Jagged Alliance 2

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Jagged Alliance 2
Jagged Alliance 2 Coverart.png
Cover art
Developer(s) Sir-Tech Canada
Publisher(s) TalonSoft (Microsoft Windows)
Titan Computer (Linux)
Series Jagged Alliance
Platform(s) AmigaOS, Linux, Microsoft Windows
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Tactical role-playing game,[2] turn-based tactics
Mode(s) Single-player

Jagged Alliance 2 is a tactical role-playing game for PC,[2] released in 1999 for Windows, and later ported to Linux by Tribsoft. It is the third game in the Jagged Alliance series, and was followed by the expansion Unfinished Business in 2000. Two commercial releases of the mod Wildfire (2004) are also available as official expansion packs. Jagged Alliance 2 and the Unfinished Business expansion were combined in the Jagged Alliance 2 Gold Pack, released on August 6, 2002.[3]

The game takes place in the fictional country of Arulco, which has been ruled by a ruthless monarch Deidranna for several years. The player is put in control of several hired mercenaries and with aid of local citizens and militia must reclaim Arulco's cities and ultimately defeat Deidranna.

The game uses a strategic map screen of Arulco where player may issue high level strategic orders for their troops, such as travelling or prolonged training. Combat and individual location exploration takes place in tactical screen, where player can issue individual direct commands to their mercenaries, such as run, shoot, talk and so on. The game features a wide variety of guns, armour and items that the player may use.

The game received positive scores from reviewers. It was praised for its freedom of action, memorable characters and non-linear and tactical gameplay.

Plot[edit]

Jagged Alliance 2 takes place in the fictional nation of Arulco, ruled until the late 1980s by a unique democratic monarchy – a monarch led the nation, but elections were held every ten years to assert their legitimacy.[4] In 1988, election candidate Enrico Chivaldori took a wife, Deidranna Reitman of Romania, in order to boost his popularity and consequently was victorious.[5][6] However, Deidranna proved to be far more than a simple pawn; showing an unquenchable thirst for power, she soon framed Chivaldori for the murder of his father.[7] Enrico managed to escape, faking his own death.[8][9] Removing all other obstacles from her way, she soon consolidated her power and converted Arulco into an authoritarian state.[10]

When the game begins, Chivaldori has hired the player to remove Deidranna by whatever means necessary. He puts the player and his team of mercenaries in contact with a rebel movement in the northern town of Omerta.[11][12] Omerta suffered a massive raid shortly before the events of the game, leaving the town damaged and nearly deserted.[13][14][15] The rebel leader Miguel Cordona, former election candidate and opponent of Enrico,[16] guides the player to the city of Drassen.[17][18]

The game also features a sci-fi mode that introduces enemies not present in realistic mode – the "Crepitus", a species of giant insect living underground, infesting mines and occasionally emerging to the surface.[19]

Gameplay[edit]

The game puts the player in control of several mercenaries that must explore and reclaim towns and territories from enemy forces. As the game advances, the player can hire new mercenaries and acquire better weapons and armour to combat opponents. The game utilizes a map screen to show the map of Arulco and issue high-level orders to the troops. There is also a tactical screen, where the player takes control of individual mercenaries during real-time interactions and turn-based combat.

Map screen[edit]

The map screen displays the world map of Arulco in a square grid (called sectors) and the forces deployed by the enemy and the player.[20] This is the strategic side of the game, as the player directs his forces, and controls the progress of time, which may be sped up or paused.

From here, the player can also access the game's laptop function, allowing the player to receive emails from characters in the game, buy weapons and equipment, and hire and fire mercenaries.[21]

This screen is also used to give mercenaries tasks.[20] Mercs with a medical kit and medical skill can be set to tend to wounded mercs; this significantly quickens their recovery. Mercs with a tool box and mechanical skill can be set to repair damaged weapons, tools and armour. Mercs can "practice" a skill by themselves or work as a "trainer" or "student". Training a student increases his or her chosen skill. A trainer may also train local citizens to become militia to defend sectors while the mercs are away.[22]

Mercs can be ordered to travel on foot between the sectors.[23] If the player acquires a ground or aerial vehicle in-game, he may load his troops into it to travel between sectors much faster.[24]

Tactical screen[edit]

Screenshot of Jagged Alliance 2: Gold showing a battle in progress on the tactical screen.

