Jagged Alliance (series)

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Jagged Alliance
Basic Information
Madlab Software, Sir-Tech, Sir-Tech Canada, I-Deal Games
Sir-Tech, Talonsoft, Titan Computer, Interplay, Strategy First
Tactial RPG, Turn-based Tactics, RPG
MS-DOS, Microsoft Windows, Amiga, GNU/Linux and Nintendo DS

Jagged Alliance is a series of turn-based tactics video games. From the first Jagged Alliance installment on, the series received critical acclaim[citation needed] and gained a significant cult following[citation needed], although this never translated to major commercial success. The first games in the series were for DOS, but work well under all flavours of Microsoft Windows and in emulators like DOSBox. From Jagged Alliance 2 on, the games were developed using DirectX for native Windows operation. Jagged Alliance 2 was also released for Linux and is currently available on Steam and on GOG.com for Windows.

Overview[edit | edit source]

The Jagged Alliance games center on strategically controlling mercenary squads, on and off the field, who complete various missions such as freeing countries from oppressive dictators. A sticky phrase describes these games as "X-COM with personality."[citation needed] The games feature a unique mix of turn-based battle simulation, 4X (eXpand, eXploit, eXplore and eXterminate) elements and role-playing.

Sharp humour via spoken character comments is a trademark of the series. The personalities of the individual mercenaries range from mildly eccentric to obviously disturbed, and their spoken lines give the games a cartoon-like quality.Template:Huh This contrasts the games' setting which is otherwise closely linked to such subjects as war and death; the intentTemplate:Huh is to avoid a false sense of realism and overt references to real political events.[citation needed]

Each mercenary is an individual with their own traits, and fans quickly selected their favourites from the lot (such as the dour, bearskin-cap wearing Ivan Dolvich, who spoke only Russian in the original game and broken English in the sequel). Part of the strategy and genius in the game was the player's freedom to select a multi-faceted team to win the game in different ways. Not all teams would work; for example, Ivan and his nephew Igor, who work well together, are hated by Steroid, the Polish bodybuilder. "Buns", a Danish markswoman, hates "Fox," a medic with centerfold looks. In contrast, "Fox" loves working with "Grizzly," on whom she has something of a crush.

The mercenaries may be out on various assignments (again, determined randomly) so that the available pool of characters is never quite the same for each game.

The player has to maintain a level of reputation in the Jagged Alliance games. If the player gets his or her troops killed often, regularly hires and dismisses members or generally is insensitive (such as not paying for deceased merc body shipments back home), his or her reputation will lower. Bad player's reputation affects all mercenaries. Mercs may demand a significant pay raise to consider working for the player. Hired mercenaries may quit unless the player discreetly pays them a bonus. And only desperate-for-work mercs will agree to work for really notorious players.

Intellectual property[edit | edit source]

The Intellectual Property (IP) for Jagged Alliance has been exchanged between many companies. The series and IP were created by Mad Labs Software,[1] who later became a part of the publisher for the first game, Sir-Tech Software, Inc., along with a transfer of IP. The second game, Jagged Alliance 2, was also started by Sir-Tech. When Sir-tech's publishing arm went bankrupt, the game rights were transferred to its development house Sir-Tech Canada, and published by TalonSoft. By the time Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business was released, Sir-Tech's publishing arm was out of business and the game was released by Interplay. Subsequently, Talonsoft went bankrupt. At the moment, Strategy First owns the IP and has published Jagged Alliance: Wildfire. Strategy First made several attempts to extend the series with Jagged Alliance 3D and Jagged Alliance 3, both of which never saw the light of day. Strategy First was acquired by Silverstar Holdings, which then ran into financial problems and was delisted by NASDAQ.[2] It is unclear what effect this will have on future games using the Jagged Alliance IP, though in the final SEC filing before being delisted Silverstar stated that it had reached a settlement of some issues with Russian-based Akella: "Akella and 3A Entertainment have the option to acquire certain intellectual property rights for the Jagged Alliance and Disciples franchises for an additional $100,000."[3]

