If Sylvester Stallone made turn-based strategy games, they would look like this. Having missed the original Jagged Alliance back in the 90’s this was a first in this series for me. Jagged Alliance: Rage! is a turn-based strategy game in the same vein as the XCOM series. This version is ported from PC by the developer Cliffhanger Productions and they’ve done a decent job of it. You command a bunch of mercenaries with the mission of taking down a clichéd bad guy on a tropical island. The storyline itself does not blow your mind and is linear and predictable, coupled with a poor script and voice acting, which makes my teeth itch, it could be a reason to avoid this game.
However, it is not all bad. At the start of the game, you’re given a choice of selecting two mercenaries from a roster of six, each one with its pros and cons. This I really liked as it felt that your initial choices heavily impacted on how you play the game, such as Ivan, a strong “Russian” raging alcoholic with bad knees. He requires alcohol to perform optimally and can’t jump without knackering his brittle bird like knees, but given the right circumstance he can rock the proverbial excrement. Not incredibly politically correct, but it means your choices affect your playstyles such as inventory management, stealth play and weapon choices. The descriptions of each character will provide you with some clues but personally, I liked playing a few missions with each character to find my groove.
Watch the Jagged Alliance: Rage! launch trailer below:
Combat is actually pretty brutal and can punish you for silly mistakes, in my opinion, stealth was a must and gave me the advantage I needed at the start, take a few guys down by stealth with an overwatch option on. Meant that if I was caught in the open with my pants down I at least had a chance to get to cover before being pummelled. Difficulty can be changed and makes it very accessible for casual gamers to jump in for an hour or so or hardcore gamers to kill a full day. The combat is relatively quick despite being turn-based, the AI turns can go on a bit long though but that’s part and parcel of these type of games.
The combat wheel is a nice touch and despite being ported from PC it wasn’t too clunky to use. Using it to select a number of combat abilities and movement, with a percentage chance of hit abilities etc. being given with each option it easy to use and straightforward but I did find selecting points to move characters to a bit of a pain, but that’s just me unfairly comparing it to XCOM.
Missions themselves are all quite straightforward, get to point A, kill bad guys, loot bad guys rinse and repeat. Looting itself is a core and vital part of the game and survival, loot everybody as you will need water, bandages, alcohol, first aid kits etc. to keep your team alive. Staving off dehydration, exhaustion and infection is a core part and you will need to keep an eye on them to make sure they are top of their game; some characters are weaker to certain issues than others so choose wisely.
Graphics-wise, it’s not going rock your world but it is quirky and colourful in a weird way. The sound and music itself is decent enough but the repetition and clichéd voice acting of the NPC’s can make you want to remove your ears or watch Expendables, depending on what floats your boat. A bit of a gripe was the loading times between levels and when selecting a saved game, not a big negative, but enough to get on my nerves.
All in all, it was a decent enough game, a bit of a poor mans XCOM. I went in with extremely low expectations if I am being honest, I’m a big fan of the XCOM games and turn-based games in general and saw this as a bit of a poor relation but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it actually is. It’s tough but in a fair way and will consume hours of gaming time in a fun way, I didn’t have the opportunity to play the co-op option but I would imagine it would only improve the enjoyment and extend its replayability. If turn-based strategy, is your thing then maybe give it a whirl, especially if you can get it on sale, as I would say at full price it would be a bit steep.
You can view some more screenshots in our gallery below:
Jagged Alliance: Rage! was reviewed using a digital code supplied by the publisher.
Publisher: HandyGames Developer: Cliffhanger Productions Release Date: 6th December, 2018 Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC/Steam, PS4