SummaryOne giant leap for mankind
The GoodI don't know where to begin! Being a long-time fan of the series, I felt amazed by the added depth of plot, new features, new weapons, and new tactics, not to mention the cool new mercs, such as Shadow, Stephen Rothman, and Reaper (or the new budget mercs, such as Barry Unger and Igor), as well as by the advancement and redefinition of the old mercs (Buzz, Lynx, Scope, Hitman, Fox (foxier, but ditzier than ever!), Wolf, and Helmut). I loved having to choose mercenaries from two competing agencies. The graphics and interface still aren't great, but they are great steps forward for this series. (However, it still feels like DOS with its linear menu choices). Creating your own custom mercenary at the beginning gave me such a thrill (with this, you can go for desired abilities or to truly try to make a merc just like you, with all of your strengths and weaknesses). The game map is huge and you have to control the fatigue levels of your team carefully. In addition, you can hire up to 18 mercs in 3 teams (versus 6 mercs in 1 team in the 2 previous versions). There is so much to like in this game. I have not even begun to mention the great variety of non-mercs and tons of side quests you'll encounter in JA2. The surprising dialogues will catch you off guard and will occasionally delight and horrify you.
The BadIt's gory at times. The graphics aren't that great, per se, but some of the mutilation will shock you at the least expected moment. Enemy bodies will splatter at close range with the "right" (or wrong) weapon and you can pop off heads as well. It is quite a tour de force in both surprising and horrifying ways.
Do the creators at Sirtech have something against Romanians? First, in Deadly Games, there was Reuban, a psychopath merc from Romania. Now, the enemy, Deidranna, comes from Romania as well. It's odd! (To their credit, I hope that this was a coincidence in their choices of nationalities for various characters.)
The main villians (Elliot and D.) are more annoying than evil. In any case, you'll want to shoot Deidranna! Maybe annoying isn't so bad... but, compared to the pure evil of the original villain in Jagged Alliance, these clowns in JA2 seem like a parody of evil and destruction.
Many of the citizens of the land have bad "Spanish" accents.
Ira, a key (and otherwise likeable) person you'll encounter, has the ugliest New York accent that you'd want to listen to. In fact, many of the characters have exaggerated taunts and mannerisms. (The voices in the game are both good and bad... you'll see why after playing this for a while.)
The ending sectors are incredibly difficult-- tanks are very frustrating when even your heavy weapons seem to fail and your platoon gets blasted by tanks, mortars, and elite enemies... I don't know why Sir-tech elevated the difficulty so extremely toward the end.
The Bottom LineIf you can deal with turn-based and mostly close combat strategy, buy this immediately. If you like JA2, get the other games in the series for historical reasons. The graphics still leave you wanting, but the sounds, gameplay, and incredible depth will provide you with countless options and hours (and possibly years) of struggle. This is a memorable, addictive, frustrating, and valuable game.