The first four Jagged Alliance games were developed by Mad Labs (later renamed Sir-Tech Canada Ltd.) which was Ian and Linda Currie plus a few other artists and programmers. Ian and Linda Currie were the lead designers on the Jagged Alliance series. Sir-Tech Canada Ltd. was based in Ottawa, Ontario but has disappeared (as of 2003). One other notable game Sir-Tech Canada Ltd. created was Wizardry 8.[4]

Games in the series[edit | edit source]

Jagged Alliance[edit | edit source]

Main article: Jagged Alliance
The GUI for Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games, showing the player's mercs bordering the playing field. In Jagged Alliance 2, the mercs are lined up along the bottom.
The Mission Briefing screen for Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games gives an overview of the objective of the mission, how long the player has to complete it and the reward that will be paid if successful.

Released in 1994 for MS-DOS, this first game of the series tasks the player with freeing the island of Metavira from the greedy Santino. The player must recruit mercenaries as they explore, capture, and hold new territory. The natives harvest the valuable trees from which a revolutionary medicine can be extracted; a result of the island having been used as a nuclear testing ground in 1952. The more trees the player holds, the more income they make. Income can be used to hire native guards and hire more mercenaries to take the offensive and clear more sectors of enemies.

This game features a top-down perspective of the game field for battles, with character portraits framing the view on the left and right sides. A separate map view shows the entire country broken up into distinct conquerable sectors.

Jagged Alliance: Deadly Games[edit | edit source]

Released in 1995, Deadly Games is a DOS sequel to the original game. It features a different format, however, and is considered by some to be more of a spin-off than a sequel. This game features the same engine and top-down perspective as the original game.

In Deadly Games, the player takes a group of mercenaries through a series of missions. The missions are linked chronologically, removing the need for micro-management on a strategic map. The scenario branches somewhat depending on the player's successes and failures. There are multiple terrain types, the mercenaries are hired and fired between missions, and the first equipment trader (Micky) of the series offers his services (occasionally he may sell the player a bunch of equipment that turns out to be junk prompting the mercs to exclaim "Micky just gave us the deep six!").

The most innovative aspects of Deadly Games include a wide variety of special ops mission types like hostage rescues, demolition and infiltration missions. Strategic features like turn limits and a boosted AI as well as networked multiplayer capabilities make this the most complete package in the series. The integrated scenario and campaign editors allow for the creation of custom strategic scenarios, adding to the replay value. Merc weapons can be modified by adding scopes, silencers and barrel extenders. Heavier equipment such as grenade launchers and mortars are available as well.

Jagged Alliance 2[edit | edit source]

Main article: Jagged Alliance 2

This game was released in 1999 for Windows, and was later ported to Linux by Tribsoft. The mission of this second official game of the series is to free the country of Arulco from its evil dictator Queen Deidranna. Deidranna married the democratically elected King of Arulco, then launched a coup d'état eight years ago, deposing her husband and taking power for herself. The player is 'hired' by the exiled king, Enrico Chivaldori, to free his homeland of Deidranna's dictatorial rule.

Gameplay is similar to the original grand adventure style of Jagged Alliance, but features higher-resolution graphics and an isometric pseudo-3D view of the battleground. The terrain has two height levels (ground and rooftops) for player/enemy sprites and a basic physics engine for thrown objects and ballistics. It also features "destructible terrain" in that players are able to blow open walls and buildings with explosives. The game also takes place across diverse and rather imaginative locations including a multi-level prison facility, a school, a hospital, SAM sites, a vast swamp and a junkyard.

The weapons arsenal has grown considerably to include a variety of weapons based on real-life counterparts (such as automatic weapons, shotguns and rocket launchers) and also fictional weapons like an auto firing rocket rifle. There are some more roleplaying elements like specialty professions and the possibility to create a custom mercenary as well.

Mercs can talk to one another during missions, usually spouting one-liners and other comments to each other.

