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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: Jagged Alliance: Back in Action - Review

Default RPGWatch Feature: Jagged Alliance: Back in Action - Review

July 25th, 2013, 04:31
We've sunk many hours into bitComposer's and Coreplay's squad tactics & RPG mix. Here's a brief excerpt from our review:

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action's release was accompanied by a lot of emotions. The JA community was stunned by a variation of the standard real-time with pause combat and the game's generally more mainstream direction.
Since then publisher bitComposer and developer Coreplay added some key features requested by the community, most importantly optional fog of war, a sector inventory and a high difficulty level, and polished things up quite a bit with dozens of small improvements […]
To read the rest please click on the link to article.

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July 25th, 2013, 04:31
Thanks for the review . I agree, JA BiA is a different beast after all the patches and I found it to be fairly enjoyable.

Steam claims I logged 66 hours of play, though I probably have a fair amount of that spent on pause while I went afk to do stuff. I probably actually played 50 hours, but didn't make it through to the end. For some reason I put it aside without finishing it, but just can't really seem to be bothered going back.

Still, the 50 hours or so of gameplay were well worth the price I paid.
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July 25th, 2013, 08:17
When was the last patch? This review seems like it's months late. Pretty sure I played it fully patched and felt like it could use more patching.

The main issue to me is that the game is horribly balanced (game starts off fun but eventually gets ludicrous in difficulty and limits your strategy, if you can call it strategy), the AI is pretty sad, and it gets old fighting 3rd rate 3rd world sleazeballs who somehow have accuracy that would put Olympic shooters to shame.

I played it enough to justify my purchase and could see replaying it again some day with one of the mods that changes how borked it flows.

Ultimately I think it could have been a solid game if it had been finished or patched a bit more. Sucks when devs make something that's almost there and leave it hanging. I could care less about modding but sometimes they can help these types of games, but even so, there's only so much modders can do without being able to rewrite/tweak core game code.

I'd love to see a JA game done with the XCOM:EU tactical engine and without so much of the console first design lameness. Actually, I'd like to see more XCOM:EU bits using the tactical engine with less overall suck, or any squad based setup using that engine. The tactical in XCOM:EU is slick but the linear story, lack of randomly created maps, and mediocre strategic layer somewhat kill replayability for that game.
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July 25th, 2013, 08:34
The cons are too bad for me.

Why should I play JA:BiA, when the Jagged Alliance 2 version 1.13 overhaul is so much better?

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Last edited by HiddenX; July 25th, 2013 at 10:11.
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July 25th, 2013, 09:37
Hmmm, I wasn't really interested after the anoucement of them going RTWP (although I'm not a RTWP hater - but Jagged Alliance, FFS?), but I guess based on the review it's something I could pick up on a sale.
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July 25th, 2013, 10:00
Big thnx for the review with the latest patch. Gonne replay it soon again after reading this.
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July 25th, 2013, 11:37
How is RTwP for casuals? When I first encountered it in BG I thought it should be a standard for most games. I dont like full RT as I'm at best mediocre in twitch or reflex games. I'm fine with turn-based but why would I need to tell my archer to shoot at one guy repeatedly each turn until he dies? I'd much rather give one command, go real time, then pause again to adapt to changes in the combat situation
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July 25th, 2013, 11:40
Yes, I agree. RTwP gives me the option to speed through easy fights and slow down during more challenging ones. I like that.
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July 25th, 2013, 11:48
I don't think it's "bad" either, it can work quite well and be fun. In almost all cases it comes at the price of a loss of control compared to full TB, however. Point is, Jagged Alliance series (next to Xcom, I guess) is THE posterchild of TB tactical squad combat - so to make it anything else was absolutely guaranteed to result in the mentioned shitstorm.
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July 25th, 2013, 13:12
Originally Posted by Voqar View Post
When was the last patch? This review seems like it's months late. Pretty sure I played it fully patched and felt like it could use more patching.
I'm a bit short of time, so I haven't read the rest of your post yet.

The patch isn't new. It came out last year. Late Q3 I think.

I wasn't sure if I should give it a 3 or a 4, but then I thought I've played it for 80 hours, half of it without the interface improvements, and I still had fun most of the time. So I would have considered it unfair to give only a 3. But YMMV.

In some way JA:BiA is a one trick pony. It's about Plan&Go.
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July 25th, 2013, 13:59
I skipped the game due to the lack of turn-based combat, and the fact it was just a re-hash of JA2 which I already played 15 years ago, as opposed to some new story (even though story is hardly the main focus of these games). Might give it a try, though, based on that review.

Any comment on the various DLC that are out and the standalone expansion?
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July 25th, 2013, 14:12
Just a few corrections: You get 7 points per level and there is a shoot until dead, shift- right click.

The biggest problem I have with it is the terrain. It was very painful figuring out which terrain is safe to shoot from behind - the only worthwhile defensive pieces in the game seemed to be the concrete barriers (makes sense) and garden hedges (not so much) everything else was pretty much worthless. If the game was turn based this wouldn't be a problem but real time it was very very frustrating.

