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SummaryMercs and guns and baddies, oh my!
The GoodStrategy, tactics, and a well thought out plan. This is what you need to play this game. X-COM was a lot of fun. The original Jagged Alliance was a blast. This game made me think in tactical terms for weeks (and still does from time to time). Jagged Alliance 2 is a rather large step up from the original in terms of scope, graphics, and all around gameplay. The basic gist of things is that you have been hired by the ex-ruler of a country called Arulco. He is thought dead by its citizens and his ex-wife/queen of Arulco. Your job is to make contact with the rebels, and take the country back. You do this by hiring mercs and basically going to war with the country's army. This is a pretty basic plot, but there are so many side quests and extra NPC's and other things to keep your interest throughout the game.
One of the differences with this and the first game is that you can actually make yourself a merc in the game, instead of leading from some invisible command center. Depending on how you answer some questions, you will have certain abilities or quirks. Trust me, you WILL get attached to yourself. (Um... yeah. You know what I mean...) You hire your mercenaries from AIM (Association of International Mercenaries) by signing contracts (1 day, 1 week, 2 weeks) instead of just paying by the day. The mercenaries that you have access to are mostly new, with some returning from Jagged Alliance and Jagged Alliance:Deadly Games. While there are not as many as in the previous game, they all still have rather unique personalities. Some will simply not work with others, while some may go berzerk upon seeing the enemy. This was one of those things that I loved about the original. Personality. These are not mercs that you hire and use carelessly. Each one has their use in your team. When you lose one, you don't just feel it in the bank account...
As for weapons, there is a large selection that can be scrounged, stolen, looted or bought. There is even an option at the beginning of the game where you can use a larger range of weapons. There are handguns ranging from the Desert Eagle, to rifles such as the Colt Commando. Then of course there are the attachments. Bipods, scopes, silencers, even an underbarell grenade launcher!
The BadThe AI in this game is very good. Sometimes too good. Even on the easy setting, the enemy is no pushover. The enemy will rarely fire a shot that they know will miss. Supposedly, this is due to the fact that the enemy always knows their chances of hitting, and will only fire when those chances are good. Its a fairly even trade-off to play on normal, so you can get the better guns earlier on. Like in any real-world conflict, weapon and armor quality mean a lot.
Another quirk is the line-of-sight. The manual states "you only see what your mercs see". There are some instances when you KNOW that they should see the enemy, but they don't. That and hiding behind trees/bushes is iffy. Sometimes it helps sometimes it doesn't.
My final gripe is damage rules. Some of those weapons should be dealing a lot more damage than they do. One shot to the head, maybe two should kill a man regardless of what kind of helmet they wear. Three! Four! I don't think so.