JA2 has been extensively modded by fans of the series. Most notable include, but are not limited to: v1.13,[5][6][7] Urban Chaos,[8] Deidranna Lives,[9] and Renegade Republic.[10]

Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business[edit | edit source]

Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business, alternatively known as Jagged Alliance 2.5 is a short, mission-based standalone sequel released by Sir-Tech in 2001. This release adds some tweaks to the combat engine, as well as a scenario editor[11][12], yet the gameplay remain largely unchanged.[13]

A new plot is introduced in Unfinished Business. The original owners of Arulco's lucrative mines have returned and established a missile base on the nearby island of Tracona, demanding the mines are returned to them. They destroy the Arulco's now empty Tixa prison to show an example for if their demands are not met. The player must put a team of mercenaries together to infiltrate Tracona and disable the missile base.

Jagged Alliance 2: Gold Pack[edit | edit source]

Jagged Alliance 2: Gold Pack was published by Strategy First on August 6, 2002[14] and adds the improvements of Unfinished Business to the final release of Jagged Alliance 2. Unfinished Business and a scenario editor are also included in the package.

Gold Pack introduces notable changes to the difficulty setting. The player choosing an advanced difficulty level may also decide to make the player turns timed and whether to disallow saving during combat, as opposed to the original Jagged Alliance 2, which set these settings automatically.[15]

Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire[edit | edit source]

Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire was published by i-Deal Games in 2004 as an official expansion pack by Strategy First.[16] The game's sourcecode was also published in the package, albeit under license.

Comparing to the original Jagged Alliance 2, Wildfire has not altered the game engine or controls. The focus was instead directed into designing revamped environments, new items and stronger enemies.[17] This presents players with a more challenging campaign, however the goals and progression remain the same. In terms of the gameplay features, the game remains almost unchanged.

Jagged Alliance 3D and 3[edit | edit source]

Strategy First and Game Factory Interactive announced in June 2004 that Russian developer MiST Land South would develop the next two games in the Jagged Alliance series: Jagged Alliance 3D (JA3D) and Jagged Alliance 3 (JA3).

Jagged Alliance 3D was envisioned as "JA2 in 3D", or basically the same game as Jagged Alliance 2 but using a 3D engine. Jagged Alliance 3 would be the "true sequel" to JA2, a full-fledged game in the same spirit as JA2, and using the engine developed for JA3D. JA3D would come out quickly, within a year or two of the release of the generally successful Wildfire mod, and be followed by Jagged Alliance 3. SFI choose GFI because GFI had already released Cops 2170, a tactical-strategy game published by SFI in North America. The two companies already had a relationship, and it was felt the JA3D project could be mutually beneficial.

From statements made by both Strategy First and Game Factory Interactive, it is apparent that GFI assumed the costs for the development, with SFI providing the intellectual property and the overall vision for the project. This arrangement proved to be very cumbersome, and prone to misunderstandings and confusion. SFI, naturally enough, had very ambitious goals for JA3D while GFI sought to control development costs and time.[18]

The initial plan was for GFI to use a modified Cops 2170 engine to quickly produce JA3D. However, GFI already had a second strategy game in production, ALFA: Anti-terror, and they made the decision to use this engine for both games. GFI planned to set the game in Africa, which was fine with SFI. However, GFI ran into trouble with the strategic layer for Jagged Alliance. They proposed a mission-based structure for JA3D instead. There would be no free-flowing strategic layer, as in Jagged Alliance and Jagged Alliance 2 where the player made strategic movement decisions, and initiated attacks on a map. Instead, the game would be structured like Jagged Alliance : Deadly Games, with a series of missions, which were essentially combat-only levels. SFI was resistant to the idea, but agreed to it, feeling this would shorten the development time. Besides, JA3D was always intended as a bridge between JA2 and JA3, so it was acceptable that it was not a "full game".

In 2004, initial screenshots of the new engine were released, showing a somewhat primitive 3D engine with familiar Jagged Alliance characters, such as Shadow.

In May 2005, the MiST Land South developers announced they would be discarding the turn-based combat system in favor of real-time combat. The turn-based combat had been a hallmark of Jagged Alliance from the very beginning, and it was a major reason why most fans stayed with the game. This announcement was a surprise to Strategy First, and was very quickly vetoed by Richard Therrien, VP product development of SFI.

