Jagged Alliance Deadly Games

10In Jagged Alliance, you gathered a team of mercenaries, each with their own inimitable personalities, and set out to clear the island of Santino’s minions, and make the world safe for magic tree sap (honest!). What set it apart from many games, though, was how well the rather improbable story interacted with an excellent tactical engine and a sophisticated and engrossing role-playing shell, where your mercenaries gained experience, found guns and engaged in turn-based battles.

Deadly Games keeps the original Jagged Alliance engine, VGA graphics and all, virtually unchanged, but with many desirable enhancements and a few less desirable features that have proven somewhat controversial. Deadly Games finally brings multiplayer capabilities to light, and adds a scenario editor and many new terrain sets as well. There is also a new if very different solo campaign, where you can try out the ten new mercenaries who join the original sixty for this round, and use an assortment of new weapons like the grenade launcher and the mortar.

12Not everything is perfect. Devotees of the Metaviran madness might find the included campaign a little dry. In my run-through, it lasted 34 missions, though because of some conditional branching your mileage could vary. Missions are linked through the comments of your boss, Gus Tarballs, a drill sergeant type complete with chomped-upon cigar whose favorite word is “horsecrap.” Gus is a hoot, and his pre- and post-mission commentary ties the game together. This is, however, a far cry from the original game’s more free-form setting.

While there are a few branches your missions can take, by and large you can’t afford to lose any to find out, given how tight money is. You are paid for every successful mission, but not for failures; with payrolls equaling or exceeding mission payoffs, avoiding Chapter 11 is tough. More importantly, there really isn’t much sense of adventure or purpose in the solo campaign. It’s fun, make no mistake, but it isn’t very immersive. You really don’t care, in the end, about your foes, or about anything much more than getting out alive. Unlike the original, in Deadly Games you don’t call your own shots, or set your own pace. Each mission has turn limits, and you are forced to hurry up and die to get the mission done.

Despite all of this, Sirtech has done a first-rate job here. As it is, the solo campaign really grows on you; soon you’ll be sweating out the fates of your team members, much like in the old days. Multiplay is a blast; each merc has an assortment of taunts and comments, ranging from the rude to the erudite to the incoherent. The combat is still very enjoyable and is sure to be enjoyable to players of the original game.

System Requirements: 486/33 Mhz, 4 MB RAM, 15 MB HDD, DOS

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