And the core mechanics of Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business
are 'good stuff' as well. There's nothing like a good squad-based strategy game to get my juices flowing (emphasis on good
), and JA2:UB
delivers heartily on that. There are a few issues, mainly the psychotic difficulty level, but for those who persevere, JA2:UB
can be an extremely fulfilling experience.
Once again, you'll find yourself in a nonexistent small country helping someone with their 'problems'. These problems are of a paramilitary nature, of course, so in come the mercenaries. You get to pick your squad at the beginning of the game, which is quite cool, as you can choose the types of people who will work well together, and get a wide range of skills and abilities. And you can create a merc for yourself.
JA2: UB is decidedly more linear than the original JA2, consisting mostly of a series of battles and encounters, without the economic micromanagement that was in JA2. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it, but it's still plenty fun without all the 'tweakie' stuff. People also have single prices now, instead of regular salaries, and they come with weaponry, which is nice. Even if the weapons suck.
Most of the game takes place in tactical mode, which has your mercenaries running around a large map, trying to get good shots off at the bad guy. This tactical mode is extremely robust. You can take cover behind trees, rocks, and just about anything else you can think of. You can stand, kneel, or crawl, each one giving a different profile and accuracy of aiming. Each person has a certain number of AP, which work much like they did back in X-Com: UFO Defense. Certain actions always take a certain amount of time, whereas others cost certain numbers of AP. Getting used to the various costs of the game is integral to doing good, as oftentimes you'll need to squeeze every possible AP out of your turns.
The combat system is similarly robust. With tons of guns (and grenades and explosives and . . .), a targeting system that is highly configurable, and realistic aiming issues, it makes for a solid experience. After playing for a while, you can feel the tension in the air as your team trades shots with the bad guys by peeking up over the rocks, firing a few shots, and ducking back down. It's really a great feeling.
Unfortunately, many people may not be able to experience much of the great gameplay in JA2:UB due to the high difficulty level. More will be said later, but I doubt most could get through the first firefight without losing at least one merc. It's frightening how much stronger and better the other side is, and when you see battles with more than twice as many of them as you, you'll know the meaning of hell.
Good thing it's damned fun.