In September 2005, SFI withdrew the rights for Jagged Alliance 3 from GFI, leaving them with the JA3D license only.[19]

A pre-beta version of JA3D was shown at the 2006 E3 convention, and received a generally favorable reception.[20] The gameplay appeared to be very similar to Jagged Alliance 2, with updated and improved graphics, as well as a 3D combat engine.

On July 20 2006, Game Factory Interactive announced that MiST Land South was being dissolved, as of August 1 2006.[21]

In August 2006, SFI withdrew the rights to JA3D as well. GFI claims that the game simply did not fit within SFI's plans. SFI, on the other hand, states that JA3D was in an incomplete state and not ready for the scheduled release date. It was obvious that SFI, having faced years of development without any progress, had finally given up on the project.

This left GFI with no rights to use any of the intellectual property of JA3D, including characters and story line. GFI now plans to rework the characters and story to remove Jagged Alliance-specific details, and will publish the game under a different name. In a September 3 2006 post on its discussion boards, GFI claims that SFI owes it money, but this is denied by SFI without further elaboration. Ironically, one of the changes GFI plans to make to JA3D is the introduction of a strategic layer.

Strategy First intended to produce Jagged Alliance 3 internally, with head developer Thiessen promising a much more open experience than any other Jagged Alliance game. There were expected to be five separate factions to fight in JA3, instead of a single enemy. Characters were said to have their own agendas and allegiances in addition to randomization of various settings of the game upon startup in order to make it less predictable; a character who was allied with the player in one game could be their enemy in the next. Player actions were also said to influence how the characters of the world react to them.

In December 2006, Strategy First outsourced Jagged Alliance 3 again. The publisher along with Akella and F3games, (both Russian developers) were to create the game, setting an approximate release date of late 2008.

As of October 2008 the game has been delayed again, and Akella's website is displaying a release date of Q1 2010. This delay is likely due to publishers demand to improve graphics.[22]

Planned featuresTemplate:Bywhom:

  • Realistic damage models for characters and structures
  • Non-linear mission basis
  • Varying weather conditions
  • Coop and multiplayer modes
  • Four different sides to choose from

On December 21, 2009, a German language game site reported that Akella had stopped development on Jagged Alliance 3.[23] Strategy First has made no statement on the future of the Jagged Alliance series.

On March 9th, 2010, German outfit bitComposer Games picked up the rights to the PC strategy series, and started "preliminary development" on the third full game for release next year.[24]

Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge[edit | edit source]

In November 2007 Game Factory Interactive released Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge.[25] The game does not have any storyline or characters in common with JA2, as GFI lost the rights to use any of the intellectual property of Strategy First. Still, it is seen as a spiritual successor; the game is structurally similar to Jagged Alliance series and features a mercenary-themed plot, turn-based gameplay, and a familiar game interface.

Jagged Alliance DS[edit | edit source]

In June 2005, Pocket PC Studios and Strategy First announced a conversion of Jagged Alliance 2 Gold for the Nintendo DS.

In May 2009, a Nintendo DS Jagged Alliance game was released, based on the original Jagged Alliance.[26]

Jagged Alliance 2: Reloaded[edit | edit source]

On August, 20 2010, bit Composer Games announced Jagged Alliance 2: Reloaded, a full scale remake of Jagged Alliance 2. The goal of the remake is to improve the original game concept and improve visual weaknesses of the original, the remake will have all the content from the original Jagged Alliance 2 and all of its expansions as well as all of the voice acting and characters, the story will also remain unchanged.

Jagged Alliance 2: Reloaded will feature modern 3D graphics in a isometric perspective, the user interface will be completely redesigned and a new detailed tutorial that helps new players to learn how to play the game properly due to the game's 'complex set of rules'.

The developers estimate that the remake will take players around 70 hours to complete and the mercenaries will be easier to train, the remake is currently due to be released in late 2011.[27]

Jagged Alliance Online[edit | edit source]

Gamigo and bitComposer Games have announced at Gamescom 2010 that a new title, Jagged Alliance Online, a web browser tactical MMORPG is in development and due for a 2011 release. The MMO offers the usual Jagged Alliance game mechanics, a mix of turn-based combat and real-time action. From an isometric perspective, each player controls and maintains a group of mercenaries and will be tasked to use their abilities to complete missions and collect money and build a reputation. To succeed, players will be required to train and equip their mercenaries with better weapons and tools. Players can also help each other, such as borrowing mercenaries from their friends, working together to complete missions, and form alliances with other players; there will also be Player versus player action.

