If you're a big fan, I'll watch your review ricrunes. I played the demo last night... my first feeling was that's not Lynx! That's not Fidel! Then I got them shot to peices while I watched.
I never realized how important deciding between 9 action points and 10 was when firing a shot for me. With that missing, I feel like I'm watching, rather than being each guy. To be fair, I was tired and fell asleep after failing the first mission and running back to the tutorial. I'll give it another shot, (having done the tutorial) because I desperately want to love like it.
Well not a review "per-se" (since I'm not a reviewer) but since you asked here's my personal oppinion ("pseudo-mini-review"):
Now that I played this Jagged Alliance - Back in Action game a bit more I think I'm now a little bit more "qualified" to give a "first inside" regarding this game:
- While Jagged Alliance - Back in Action seems to be and has the potential to be a great game I still think that the good old (AWESOME to be more precise) Jagged Alliance 2 is still in overall terms a better game. But again if this Jagged Alliance - Back in Action gets more polished or improved it probably has the capability to become a classic just like its predecessors are. Here's my oppinions regarding Jagged Alliance - Back in Action sometimes mixed with a comparison with Jagged Alliance 2:
- The 3D gameplay:
Most of the or the main criticism regarding this Jagged Alliance - Back in Action seems to come to the fact that this game is no longer played in turn based but IMO this isn't where Jagged Alliance - Back in Action loses compared to Jagged Alliance 2 and I honestly I even prefer the current system that Jagged Alliance - Back in Action offers! Jagged Alliance - Back in Action offers a real time gameplay in which the player can set in the options menu several situations where the game will or could automatically pause (just like happens in UFO Aftershock/Afterlight/After_etc... games) so everytime that something new happens like for example an enemy soldier is spotted or one of our mercs gets shot than the game can automatically pause (again if the player defines it in the options menu) allowing the player to have enough time to define a new strategy at his/hers will. But the best feature of all in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action is the new Command/tactical planning option that the player can access to by pressing the "Space Bar" key where the player can define a strategy/plan like for example having one merc flanking an enemy soldier(s) to the left and another one flanking to the right and others advancing directly towards the enemy and also in this planning it's possible to set a fire order (and the number of bullets/bursts fired for each fire command) for each merc on the team and then syncronize all those firing commands
so that all mercs (or the ones ordered to open fire) will open fire at the exact same time (they will only fire when all mercs are in position!). After making the plan press "Space Bar" again and you will see your mercs doing what you planned in real time and of course you can always change this plan everytime you want (everytime the "Space bar" is pressed). This excelent feature is IMO an excelent replacement to the old turn base system. So and because of this great system I don't miss turn base that much and IMO the lack of turn based gameplay is NOT something that I complain about in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action.
Don't get me wrong, I do like the previous turn based system that was present in JA1 and JA2 (which BTW, was alredy mixed with a real time system when no enemy soldiers were seen or present) but the problem is that IMO and in my experience those turn base systems sometimes cheat a lot, specially in "time interrupt" situations like for example: I remember that in one situation I was moving a merc in stealth mode (this merc was "Shadow" which if I'm not mistaken was one of the best mercs in terms of stealth movements in JA2) inside a house in order to surprise an enemy soldiers that was staring and sometimes shooting from one of that house window - And I really did surprise and caught that enemy soldier with his back turned to my merc BUT then sudently (the game at the time was moving in real time since no enemy soldier was visible at that time) the game instead of giving me the chance to shoot at the enemy soldier's back a "time interrupt" kicked in and that enemy soldier shot and killed my merc in an impossible way since in "real life" the time that it took that enemy soldier to turn towards my merc it would be more than enough to put at least 2 or 3 (or even more) rounds at that enemy soldier (and even more considering that it was a very experienced merc) - I remember that particular situation annoyed me so much that I even punched hard my keyboard with my fist!! This is of course "only" one situation but it's a situation that is very common and happens very frequently with "turn based" games, a thing that doesn't happen in real time games since the trend is that you get exactly what happens or should happen in reality.
But where I COMPLAIN a LOT in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action is the enemy AI which is not all that great: From my experiences so far the tactics of the enemy AI in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action seem to only consist in the following: When enemy soldiers detects any player merc those enemy soldiers seem to advance directly towards the player's mercs until they reache an optimal range to fire their weapons - and thats it! I haven't seen any flanking manouvers from those enemy AIs. As far as I remember the AIs in Jagged Alliance 2 also didn't flank that frequently but nevertheless they sometimes did flank the player's mercs (specially in "urban" areas) but again in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action I've seen none of this.FOG OF WAR:
This is definitly and IMO the worse feature of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action compared to JA2!! There is simply NO FOG OF WAR
present in the game!!!! This is a VERY ODD and STRANGE decision and I say "decision" because everything seems to be "in place" withing the game's capability in order to have a fog of war present! For example your mercs will call out "enemy spotted" if they find (with their eyes) an enemy soldier (and the game will autopause if the according option is selected) and enemy AI soldiers also have a field of view arc (in front of them) and hearing capability and will act against the player's mercs in case any of them are spotted/detected (either by vision of hearing). So the only thing that the devs of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action must have done in order to have a Fog of War modeled in the game was simply TO HIDE
from the player the enemy soldiers that aren't seen by any of the player's mercs or at least make this a selectable option on the options menu!
