Verfasst: 11. Oktober 2014
I am a long time fan of turn-based strategy games. A lot of long-time strategy fans are going to be attracted by the "Jagged Alliance" name. Unfortunately, some business major put the skin of that respected brand onto a low-quality "pay-to-win" money sink. I expected a turn-based combat game similar to either the old X-Com: U.F.O. Defense or Final Fantasy Tactics. Instead I found a superficially similar game where you constantly face massive waves of enemies that just mindlessly charge you, pumping rounds into your face as fast as they can. When you're grinding small amounts of in-game money per mission to buy slightly better in-game equipment the other part of the title starts to hang in your mind.
When I see the word "online" added to the end of a known title I expect a faithful installment of that series which has been retooled to interact with other players in an online world. Instead I'm spending hours re-playing the same missions against the same bad artificial intelligence in an attempt to earn as much loot as possible. Jagged Alliance is not supposed to be Diablo III. All of the best qualities of the old Jagged Alliance series are brought down hard by the worst qualities of a "pay to win" game... but you're not even playing with other human players. The online part of this game is the leader-boards, the in-game chat window, the ability to form clans, or the ability to play in a segregated online arena against other human players; players skip the grinding with real money.
This game is about forcing you to mindlessly grind the same missions over again in the hopes you'll spend real money to get the in-game money faster. There are many hours required to build up your mercenary company's money just to keep your mercenaries employed (they require in-game paychecks based on weekly real-time deadlines). If you want to expand the base of operations, improve their gear, or even just replace the ammunition they're using, you had better have a few hours every night for a few dozen replays of the same mission. Keeping your head above water, let alone earning enough money to actually upgrade equipment, means a lot of time... way too much time.
As you eek out an existence the game constantly reminds you that you can buy more money using real cash via Steam. I can't imagine anybody wanting to. I spend hundreds of hours on a game before I stop playing, but this one's just a treadmill that never really changes. A few times I found what looked like expensive weapons, but nobody in my mercenary company could use them. Buying one in-game costs more than my company earns in a week, but the rare drops can only be sold to the compter-run shop, which doesn't buy them for much more than the "junk" rarity gear that usually drops. Even a first aid kit costs thousands (or even tens of thousands) of in-game dollars; not that they're worth using, anyway. There is no wound to justify spending so much. Every level-up, every out-levelled piece of equipment, every paycheck, everything you do costs a little bit of that all-precious money... money you are reminded you could get instantly with a real money purchase.
That's all this game is: a money sink. There are paid expansions, too, but I don't intend to waste more hours grinding through them. This could have been a great opportunity for a simple cooperative clan-based PvE or PvP game funded by a mix of real money permanently unlocking your company's mercenaries plus some purely cosmetic gear. Those sorts of microtransactions are the way to keep a gaming community interested. Too bad this game became yet another missed opportunity.