The game also introduces a new mechanic, Rage, which acts as a sort of limit break. The mercenaries accumulate Rage points and once they have enough, they can spend them to use their super abilities. A PCGamesn article goes more in-depth into how this works. Some of these abilities even interfere with each mercenary’s faults. With age comes fragility I suppose. This kind of system could work well, where every encounter needs to be weighed against the status of your mercenaries. Darkest Dungeon does something similar, for example, and it added depth and planning. With a limited mercenary pool, it might become more of a burden than a nice little feature.

Alec Meer over at RPS said it doesn’t suck, but needs a hefty dose of polish. The game was supposed to be released earlier, but was delayed, hopefully adding that polish that was missing. Writing Bull on YouTube has a let’s play series on it already (in German) and the game looks…OK. There is some Jagged Alliance there, but it also looks like a mobile game UI. Inventory management looks as annoying as Jagged Alliance 2’s, so it is sticking to its source material in some ways at least.

I have said that I will no longer look forward to another Jagged Alliance remake, since so many of them have missed the mark. I might have to take that back, as Rage is working for me. I am still hesitant because the game won’t have a large roster, it looks simpler, and although I am not sure how the campaign will go, the map in the screenshots looks a lot more linear than the open world of Jagged Alliance 2.

Hopefully it is not too much like The Expendables.

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