The tactical screen shows a sector from an isometric viewpoint. Here the player can view the terrain, explore buildings and find items.[25] Although the game does not feature a visual fog of war, the NPC characters can only be seen if a player-controlled or allied character sees them. The game time advances in real-time on the tactical screen unless a battle is initiated, then the game switches to a turn-based combat mode.

The player can control an individual merc or group of mercs, issuing move, communication and various interaction commands. Mercs can run, walk, swim, crouch or crawl.[26] Mercs may also climb onto the roofs of flat-roofed buildings.

Battle[edit]

Battles occur whenever the player's and enemy forces occupy the same sector. This can happen if enemy or player forces arrive at a hostile sector or the player's actions cause a previously friendly or neutral force to become hostile. The game proceeds in real-time until a member of one force spots an enemy. The game then switches to turn-based play.[27] The battles are played on the tactical screen.

Each force takes alternating turns to move, attack, and perform various other actions. Each character has a limited amount of action points, which are spent to perform actions. The action points are renewed at the beginning of each round, depending on the physical state of the merc. Some unspent action points will also be carried over to the next round. If a combatant has some action points left over during the enemy's turn and spots an enemy, they stand a chance of interrupting[28] the enemy turn and performing actions.

The game may be played using stealth elements. Mercs may move either in normal or stealth mode.[29] In stealth mode, the merc attempts to move without making any noise. Moving stealthily costs more action points, but may successfully hide their position from enemies. The game also features weapons that do not cause loud noise and camouflage kits, which when used may disguise the merc in his environment. Merc attributes and some special skills affect how stealthy they are.

Mercs can attack enemies in many different ways.[27] Firearms such as handguns, machine guns, rifles, close combat and thrown weapons like knives and hand grenades, heavy weapons such as mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and light anti-tank weapons and explosives like mines, and bombs. When a merc attacks, he or she has a certain chance to hit the target depending on the appropriate skill, obstacles in the line of fire and the amount of action points spent aiming. Walls, doors, and many objects can be destroyed using explosives or heavy weapons.

Some battles may be automatically resolved if the player chooses to do so.[30]

Characters[edit]

The characters in Jagged Alliance 2 are mercenaries, enemies, allies and the townsfolk; many of the NPC characters may be interacted with.[31]

The game is played almost entirely through the mercenaries chosen. Mercenaries can be hired from private military company websites, or recruited from the local citizenry. The player may also create one personalized, unique mercenary.

Characters are defined by their skills expressed in character points.[32][33] Every character has an experience level, five attributes (agility, dexterity, strength, leadership, wisdom) and four skills (marksmanship, explosives, mechanical, medical). A character's level is increased by actively participating in the game. Skills are increased by performing actions based on these skills or by training. Attribute points may be lost if a character is critically wounded. Apart from this, a mercenary can also have two (or one highly developed) special skills enhancing a certain aspect of his or her performance such as night operations, or lockpicking.

Each character has a certain amount of health points, which are reduced when he or she takes damage. Wounds can be bandaged by using first aid kits. This prevents the character from bleeding and losing more health but doesn't restore health points.[34] A wounded mercenary is given less action points proportionally to his or her wounds. Health can be restored by resting, being treated by another mercenary with 'doctor'-'patient' pair of commands or visiting a hospital. When a mercenary runs very low on health, the character falls to the ground slowly dying, unable to do anything until medically treated. If a character dies, he cannot be resurrected.

