Monday, 21 January 2013

Review: Jagged Alliance Crossfire

Jagged Alliance: Crossfire (JA:C) is a standalone spin-off of Jagged Alliance: Back In Action (JA:BiA), itself an updated reboot of Jagged Alliance 2. JA:C features a new setting, with an all new power stuggle over the fate of a small nation. Players, as usual for the Jagged Alliance series, take command over a small team of mercenaries whose job is to remove a despot from power, for the right amount of money of course.

JA:C takes place in Khanpaa, a small mountainous country, that has been ravaged by civil unrest. Religious and political turmoil has born a broken society and a country ripe for mercenaries to ply their trade. As a mercenary commander, the player is hired to cleanse the countryside of hostile forces and to unseat the local despot from power. Players are given a mission briefing and a wad of cash to start their campaign.

The game starts with players hiring their mercenary team. Each mercenary comes with a price, equipment and personality. Generally, a more expensive mercenary is better trained and comes with advanced starting gear. Players start with limited funds, so choosing an single advanced merc over a small team will need to be considered. As with all Jagged Alliance games, mercs gain experience and skill in the field, and optional mercenaries may join you during the game. Having a balanced mercenary team, with good equipment, opens the path to easy victories.

Gameplay consists of conducting you mercenaries from a top down local map viewpoint. A large overland map is also used to move you mercenaries from area to area. During skirmishes, players direct their mercenary unit into position, hopefully using careful planning and tactics, to rain death onto your enemies. Ambushing, stealth, explosives, night attacks, defensive firing lines and running away are just a few strategies you will probably encounter when playing the game. JA:C uses JA:BiA's real-time and pause "plan and go" system, which allows players to micromanage their mercenaries actions.


My playthrough consisted of a women only "Amazon" party, built to avoid personality conflicts and to improve morale - no lesbo. I found the game to be quite fun as the team sniped and blasted its way through the country side, towns and foes. An added strategical burden was keeping my weapons repaired, as there are few female mercenaries with mechanical ability, no relatively cheap ones anyway. Nevertheless, the further my team pushed into the country the harder the combat became, forcing me to gopher medical and ammunition supplies to the front lines from the secured rear. I was probably advancing too fast for my supplies to keep up.

JA:C is a pretty decent strategy game, but unfortunately it does come with its fair share of bugs. Some engine bugs, left over from JA:BiA, are still present and you'll probably come across a few that nobody else has ever seen before. PC gaming and bugs go hand-in-hand, and some bugs can be overlooked if they don't ruin the overall experience. I think, generally speaking, that the bugs in JA:C aren't show stoppers, but are just generally annoying. If you hate bugs than there is a good chance you'll hate JA:C.

If you love strategy, and can forgive a handful of annoying bugs, I think you can have a wonderful time with this game. It isn't a classic like Jagged Alliance 2, but it's a pretty decent spin-off from the original game.


Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year, Update and New Reviews

Happy New Year! 2013, and all of us Mayan apocalypse survivors, does life get any better? I hope everyone had fun, partied and consumed a moderate amount of alcohol. A new year mean new games and technology, which means more things to blog about, so keep tuned in via twitter, facebook or subscribe through blogger.

Since mid December, a number of sites around the internet have been featuring sales. Steam, GoG and Greenman Gaming are a few online retailers featuring discounts on digital downloads and publisher bundles. This year, during the Steam Summer Sales, I'll try to post a day-to-day blog entry and give a mini-review and rating on the best deals. Readers may also comment below the entry if they have an alternate opinion or mini-review..

Speaking of Steam, the current sale is remarkably conservative compared to last year's, and I hope Steam returns to a more adventurous and fun Winter Sale in 2013. In contrast to Steam, GoG has been having a blinding sale season with great deals and genuine festivity. Did everyone get their free copy of Duke3D:Atomic Edition? Thank you, GoG.

Finally, a small list of upcoming gaming and tech releases in 2013:
  • Steam Box, Valve's console offering. Looking to capitalize in an uncertain market, the Steam Box is slated for a Q1 2013 release.
  • Bioshock Infinite - to boob, or not to boob: that is the question. Will it live up to its "shock" series predecessors?
  • A series of Kickstarters should come to fruition, including Anita Sarkessian's Tropes series.
  • Company of Heroes 2, Aliens: Colonial Marine and much more.

Cheers to you and goodbye, 2012.