Jagged Alliance Online will be developed by Cliff Hanger Productions and will have 3D graphics.[28]

Film[edit | edit source]

In March 2007, Strategy First announced that they had penned a deal for the creation of a film based upon the Jagged Alliance property. The movie license was acquired by Los Angeles based Union Entertainment.[29]

Digital distribution[edit | edit source]

On July 6 2006 Jagged Alliance 2 was made available to buy via the Steam distribution service.[30] It is also available via download from Manifesto Games.[31]

Jagged Alliance 2 Wildfire (v5) is being distributed electronically by StrategyFirst.[32]

Jagged Alliance 2 Wildfire (v6) is being distributed electronically by Zuxxez Entertainment.[33]

Two versions of the same game (Wildfire) exist due to the game's publisher Strategy First, Inc. falling out after a disagreement with the game's developer, I-Deal Games Studios concerning expenses. Version 5 is the version published by SF before this spat and so is more problematic than v6, the version released through ZUXXEZ and others by the developer since the incident.

Jagged Alliance 2: Gold is available via GameTap.[34]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Jagged Alliance game manual
  2. SEC Form 8-K Filing
  3. SEC 10-Q Filing for December 31, 2008
  4. 2003 RPG Vault Linda and Ian Currie Interview regarding Wizardry 8 and Jagged Alliance
  5. v1.13. PBWorks. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  6. v1.13 mod at Mod DB. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  7. JA2 v1.13 Modders HQ. Bear's Pit JA Community Forums. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  8. JA 2.99 Urban Chaos. Bear's Pit JA Community Forums. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  9. JA2 Deidranna Lives. Bear's Pit JA Community Forums. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  10. JA2 Renegade Republic. Bear's Pit JA Community Forums. Retrieved on 2009-06-03
  11. Jagged Alliance 2: Unfinished Business scenario editor manual
  12. Jagged Alliance 2: Gold game manual, p. 56.
  13. Jagged Alliance 2: Gold game manual.
  14. Jagged Alliance 2: Gold Pack. Retrieved on 2008-04-09
  15. Jagged Alliance 2: Gold game manual, p. 46.
  16. Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire ships. Retrieved on 2009-06-02
  17. Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire Q&A. Retrieved on 2009-06-01
  18. "Jagged Alliance 3D Interview" from Absolute Games 1.5
  19. "Strategy First Terminates Their Agreement With Game Factory Interactive For The Development Of Jagged Alliance Games" press release
  20. "E3 2006 Jagged Alliance 3D Hands-On Preview" from StrategyCore
  21. "MiST land – South ceases functioning" press release
  22. Template:Citeweb
  23. "Akella Drops Jagged Alliance 3" from games.on.net
  24. Template:Citeweb
  25. Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge from gfi.sui
  26. Empire spills the beans about the DS remake of tactical RPG Jagged Alliance.
  27. http://www.jaggedalliance.com/index.php?id=13&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=19&cHash=f3672f27b133abf9c67f45ab914f7e2d
  28. http://www.jaggedalliance.com/index.php?id=13&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=17&cHash=c56a5f50b5649f1dcc00b577b5d7fe85
  29. Strategy First Sign Jagged Alliance Movie Deal. Gamasutra (2007-03-09). Retrieved on 2009-06-04
  30. Jagged Alliance 2 Gold page on Steam. Steam (July 6, 2006).
  31. Jagged Alliance 2 on Manifesto Games. Manifesto Games. Retrieved on 2009-06-04
  32. StrategyFirst game store
  33. Jagged Alliance 2 - Wildfire (Download only) at Zuxxez Entertainment
  34. Jagged Alliance 2 on GameTap. GameTap. Retrieved on 2009-06-04

External links[edit | edit source]

News[edit | edit source]