Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
Review by Al Giovetti
Genre: strategy (squad level combat)
Release: September 12, 1996
Developer: Sirtech Software
Programmer: Ian Currie and Alex Meduna
Music: Steve Wener and Guido Henkel
Art: Jen Hamilton
Producer: Ian Currie
Publisher: Sirtech Software
Requirements: 486 DX, 33 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 15 MB free hard disk space, 2X CD ROMdrive, mouse, DOS 5.0, sound card
Company line: Deadly Games is the eagerly awaited sequel to the award-winning strategy game Jagged Alliance - 1995 Game of the Year (Power Play Magazine, Germany). Deadly Games is a multi-player strategy game playable by one to four players. Its revolutionary game design incorporates over 6,000 lines of spoken dialog, 70 mercenaries each with their own unique personality, all new dynamic missions plus a fully featured scenario editor amounting to unparalleled variety and re-playability. A first for any computer game is the inclusion of a 'bonus' additional multi-player CD which gives a second player access to Deadly Games full speech, sound effects and graphics.
In Jagged Alliance, a bunch of quirky and unpredictable mercenaries taught you a thing about attitude. In Deadly Games, they're all back, joined by new mercenaries, and they have more attitude than ever. Upholding the ground-breaking standard for character and personality set in Jagged Alliance, Deadly Games takes it to a whole new dimension.
The intense challenge of single- and multi-player tactical combat gets personal in Deadly Games. Featuring a unique new approach, Deadly Games offers completely flexible gameplay. Whether it be single- or multi-player, Campaign Play or Single Scenarios, each battle promises to be packed with action, loaded with personality, and jammed with excitement.
To top it off, Deadly Games features new deadly weapons to take on tougher opponents (like your friends), and single-player battles against up to 32 computer enemies. Offering intense excitement against superb computer AI and gameplay against crafty, unpredictable live opponents, Deadly Games is one of the most creative, flexible gaming environments around.
And if you think we can come up with nasty missions, just think what you can do with the built-in Scenario and Campaign Editors! Create custom battles and missions, share them with your friends and enemies, but above all, remember . . . This time it's personal!
History: IN 1995, Sirtech released the first third person, top down perspective, phased turn-based squad level combat game in the Jagged Alliance series. At the time they hoped but did not know it was first, but then it started selling and winning awards and critical acclaim. Well the rest is history and now many people want to get their wish list of goodies fullfilled in this next game.
Plot: In JAGGED ALLIANCE, you control a group of mercenaries hired by scientists to wrest control of a tropical island away from Lucas Santino. Santino wants the rare plants on the island for his own nefarious purposes, and it's your job to see he doesn't get them. Arm your mercs with guns, explosives, and high-tech gear, and send them into the jungle to win back the island, sector-by-sector.
Game Play: Non-linear game play. How each game unfolds depends entirely on the gamer. Go straight for the enemy's throat, or crush him slowly. 60 mercenaries to choose from, each with their own attitude and voice. Some of the mercenaries have strange quirks. Others are just plain strange. 60 diverse playing fields filled with heart-stopping missions deep in enemy territory. Each of your mercenaries has a distinctive personality, skills, and voice. Mercenaries improve as they gain experience—unless they are wounded, or freak out under the strain!
It's been a long day. Three of your best mercenaries are in the infirmary with shotgun wounds, and the medic is threatening to quit if the casualties continue. The workers are demanding more money, and an informer tells you that one of your mercenaries is about to snap. Still, you won three sectors away from the heavily armed enemy, and the medicinal sap you sold brought in a nice chunk of change. That's just an ordinary day at the office in JAGGED ALLIANCE, Sirtech's award-winning blend of strategy, tactics, and role-playing.
Seventy mercenaries, 60 old favorites and 10 new ones, all with different personalities and statistics to fit special mission goals. Each mercenary has an unforgettable personality that had better be considered or the job might not get done. The best generals are not the ones that know what orders to give, but what their men will do when given those orders.
To make the game more difficult in the scenario, there will be no healing back at the base. There are also no campfire talks at night like you see in many role playing games. People feel this gives the game some grit and realism, but I still miss the ministrations and marsh melons.
Many of the older characters have now become familiar for a variety of reasons. Each man has a trait including trigger happy, forgetful, and other artificial intelligence that changed the nuances of play and due to personality became like old friends. The new crew have their own new situations that have been designed based upon the best reactions to the old crew. Malice, Hamous, Mouse, Postie, Nails, Scope, loose-lipped Roachburn, Dino, Buzz, and Spam all have their own little quirks for you to discover.
You can heal with the medic, fix items with a mechanic, hire, fire and train mercenaries, and shop for better equipment between missions.