Characters have an energy level, restored by sleep, rest, fluids or injections.[35] Moving, using stealth and getting hit saps energy. Tired mercs who have not rested for a long time become exhausted faster. Exhausted characters will fall to the ground until they regain some energy.[36]

Mercenaries also have a morale level, mainly increased by victories and successful kills and decreased by the opposite. Happy mercs perform better, while unhappy mercs will complain and may leave the player's forces altogether.[36]

Mercs who like each other and work together will have a higher morale than others. Mercenaries who dislike each other will complain often and eventually one of the two mercenaries will quit. Mercenaries may also refuse to be hired if the player has already hired someone they dislike.

Items[edit]

The game features a large array of various items. These include weapons, armour, tools and miscellaneous items.

Items can be traded between mercs, picked up, dropped or thrown. If a merc dies, he drops all his items. Enemies will sometimes drop items upon dying. Mercs can be hired with their own combat equipment. As the game progresses, the online shop[37] offers a larger and better variety of weapons, armour and tools for sale.

Mercenaries can equip and carry various items in their inventory.[38] The mercs can wear armour on their head, chest and legs. Certain skills and interactions require a certain tool or object to be held in the hand.[39]

Weapons[edit]

Almost all weapons in the game exist in real life. Each weapon has a brief description. The descriptions are informal and often humorous. Each weapon's main strengths and weaknesses are pointed out. Both expansions feature additional weapons not seen in the original game.

The mercs can hold one large weapon or dual wield two small weapons. Weapons may be improved via special attachments, for instance a silencer or bipod.[40]

Economy[edit]

The player needs money to pay the mercenary hire fees and to purchase equipment. At the start of the game, the player is given a set amount of money. The main source of income in the game are silver and gold mines located in several towns.[41] The player has to reclaim these town sectors and convince the local miners to work for the player to receive a daily income.[42] Weaponry, equipment and miscellaneous items may also be sold to local merchants.[36]

Replayability[edit]

Although the player is directed by rebels to head to Drassen first, the player may choose to capture the towns and explore the countryside in any order he or she desires. In fact, it is not required to capture any towns. Additionally, almost every sector may be entered via two or more entry points.

The player may choose between a very large array of different mercs, allowing combinations for specific purposes - e.g. stealth combat, night-time combat, close-quarter combat and so on.

The game features random treasure chests, characters and certain events that differ from game to game.[36]

Development[edit]

In an interview with Game.EXE during the game's development, SirTech noted they wanted to preserve freedom of movement, character relationships and flexible storyline from the previous title. Among the new features they discussed real-time mode and player own character's generation.[43] In a later interview during game's alpha release, game's designer Ian Currie also noted the addition of role-playing and strategy elements compared to the previous title. He also explained that—while the tactical game mode was well suited for multiplayer—they would not be implementing it explaining that non-linear story and role-playing elements didn't suit multiplayer.[44] The developers also explained the game being delayed due to heavy improvements in the game engine, graphics and the creation of a detailed world, and originally expected to release in October 1998.[43] Currie explains the game engine had several ground-up rewrites and they spend significant time with game's physics and projectile ballistics, as well as the creation of the non-linear storyline.[44]

Versions[edit]

After the release of the original Jagged Alliance 2, two sequels and various mods have been released.

Unfinished Business[edit]

Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business, alternatively known as Jagged Alliance 2.5 is a short, mission-based standalone sequel released by Sir-Tech in 2001. This release adds some tweaks to the combat engine, as well as a scenario editor,[45][46] yet the gameplay remain largely unchanged.[47]

A new plot is introduced in Unfinished Business. The original owners of Arulco's lucrative mines have returned and established a missile base on the nearby island of Tracona, demanding the mines are returned to them. They destroy the Arulco's now empty Tixa prison to show an example for if their demands are not met. The player must put a team of mercenaries together to infiltrate Tracona and disable the missile base. Alternatively, the player may chose to use the characters from a previously saved Jagged Alliance 2: Gold savegame.[48] Unfinished Business is notably harder than the original.[49][50]

The product appears to be rushed as the gameplay is virtually the same as the original's, the play-time of Unfinished Business is much shorter, and the plot is linear and thus lacks replayability value.[49][50] Sir-tech was experiencing financial problems at the time, most significantly trouble finding a publisher.[51][52][53]

Gold Pack[edit]

Jagged Alliance 2: Gold Pack was published by Strategy First on August 6, 2002[3] and adds the improvements of Unfinished Business to the final release of Jagged Alliance 2. The Unfinished Business and a scenario editor are also included in the package.