This makes the game in most situations all "too easy"!
- Militia training/recruiting:
An another area where I think that Jagged Alliance - Back in Action "falls short" compared to JA2 is the (allied) Militia training/recruiting which is definitly one of the "trademarks" of Jagged Alliance 1 and 2 classics. In both JA1 and JA2 you needed to train your militia in order to help you defending the sectors that your team of mercs already conquered. This is specially in the case of JA2 where it was required or advised to have merc or mercs that were good in training skills so that the militias got the best and the fastest training possible and in JA2 the militia also evolved (don't remember if this was also the case in JA1) -> A good training could evolve your militias from "green" to "regular" and after some combat experience some militias could also evolve to "ELITE" status.
So how does this work in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action? The good news is that Militias are still present in this latest game but the bad news is that you DON'T actually TRAIN the militias - What happens in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action is that per each town/mining sector/etc... there is maximum possible militias that can be "recruited" (I think this number can or could incress if you gain more popular support in the sector but I'm not sure) so how are those militias "trained"? Simple: When you are in the 3D map of the sector where you wish to recruit the militias (this is done in 3D map where in JA2 this was done in the 2D map) you will see some civilians that have an icon with a hand/fist above them - When you see one of those civilians you go talk to him and a trade inventory window will pop up and if you give a weapon to that civilian that same civilian INSTANTLY become a militia and that's it! "Obviously" the better weapon that you give to that civilian/militia the better he will be - For example I gave a .38 revolver to one civilian and he became a "level 1" militia. I imagine (haven't tried it yet) that if I give for example a SCAR rifle to a militia he/she will have a better level. Honestly the JA2 militia system was IMO much better! But I think the combinations of both systems (JA2 with Jagged Alliance - Back in Action) regarding militias would be the best since it would combine the interesting and detailed militia training of JA2 with the ability to improve/update each militia man weaponry.
- Storyline and strategic map:
The story of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action is essencially a clone of JA2 with some simplified features. IMO this is an another point where Jagged Alliance - Back in Action loses against JA2. I believe that if the story of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action was diferent even if based on the exact same system that it would be better for the latest game since comparisons are and will be inevitable (specially since both are based on the exact same story) and the story/strategic map is much more detailed in JA2 that it is in the latest game. Again IMO, I would place the action of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action in some imaginary African country with a diferent map, caracters (for non-AIM mercs that is) and setting.
An example of this "simplification" is for example that your team starts directly attacking the airport on Drassen where most of the enemies are only equiped with melee weapons (knifes, hammers, shovels, etc...) and only a very few of them have "low powered" pistols (mainly .38 revolvers) and in comparison in JA2 the player would or should first contact the resistance (while in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action this is done quite after you conquer the airport) and then fight your way towards the Drassen Airport which was itself well defenced (as opposed to what happens now).
Another let down is "Skyraider" - the helicopter pilot caracter which despite being also present in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action but in this game he wont give your team lifts (insertion/extrations) in his helicopter (in order to move faster in the 2D map). In Jagged Alliance - Back in Action, the Skyrider caracter (which is present somewhere in Drassen airport) only seems to offer you a deal: Find some diamonds that are stashed away in his helicopter that was shot down somewhere near Cambria - After you manage to find and retrieve those diamonds they will suposedly be divided in half (50/50) between your team and the Skyrider caracter.
The Map in Jagged Alliance - Back in Action despite being a clone of JA2 map (it's Arulco after all!) seems to be somehow smaller/more compact than the JA2 map. It also seems to have some mines and other objectives (like water towers) that either weren't present in JA2 (like for example a mine near Cambria) or are present in diferent locations.
In Jagged Alliance - Back in Action I haven't found or encountered enemy patrols in the wilderness (like frequently happened in JA2) but enemy patrol do travel by road and attack your conquered towns/sectors and therefore militias are important as they were in JA1 and JA2 which is of course a good news!
I wont say much regarding graphics since this Jagged Alliance - Back in Action has obviously much better graphics than JA2 for the obvious reasons and what I will say is that I find the graphics of Jagged Alliance - Back in Action quite beautifull and doesn't seem to demand that much from the hardware (I have a 2 year old, perhaps a little bit more system/PC).
Well, this post took longer than expected but I hope that it helps you to get a better inside (at least in my perspective) regarding Jagged Alliance - Back in Action.