VrE Online
Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games
from Sir-Tech
This ain't paintball in the woods...

Rating: graphics 82, sound 84, interface 86, fun factor 72, overall 81

Deadly Games Welcome to Deadly Games, the winner gets the cash, the loser, well, the loser gets to be the dead guy. Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games is Sir-Tech's follow up to Jagged Alliance. A turn based strategy game, Deadly Games pits your talents as a mercenary leader against the scum of the earth, all in the quest to preserve democracy, freedom, Mom's apple pie, well, ok, actually it's a grab for cash with expendable mercs following you blindly into battle.

I'm the first to admit that I normally don't care for turn based strategy games. They tend to play very slowly, and given a little practice, are almost always easily beaten. Deadly Games surprised me. While it still plays a little slow for me, the AI makes each mission challenging. As I played more of Deadly Games, and got further into the mission list, I found myself playing it more and more without even realizing it. This is always a good sign for a game.

As you get each assignment, where you have no option to refuse, you then pick your team of mercs and then lead them into battle. This leads into my first real big complaint about Deadly Games. As a mercenary for hire, I'd like some option to pick and choose my missions. While some people prefer straight up assault, I tend to like the stealth missions. Sneak behind enemy lines, blow up a bridge and get out. As the game sits, you just get handed your next mission and you either go on it or quit playing. I even went as far as to go into a mission, set up a defensive perimeter, and wait for the mission turn count to end (an end mission button would have been real nice). I never fired a shot, never saw the enemy, and lost a lot of money.

Deadly Games The game is played from a 3/4 top down view. You get to see all of your men, and all of their line of site areas. This is pretty cool, and well done. There could be an enemy agent just around the bush from you and you'll never see him until it's too late. From this angle you then move each merc forward into a fighting or covering position, and hope you don't stumble across the enemy while you are out of position while moving. This is where the turns tend to drag on forever. To move safely across a wooded area, you can only move a few steps each time. Move everybody two or three steps, wait to see if anything happens in line of site, then take a few more steps. You can move each merc his full move base, then move on to the next merc, but this can get you in a world of hurt if someone ends up out of position in a direct line of fire from an enemy agent.

The other part of the missions that can take a while to get through is the hiring and outfitting of new mercs. Actually, this is one of my favorite parts of the game. With literally dozens of agents to choose from, each with his own specialty, weakness and personality, and the wide assortment of hardware to choose from, you can spend a lot of time putting together the right team for each mission. And yes, these mercs do have personalities. There are several that refuse to work with each other, a few that will disobey orders whenever they feel like it, and a few that are just plain timid and will quit the team if you loose a few men.

Deadly Games The personality aspect of Deadly Games is what finally made me like this game. It was refreshing to have a merc refuse to do something for me when I told him to. Right up to the point I told another merc to take him out for disobeying orders. Of course this had the adverse affect of having most of the team quit after that mission. I also liked the interaction between mercs. In one case a female merc accused a guy on the team of being a pervert or something, and demanding I fire him or she would quit. Well, he was a better marksman than she was, so she got to take a little trip.

Then there are the skills that the mercenaries develop. As they progress through the missions, their skills in various areas such as marksmanship and explosives can go up. This makes them more valuable to you, and also winds up costing you more money. But you get what you pay for. You can also send members of your team to the hospital for extended recovery, send them to training to move up some skills quickly, or just run them into the ground till they quit or die. This area was another that really bothered me though. There was no way to just take some time off to heal up your team. And since you couldn't pick and choose your missions, you either went in with fewer men than needed, or you drag along wounded men who wind up dying right away, or you could simply fire them and hire a new merc to take his place. This can be a real pain if you are trying to build a team full of specialists and you loose the one guy that seems real good at handling dynamite.

Deadly Games Other than the few major complaints about Deadly Games, for a turn based strategy game it was very well done. When played with the companion Cd that comes along with it, you can get some good two player games going, but, I really think it's time for the turn based games to move on and catch up with the rest of the world and go real time.

--- Steve Gerencser
--- krell@psyber.com

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