Gold Pack introduces notable changes to the difficulty setting. The player choosing an advanced difficulty level may also decide to make the player turns timed and whether to disallow saving during combat, as opposed to the original Jagged Alliance 2, which set these settings automatically.[48]

As of July 2006 it is available via the Steam content delivery system,[54] as well as Turner Broadcasting's GameTap.[55]

Wildfire[edit]

Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire was published by i-Deal Games in 2004 as an official expansion pack by Strategy First.[56] The game's source code was also published in the package,[57] albeit under license.

Comparing to the original Jagged Alliance 2, Wildfire has not altered the game engine or controls. The focus was instead directed into designing revamped environments, new items and stronger enemies.[58] This presents players with a more challenging campaign, however the goals and progression remain the same. In terms of the gameplay features, the game remains almost unchanged.

A renewed commercial release of Wildfire, dubbed version 6, through European publisher Zuxxez Entertainment in the spring of 2005 saw the Jagged Alliance series staying on shop shelves more than five years after the debut of its second iteration.[59] WF6 contains changed sourcecode, a tweaked graphics engine that allows for a higher resolution, introduces new mercenaries and increases squad size from 6 to 10.

Modding[edit]

Jagged Alliance 2: Gold has seen numerous community mods after its release. Notable examples include v1.13, Urban Chaos, or Deidranna Lives.[60]

JA2-Stracciatella[edit]

The JA2-Stracciatella project aims for cross platform capabilities for JA2 by porting the vanilla JA2 Wildfire source code to SDL as underlying library. Mac OS,[61][62][63] Linux and Android[64] and other source ports were released as result. Also, Stracciatella can be seen as an unofficial patch project, since the second focus is the fixing of technical errors (like Buffer overflows[65]) and the removal of technical limitations without changing the games balancing.[66] The last commit of project initiator Tron in the project repository was r7072 from August 2010. In March 2013 the JA2-Stracciatella project was continued by another developer and transferred to a new repository.[67] Support for higher resolutions and additional fixes were introduced.[68]

v1.13[edit]

v1.13 is an enhanced version of Jagged Alliance 2 Gold and partial conversion mod of the game.[60][69] The main change from the original code is the "externalisation" of many previously hardcoded variables to editable XML files, allowing users a great level of modding flexibility. It introduced many new features and items, as well as a multiplayer mode.[70] Since July, 2007, 1.13 has been successfully ported to Linux.[71][72]

Reception[edit]

 Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 85.09%[73]
Review scores
Publication Score
GameSpot 8.8/10[75]
IGN 8.5/10[78]
PC Gamer UK 83/100[77]
PC Gamer US 74/100[76]
PC Zone 80/100
Ars Technica 4.75/5[80]
Computer Games Magazine 5/5[79]

Jagged Alliance 2 received high scores from many reviewers.[75][78][80][81][82][83][84] The game was praised for its non-linear gameplay, freedom of action and variety of tactics, mercenary character traits,[75][85] story-telling and role-playing, detailed world, challenging opponents and excellent audio.[78]

References[edit]

