Jagged Alliance 3 – Jagged Alliance 3 review – The wait was worth it

Estimated read time 9 min read

24 years. It’s been a while since fans of the Jagged Alliance series have been waiting to see a developer come up with a sequel that does justice to the license. This time it’s up to the Haenimont Games team, best known for the Tropico series, to take up the gauntlet. Here is their war diary.


The A-Team

The story of Jagged Alliance 3 is the simplest. The president of a West African nation is abducted by an ugly cinematic cliche by the nickname “Major”. The latter quickly took possession of the country’s diamond mines thanks to his militia, and the president’s daughter has no choice but to call on the all risk agency IAM mercenaries to save his father and regain control of the country. The game clearly plays the action cinema parody card with more or less success. The humor shown by the characters in the dialogues is thus sometimes particularly heavy and will not be to everyone’s taste.


Modern video games are regularly criticized for their tendency to take the player by the hand. Jagged Alliance does exactly the opposite: it’s been a long time since I’ve come across a game that cares so little about newbie players, both in terms of difficulty (the game quickly becomes punitive) and simply in terms of accessibility. Forgive me if this test has, at times, the air of a quick tutorial.

I dance the IAM

A personalized mercenary

A personalized mercenary

After creating our game and choosing the difficulty and rules that will apply to it, the first step is to select our first team of mercenaries. Let’s start by creating a custom mercenary. You can only create one, and its starting stats will be lower overall than the game’s predefined mercenaries. It’s also expensive, but this custom character doesn’t require a salary. The creation phase is quite simple. The player distributes his points among the ten statistics available, such as health (which determines life points), skill (accuracy of shots) or agility (action points). Let’s finish by giving him two advantages to choose from the list.

vs those you can recruit

vs those you can recruit

Then comes the phase of recruiting the team that surrounds your personal mercenary. Mercenaries are classified into several quality categories, from rookie to legend. Each mercenary you recruit demands a salary and you can only recruit them for a limited time. You can of course extend their contracts, but beware of any resulting salary increases. At the beginning of the game, our budget is limited and we cannot contact the most competent mercenaries. In addition, each mercenary has his own character and gets along more or less well with others, which can have an impact on the salary requirements of some. We will also pay attention to their unique skills, some of which are particularly powerful even among novices. So go for two novices (a doctor and a mechanic) and a veteran sniper.

Getting in touch

Here we are landed on a small beach, en route to meet our future employer located in a house not far away. Along the way, we meet our first enemies and are therefore introduced to the game’s fights. Finally, introduced, it’s easy to say. On this point like many others, Jagged Alliance 3 is sparing in explanations. The fights therefore take place in turn by team turn (you play your characters in the order of your choice, then the entire opposing team plays and so on). Your characters can move, shoot or perform special actions during their turn, depending on their equipment. We find the great classics of this kind of game, namely the cover systems, overwatch which allows you to automatically attack an enemy entering a defined surveillance cone or the possibility of taking cover and carrying over part of your action points to the next turn.


The attack phase also deserves a little explanation. The game takes into account various elements to determine if the shot hits the mark. The line of sight first must be clear. This is especially important if you want to avoid the friendly fire with automatic weapons. The distance also comes into play. It is symbolized by a small bar when you have selected a target. Each weapon has its optimal effective distance. You can also choose to perform a targeted shot on a specific part of the enemy, depending on the protections he has. Finally, you can spend action points to increase the accuracy of your shot. Ah, I forgot: the weather and the environment also play a role, as does the ammo used. With so many elements to take into account, some might have wanted an indicator summarizing the chances of hitting. It is not so. Be aware, however, that the game is open to mods and that an official mod exists to settle this point. gameplay. The goal is, according to the developer, to represent the chaotic and unpredictable side of combat and knowing when to take a shot or not is therefore part of the experience. I’m not convinced by the explanation, but let’s admit, the existence of the mod is a lesser evil.


Choose the land

You will quickly realize that the fights of Jagged Alliance can quickly take a bad turn. Enemy troops often outnumber you and regularly have positional advantage. Knowing where to place fights is often what makes the difference between a resounding victory and a crushing defeat. You must therefore think about your approach and be as discreet as possible so as not to be caught in the open. The AI ​​is satisfactory for this type of game. It tries to take you from behind and makes the best use of the specifics of the troops it has. It’s painful to be dislodged from a shelter with rocket launchers, believe me. As a result, the game can quickly turn out to be quite difficult, even on normal difficulty, and this practically from the start. Of course, there’s also a deep sense of satisfaction when you finish clearing an enemy stronghold without sustaining serious injuries. Overall, the game’s combat system is therefore quite effective and the confrontations are fun to play throughout the game.


A matter of perspective

The activity on Jagged Alliance 3 is divided between two types of view. The tactical view is the one dedicated to combat and exploration. You move there in real time as long as a fight is not engaged with the enemy. It is in this view that you can collect resources or interact with the inhabitants of the Great Dog. Because yes, it is possible to deal with the inhabitants who sometimes have information or missions for you. Gaining the loyalty of a village increases the income from the diamond mines which are your main sources of income. Also know that your choices have consequences and some dilemmas await you on the way. Which could even end in recruitment(s) of hidden character(s).

A little preview of the map

A little preview of the map

The satellite view on its side offers a more global management of events. It is on this that you discover the main points of interest of the Great Dog, such as mines, ports or enemy camps. This is also where you plan the movement of your squads and launch various operations. It is regularly said that time is money, and the maxim is especially true in Jagged Alliance. Operations are activities to which you assign your mercenaries. It includes reconnaissance activities for the collection of information, the care of injuries incurred in combat, the maintenance or improvement of your equipment, but also the formation of militia (which help to repel the enemy when he seeks to retake the areas you control) and the training of your soldiers. All of this takes time while your squad is immobilized. However, this is a step that should not be overlooked: injuries reduce the mercenary’s maximum hit points and poorly maintained equipment can jam at the worst possible moment. Or break. The game is therefore also about finding a balance between the time we spend preparing and the time we have left before having to put our hands in the wallet to renew the contracts of our mercs.

Old school

The game is therefore very complete and interesting to play even if some black points stand out along the length. Let’s start with the interface. Voluntarily old school to pay homage to the series, it sometimes turns out to be inefficient in use. As Mercenaries, your team is very dependent on the gear they find in the field while your inventory is limited by the strength of your characters. The inventory is therefore individualized and quickly becomes a pain to manage. In the same vein, some options are somewhat hidden behind sub-menus and would have benefited from being more easily accessible.

You can tinker with your weapons

The readability of the action is another point where I think the game can do better. The game makes the most of its graphics engine and often displays a good amount of detail on the map. But this is sometimes paid for in terms of readability and it is not always very easy to determine the areas of coverage. A problem that also arises with the lines of fire. We certainly have an indicator that tells us when traveling, but we often only discover the relevance of the line of fire once we have arrived at our destination. This is especially glaring during indoor fights where many obstacles or different floors can only leave room for grazing shots. Finally, I would have liked a little more modernism in the management of infiltration, with the possibility of moving the corpses of those who we manage to eliminate discreetly.

Was it worth the wait after all?

But despite these few points, Jagged Alliance 3 proves to be a worthy heir to the license that makes us forget the failure that was Jagged Alliance: Rage!. Finally, one would like to say. The challenge is there, even without activating the permanent death options which make the game even more difficult, in solo or in co-op. A great success for Haenimont Games therefore.

Test conducted by Grim on PC using a copy provided by the publisher.

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