Jagged Alliance Review
Jagged Alliance box art
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 game’s 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.

Jagged Alliance screenshot

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. It’s 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. It’s 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 you’ve mastered the game’s 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 don’t become available until you’ve 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 isn’t exactly based on a true story, but compared to the tales told in most similar games, this is gritty realism.

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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, it’s clear what players saw in the game, but for newcomers, it’s 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 who’d like to give it a try should download the PC version (or the sequel) rather than investing in a cartridge.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
2.0
Graphics
Yikes. They were undoubtedly fine for 1994, but they have not aged well.
3.9
Control
It’s about as good as it could be on the DS, with a few menus accessible through the stylus. However, if you rent via mail and don’t get an instruction book, it’ll take some figuring out, because the game does not help you along at all.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The drum-heavy orchestral tracks fit the game and have aged better than the graphics.
3.7

Play Value
This game, by today’s standards, is incredibly boring, but there are many hours of play time here for those who get into it. Also, those who enjoyed the original PC game will get a kick out of the faithful reproduction.

3.3
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Intense turn-based combat lets you plan every action you’ll need. Santino and his men are ruthless, ingenious, and downright dangerous.
  • Full-screen playing area and strategic view engulfs you in exciting action and maximizes strategic planning.
  • Heart-stopping suspense as you venture into hostile territory -- more than 50 diverse playing fields.
  • Non-linear game play -- how each game unfolds depends entirely on you.


  • Screenshots / Images
    Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge Jagged Alliance screenshot - click to enlarge

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