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News Opinions 21 April 2023, 13:31

Jagged Alliance Tries to Return to Grace, But There's No Revolution

At last, Jagged Alliance 3 returns after numerous attempts, and it seems that this return will at least be interesting. I've spent a few hours with JA3, and while there won't be a revolution, it surely won't be another flop.

Source: THQ Nordic

Not so long ago, at the end of 2022 to be exact, I in another text, I bemoaned the fact that I didn't believe in returning to Arulco – that I wouldn't be able to play a sequel that would at least equal Jagged Alliance 2. It's April 2023, and I've just spent a few hours in Jagged Alliance 3, and I would like to not so much to cancel what I said, as to add a little footnote to it.

Although unwavering optimism is not what I am feeling and I do not claim that a revolution, a breakthrough or even a decent continuation awaits us, Haemimont Games studio, which is trying to restore the brand to its rightful place, unlike its predecessors, undoubtedly approaches the subject with due diligence. Jagged Alliance 3 promises to be at least interesting.

Trouble in Paradise? Use A.I.M.

The action of JA3 takes place after the events of the second installment, i.e. after the liberation of Arulco (you will find banners advertising sunny holidays in this unlucky country in the game). We get a new assignment: on Grand Chien, a tropical island somewhere in Africa, the newly elected president disappeared, and the country is taken over by the terror-spreading paramilitary organization, the Legion. And so, we enter the fray – we have to find the president and his daughter and liberate the island, with particular focus on the mines that contain precious metals. In other words, it's exactly what happened the last time around – which isn't actually all that bad.

So, with limited resources, we log into the A.I.M. and we hire our first mercenaries. The IMP, i.e. the character wizard, is also back. And all this, of course, comes within an interface that imitates websites from the early days of the Internet. Fans will quickly feel at home – the creators give us many nods, and there are plenty of references to the past of the series.

Jagged Alliance Tries to Return to Grace, But Theres No Revolution - picture #1

Jagged Alliance 3, THQ Nordic, 2023

Steroid, Shadow, Gus, Raven...

Among the mercenaries in AIM, we will meet well-remembered old friends that we loved so much in the previous parts. So, for example, Steroid, as dull as rusted iron, returns; there's the guy who doesn't share his camouflage paints – Shadow; and even old Gus (well, he only sort of returns...). The veterans are joined by new and talented fighters, such as the young Ukrainian sniper Kalyna.

Mercenaries, as in JA2, are defined by many attributes, features and skills – some are strong as horses and agile as cats; some can handle automatic or sniper weapons or throwing knives with exceptional skill; others prefer night ops (the clock ticks outside of combat – we can wait and attack under the cover of night); some prefer stealth; some can repair electronics with a toothpick or heal an open fracture with plantain, or finally there are those, who'd rather blow something up than open it. All this looks more or less similar to the illustrious predecessor.

We also have some lunatics, and I think – though I wasn't able to fully confirm it after only a few hours – that the creators have put some genuine effort into the relationships between the mercenaries. They're already interfering in our actions and and commenting on them (although the version that I played missed some of the sounds and voice recordings), some of the dudes have strong sympathy or dislike for others, and it may happen that they will refuse to work for you if you have already hired someone they hate.

Jagged Alliance Tries to Return to Grace, But Theres No Revolution - picture #2

Jagged Alliance 3, THQ Nordic, 2023

Ready, aim, fire

The combat – long live the nostalgia! – is turn-based. While Jagged Alliance 3, like every turn-based tactical game nowadays, suffers the common ills of "xcomoness," those who remember JA2 will welcome the return of the old aiming circle, which we can reduce in size (to increase precision) by spending extra action points. We can also target a specific part of the body, either dealing higher damage (head) or reducing the enemy's accuracy or speed (arms, legs).

As it has already been said: similarities to XCOM can be seen here in at least a few places. Our mercenaries use the cover system and run the well-known Overwatch system (which, in fact, had the form of "interrupting" enemy's actions already in JA2, but the "xcomness" is a terribly contagious disease). The whole thing, oddly enough, works well enough and my first impression was along the lines of "Honestly, I thought it would be worse," while my second impression was "Damn, it's late, but I'll actually hit one more sector." These sectors are much smaller than in part one, but the world map itself seems larger and more diverse.

It's nice and all, but I already forgot it

As a die-hard fan of JA2, I've had the most concerns about the 3-D graphics. Don't get me wrong – they look OK, and the game also runs like a charm, while the cities contain plenty of people. Nevertheless, this setting is simply... without flair, sometimes austere and it feels a bit as if the village was a mere mock-up, rather than a real, living, breathing, dirty place.

And I get the concept – the vibes of a place where modern pirates come from, attacking container ships in worn Chicago Bulls T-shirts, wielding rusty AKs are certainly here – but something's simply amiss. You've seen graphics like these a hundred times and while playing JA3, you won't even pay attention to it. Not because it wasn't done properly, but because it's just bland. It's a bit of generic 3D, and it's saddening because the distinctive world of Jagged Alliance begged for an overarching artistic concept. And that's just not here. Nevertheless, the setting is correct enough that it doesn't hurt your eyes, which, considering some, ahem, "great" achievements of the previous installments of the series, should be considered a plus.

Jagged Alliance Tries to Return to Grace, But Theres No Revolution - picture #3

Jagged Alliance 3, THQ Nordic, 2023

It might work

The world is full of characters and additional challenges, such as a guy who stepped on a mine, and his life now depends on us. The dialogues themselves (the creators implemented a dialogue wheel system and the choices, as in the previous part, have some meaning) perfectly reflect the spirit of the series and I think that this specific atmosphere of a mean, brutal, but at the same time funny game will return.

The mechanics known from the series will also return – in order to get money and pay our mercenaries, we have to take over the mines. The liberated sectors will be attacked by an enemy trying to regain power, so it will be necessary to train the locals in guerrilla warfare. Our mercenaries also have to catch some shut-eye after hard work. Serious wounds will be healed by doctors assigned to patients, and to increase the attributes of a given mercenary, a teacher and an apprentice must be appointed.

While fans of JA2 should enjoy the continuation, as Haemimont Games clearly contributed to this production, I'm not sure if JA3 has enough legs to interest players that are new to the series. Still, I hope that this will be the case, because I really don't want to have to cry over the fate of this IP any more.Jagged Alliance 3 may not be the game that the fans are waiting for, but it's quite possible that it'll be a production that won't leave a bad taste, and may even prove to be a pleasant reminder of what we loved about the series. Which is what I wish for myself and all of her other old, decrepit fans.

Matthias Pawlikowski

Matthias Pawlikowski

The editor-in-chief of, associated with the site since the end of 2016. Initially, he worked in the guides department, and later he managed it, eventually becoming the editor-in-chief of Gamepressure, an English-language project aimed at the West, before finally taking on his current role. In the past, a reviewer and literary critic, he published works on literature, culture, and even theater in many humanities journals and portals, including the monthly Znak or Popmoderna. He studied literary criticism and literature at the Jagiellonian University. Likes old games, city-builders and RPGs, including Japanese ones. Spends a huge amount of money on computer parts. Apart from work and games, he trains tennis and occasionally volunteers for the Peace Patrol of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity.


Jagged Alliance 3

Jagged Alliance 3