|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Strategy First Inc. / Cypron Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Empire Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 20, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Also, this is a faithful port, which faithful fans will like, but in terms of graphics the age really shows. Some of the games cutscenes look quite good, but during gameplay, the lack of visual updating is painfully obvious. The backgrounds, icons, and characters look downright awful, and nothing about the drab presentation enhances the experience at all. For those with opinions unencumbered by nostalgia, ugly is the only word that fits.
Of course, no game is without its merits, even after 15 years. The music still sounds suitably ominous, for example. Also, Jagged Alliance demands a lot of thought and a lot of strategizing, especially in battle but also in resource management. Its tricky to balance the need to be in cover with the need to have a clear shot at the enemies, and the more territory you capture, the more decisions you have to make about which sectors to attack next, and from which directions. Its also hard to hire the right mercenaries, and the right number of them, to build a powerful, balanced force without running out of money. Once you think youve mastered the games techniques, you can put that thought to the test by turning up the difficulty, which adds a lot of replayability.
In addition, Jagged Alliance still boasts a great cast of mercenaries, most of whom dont become available until youve established either a reputation or a revenue stream. Each of the fighters has a unique voice, skill set, and personality, and they even interact with each other in specific ways, forming friendships and the like. Jagged Alliance demands not only strategy, then, but a feel for human relationships. Even in 2009, few games manage to capture this aspect of life. Jagged Alliance is also one of the few RPG or strategy titles without a sci-fi or fantasy setting; sure, the plot isnt exactly based on a true story, but compared to the tales told in most similar games, this is gritty realism.
In 1994, Jagged Alliance represented a genuine accomplishment, a blending of the RPG and strategy genres that a lot of gamers took to. Five years later, its sequel earned a lot of respect as well. After all this time, its clear what players saw in the game, but for newcomers, its hard to experience the same sense of wonder, and even harder to invest the same level of commitment. The overwhelming majority of DS owners should skip this one, therefore, and those whod like to give it a try should download the PC version (or the sequel) rather than investing in a cartridge.
CCC Freelance Writer