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E3: PMC ops in Jagged Alliance: Back in Action

11:40 AM on 06.13.2011 // Tony Ponce
  @megaStryke

Jagged Alliance: Back in Action is a mercenary tactics game intended to revitalize a dormant franchise. No, this isn't the long-awaited Jagged Alliance 3 (which is apparently still happening) but instead a remake of 1999's Jagged Alliance 2.

The monarchy of the nation of Arulco is deposed and you take command of the mercenaries hired to restore the rightful ruler. I checked out a hands-off demo to see how this operation would go down.

To accomplish missions, you hire teams of mercenaries from an available pool. Each merc has his or her own habits and idiosyncrasies, and a team will only be as effective as the compatibility between teammates. The interactions between teammates, whether they hate each other's guts or not, adds levity to the game.

Now, a bit of a stink was raised last year when it was announced that Back in Action would drop the original's turn-based combat. Trust me, this doesn't make the game any less tactical. Instead, you have two gameplay options -- a traditional RTS style and the new "Plan & Go" system.

The way "Plan & Go" works is that players will plan several commands that they'd want the mercs to follow before hitting "play" and letting them do their thing. At the bottom of the screen is a timeline not unlike a storyboard found on video editing software; here, you can perfectly sync the movements and actions of your mercs.

Once the commands are set, the mercs will run on autopilot until a certain waypoint is hit. These waypoints are triggers that pause the action and allow you to re-plan your strategy. You can modify your triggers -- when a merc is low on health, when an enemy is spotted, when a weapon jams, etc. -- so that the game runs at your own pace.

Doesn't sound too bad, now does it? If you want to give it a shot, Jagged Alliance: Back in Action will release on the PC on October 18.




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