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  4. ^ In-game text: Arulco's previous government has been considered a unique Democratic Monarchy. Although the country was run as a kingdom, ruled by a King and Queen, free elections were held every ten years to assert their legitimacy. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  5. ^ In-game text: A wedding would have a strong, positive influence on the election, thus guaranteeing Chivaldori victory Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  6. ^ In-game text: Deidranna Reitman of Romanian descent was chosen. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  7. ^ In-game text: Within a year of Enrico being elected King, his father, Andreas Chivaldori was found dead .. A significant amount of circumstantial evidence led to the arrest and imprisonment of Enrico Chivaldori for the murder of his father. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  8. ^ In-game text: On the night before Enrico's trail armed escorts were fire-bombed while transferring Enrico .. Palace officials blamed Enrico's assassination on Miguel's rebel forces .. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  9. ^ Fatima: It [letter] is signed by Enrico himself and contains details of the night we helped him flee Arulco. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  10. ^ In-game text: Government / Dictatorship under the guise of a monarchy for the past ten years. / Ruler: Queen Deidranna Reitman / Most government services, including education, were terminated approximately eight years ago. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  11. ^ Enrico: Remember to seek out Miguel and deliver my letter to him. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  12. ^ Fatima: Enrico has enlisted mercenaries to aid us in the struggle. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  13. ^ Deidranna: We crushed those rebels in Omerta! Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  14. ^ Fatima: Deidranna has brutally bombed and attacked us for over two straight months. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  15. ^ Miguel: Deidranna wished to remove Omerta from the map of this country. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  16. ^ In-game text: Enrico Chivaldori faced an extremely popular opponent by the name of Miguel Cordona. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
  17. ^ Carlos: We need safe passage to Drassen or more people will die. Sir-Tech (1999). Jagged Alliance 2 PC. TalonSoft. 
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  44. ^ a b Хажинский, Олег (August 1998). "Без компромиссов, или Интервью перед финишем. Главный дизайнер JA 2 Ян Карри не любит... реализм" [Without compromize, or interview before the finish line. JA2's lead designer Ian Currie does not like... realism]. Game.EXE (in Russian) (Moscow: Computerra) (37): 14–15. 
  45. ^ Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business scenario editor manual
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  60. ^ a b Smith, Adam (October 14, 2011). "Mods And Ends: Jagged Alliance 2". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 2014-02-02. 
  61. ^ Ancheta, Justin (2012-06-01). "Bringing Good Old Games To Modern Macs". Inside Mac Games. Retrieved 2014-03-29. "Jagged Alliance 2 [...] and maintains both a tutorial for getting GOG games to run on Mac OS X, and a list of games he has personally tested to work on Mac OS X through CrossOver, Wineskin, and open source ports." 
  62. ^ Mac Friendly GOG Games Jagged Alliance 2 [...] Source ports available at: http://ja2.monkeyphysics.com/home/osx, and at https://bitbucket.org/gennady/ja2-stracciatella/downloads
  63. ^ OSX Stracciatella Port
  64. ^ JA2 Stracciatella Feedback » Jagged Alliance 2 Android Stracciatella Port RC2 Release - please test on the Bear's Pit Forum, October 3, 2011
  65. ^ tron (2009-06-15). "Download JA2-Stracciatella v0.12.1 - Walnut". tron.homeunix.org. Retrieved 2012-01-28. "Fix a vanilla buffer overflow when loading/saving savegames." 
  66. ^ tron (2008-05-28). "JA2-Stracciatella Q&A". ja-galaxy-forum.com. Retrieved 2012-01-28. "What is the goal of JA2-Stracciatella? The goal is to make Jagged Alliance 2 available to a wide range of platforms, improve its stability, fix bugs and provide a stable platform for mod development." 
  67. ^ ja2-stracciatella on bitbucket.org
  68. ^ Gennady (2013-03-04). "JA2-Stracciatella Continued". www.ja-galaxy-forum.com. Retrieved 2013-03-22. "Update 2013-03-13: Added support for high video resolutions. For example, game can be started in 1024x768 mode like this: ja2.exe -res 1024x768. Any reasonable resolution should work. Some bugfixes from this forum have been integrated. [...]" 
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  85. ^ Jagged Alliance 2 for Linux (Linux Journal)

External links[edit]