The second biggest problem is the money issue. By the mid-game you have more money than you can spend. 200k for clearing a city. 1 million for finding a box of cereal (come on……).

The mechanics are also quite badly explained. I was struggling in the midgame (max difficulty + fog) until i figured out that you shouldn't actually aim in most scenarios as shooting from the hip is far faster until you get weapons like the G11 which fires at an acceptable rate in the crouch position. The sniper mechanics are big crappy with fog turned on as well as it pretty much makes it impossible to get a range shot in unless your using a spotter behind cover as once you have a target you can still keep shooting if you loose sight on them.

Overall I did actually like the game and I would maybe give it a 7/10. It's just sad that with a bit more love and turn based combat it could have been so much better.

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July 25th, 2013, 15:23
Originally Posted by bjon045 View Post
Just a few corrections: You get 7 points per level and there is a shoot until dead, shift- right click.
Thanks. I'll verify this when I get home and then correct the article.

The second biggest problem is the money issue. By the mid-game you have more money than you can spend. 200k for clearing a city. 1 million for finding a box of cereal (come on……).
Yes, there was too much money. But it's like that in most games. Powergamers pick up and sell everything.

The mechanics are also quite badly explained. I was struggling in the midgame (max difficulty + fog) until i figured out that you shouldn't actually aim in most scenarios as shooting from the hip is far faster until you get weapons like the G11 which fires at an acceptable rate in the crouch position. The sniper mechanics are big crappy with fog turned on as well as it pretty much makes it impossible to get a range shot in unless your using a spotter behind cover as once you have a target you can still keep shooting if you loose sight on them.
The latter point is a normal consequence of the fog. If you want fog you have to uncover a target before you can shoot it.

Overall I did actually like the game and I would maybe give it a 7/10. It's just sad that with a bit more love and turn based combat it could have been so much better.
Yeah, 7/10 sounds about right. And they should really have aimed higher.
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July 25th, 2013, 15:24
Originally Posted by Stingray View Post
Any comment on the various DLC that are out and the standalone expansion?
No. But it's also not that important. Just get the whole thing for 10 bucks when it's on sale.
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July 25th, 2013, 15:29
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
I don't think it's "bad" either, it can work quite well and be fun. In almost all cases it comes at the price of a loss of control compared to full TB, however. Point is, Jagged Alliance series (next to Xcom, I guess) is THE posterchild of TB tactical squad combat - so to make it anything else was absolutely guaranteed to result in the mentioned shitstorm.
That's the reason why I mentioned that it's no debacle. Many people simply didn't give it a fair chance because JA must be TB.
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July 25th, 2013, 15:31
Originally Posted by Gorath View Post
That's the reason why I mentioned that it's no debacle. Many people simply didn't give it a fair chance because JA must be TB.
Yes, guilty as charged.
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July 25th, 2013, 16:52
JA2 w/mods is probably my favorite single game ever and I can't imagine how many hours I've spent playing it back in the day. When BIA was announced and then quickly changed to this new system, people wondered who exactly the game was catering to? Turn-based tactical games have a cult following, really, which makes it tough to justify the expense of making one since there just isn't a huge audience willing to buy them. But then bitComposure went and even alienated the cult. Just an utterly baffling move to me. It was almost as if they wanted to make their own game, but also wanted to try and suck in a fanbase to guarantee sales by slapping the Jagged Alliance name on it.

I still haven't played it, which is really too bad since I'd guess there aren't many folks out there who loved the JA franchise as much as I did. If enough patches come out and fix it to the level where old school JA fans are beginning to enjoy it, I may purchase it despite "plan and go" (there were other changes I'm not a fan of, which is also why I haven't tried it). But until then, I'm hanging my hopes on the JA: Flashback kickstarter.
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July 25th, 2013, 18:22
I originally skipped it because it wasnt TB but bought it from steam summer sales and have been playing it for one week one straight now. I like it more than the new xcom. I dont mind that its missing TB. I actually like it better this way.

JA2 was too much of a timesink. It takes forever to play games like this in TB and many people (like me) dont have that time anymore.

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July 26th, 2013, 01:12
I played it a bunch and then just got tired of it and stopped. I am not sure what the problem was but there were a bunch of little niggling things like how fast armor wears out (and can't be repaired!) that just got annoying.

BTW, someone mentioned about not knowing which terrain was "safe". This has ALWAYS been a problem with JA2. I played JA2 1.13 to death (I worked on it for a while) and even after hundreds of hours I still couldn't be sure without using the cover/view thing that was added.
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July 26th, 2013, 07:57
Originally Posted by BillSeurer View Post
BTW, someone mentioned about not knowing which terrain was "safe". This has ALWAYS been a problem with JA2. I played JA2 1.13 to death (I worked on it for a while) and even after hundreds of hours I still couldn't be sure without using the cover/view thing that was added.
Fair enough, I guess I found the problem more pronounced due to the real-time + no hexs - in BiA one pixel in a certain direction might be safe or dangerous and certain objects cannot be shot through while other can. Trees were pretty good to hide behind in JA2 while in BiA they are worthless.

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