Weapons: Now you have more than the original games' 60 weapons. Weapons can be purchased from the local arms merchant this time around. Arms bunkers will have weapons to sell. The money will now become a factor in choosing a correct weapon and equipment balance.
Combat: Intense turn-based combat allows the gamer to plan every action.
Combat pits you against up to 32 computer controlled artificial intelligence in single player mode. Rounded, phased or turn-based combat is the order of the day with a certain number of points to divide between movement and weapons fire, like the original game and X-COM. Turn based combat has the advantage of being more a thinking game rather than a twitch game. Deliberate coordinated movement from a squad of men is more effective and realistic than running helter skelter everywhere and shooting everything.
Modes: In addition to the multi-player options, there are single player campaigns. A tutorial campaign makes learning the game easier for new and forgetful players.
Missions and Campaigns: All the campaign missions are limited to the number of terns.
Difficulty: Three exciting levels of play. The difficulty option affects the size of the enemy's army, their aggressiveness, and their cunning.
Interface is primarily top down perspective with square movement spaces. At the top of the screen are menu bars, and at the bottom are weapons boxes, but basically you can move your team with the mouse or keyboard hot keys and you are moving, crouching, observing, shooting, and other movements to keep the battle moving right along. Very similar to other squad based games such as X-Com.
Graphics: New three dimensional rendered scenes, new items, terrain, buildings, and hiding places. The two dimensional artists created tiles and objects to give the game added depth and variety. The graphics are VGA and not SVGA but the game play makes up for the lack of graphics. New terrain has been added but this really does not improve the graphics significantly.
Animation: Over 2,000 frames of detailed overhead animation bring mercenaries to life with fluid motion.
Voice actors: Over 6,000 lines of digitized speech gives a unique personality to each of the 70 mercenaries of the game and drama to the presentation. The voice actors are the same ones used in the original Jagged Alliance game keeping the continuity of accent and performance and providing recognition of the prior voices. The Russian voice for Ivan, the sultry voice for Fox, the valley voice of Sparky, and the French Canadian voice for Mailice are all back to annoy or delight.
Sound effects: Spectacular digitized sound effects throughout the game.
Editor: The scenario and campaign editor provides infinite replayability within the limits and confines of the game parameters. Hundreds of tiles, weapons, and terrain textures gives you the variety to help create new missions scenarios and campaigns. Easy to use point and click editor. Just click on the water and then move the mouse click again and move the mouse and create an area of terrain. Just pick up and put down weapons and terrain from hundreds of icons. Once put together, scenarios are shared with friends over the internet or sneaker net.
Multi-player: The game supports network and null and phone modem play. Up to four players over a network and two players over null and phone modem allow for head to head combat. There does not appear to be any cooperative modem multi-player features against the artificial intelligence of the computer. A series of linked missions can be played in multiplayer mode. Ten internet network has multiplayer matches on its site. An extra CD will be provided, gratis, for one of your friends to play with you over the network, phone modem, or null modem.
Conclusion: There is a new editor, new cinematic sequences, a weapons store, and ten new mercenaries in this upgrade and scenario disk. There is not a lot new in game play or other features. If you loved the first game and you want to expand the experience this may be for you.
Hints: Be careful not to ignore the seeming detritus that litters the ground. Combining a common pipe with another weapon, such as a shotgun or automatic, turns it into a super gun with more firepower and accuracy. Save these pipes for the more powerful weapons.
Also you can combine the jars with gasoline and a rag to form a Molitov cocktail.
Strategy Plus, co-winner, Turn-Based Strategy Game of the Year, January, 1996
PC Entertainment, Best Strategy Game of 1995, January, 1996
PC Gamer Editor's Choice, July 1995
Multimedia World All Star, August 1995
Power Play Magazine Award(Germany), June 1995
Hot Topic of May 1995, CompuServe's Gamers' Forum
Internet's Top 100 Games, 9 Months Running
Ranked #4 in Computer Gaming World Magazine's Top 100, August 1995
Charted in Top 10 of Computer Gaming World Magazine's Top 100 Games, 3 Months Running
Computer Gaming World Magazine's Playing Lately Top 10, 5 Months Running
Computer Gaming World, "A Must Buy"
PC Gamer , "A Terrific Game"
Electronic Entertainment, "...You'll Love This Game."
Multimedia World, "...Jagged Alliance is thoroughly addictive."
PC Magazine, "...one of the most enjoyably addictive games to hit the shelves in a long, long time."
Ron Dulin, http://www.gamespot.com/strategy/deadlyga/, (76%).
Kevin J. McCann, Computer Player, volume 3, number 7, December, 1996, pg. 92, (90%).
Peter Olafson, PC Games, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, pg. 169, 88%.