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Jagged Alliance 1 (My opinion, what's yours ?)


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Recently finished Jagged Alliance 1 (Gold) from Stream (btw you can find me there as LoboNocturno, who wants to add me up) back to back (once in normal and once in hard). As i mentioned previously in some other topic, i never really played Jagged Alliance 1 still late 2022, the announcement of Jagged Alliance 3 brought me lots of courage & excitement to play while we are still on the wait since almost 25 years. I played Jagged Alliance 2 right on the time around mid 1999s, even before the game was released, i played it on a demo CD that i got from a Gaming Magazine, which impressed me alot.


But finally i got my hands on Jagged Alliance 1, so i want to share my opinion about it and compare the pros & cons with Jagged Alliance 2.


First of all its a nice retro game, i mean for that time (1994) it was probably 1 of the best turn based games around, but playing it today made me felt somehow odd as how pixeled the graphics (yes graphics matters somehow, not everything though), after playing a hour or 2 was more then enough for me, it was eye scratching from the bird eye view.

The game mechanics are also totally outdated, the movements feels after a while totally robotic, the battle system is also very annoying after a while (especially in hard), you cant take proper covers (only to stand in front of a tree or wall), cant go on your knees or prove either like in Jagged Alliance 2. The enemies hit rate % is pretty high and you will miss quiet often which made it to me very unpleasant to be honest.


The mercs also rarely throw in a speech, i felt like the character that throwed in the most speech was the native guide Elio of all (if we dont count Jack Richards). After playing it for sometime it can get really dull (speaking of today standards).


The weapons selection is also pretty poor, you got like 6 or 7 different weapons and the M-16 is surely the best weapon of the game that you can get only towards end of the game, before that the M-14 is pretty much the best weapon you can use and the 12g Rifle (its not a rifle but a shotgun though). You can improve your weapons combining with "chuck of steel" which you also dont find a lot in the game. I didnt used the metal detector a lot though (dont wanted to scan the entire map with it), guess its possible to find some useful stuff with it if you want spend more time. 


Then the time limit each day you get from 7 am to 7 pm also annoyed me, when you are back in real time searching the sector the time can go down really fast and also once you are in a sector where the battle is going (that lasts longer then you expect) once the time hits 7 pm, it will give you a automatic retreat which will end up been wounded or even death.


Also some of the notes you can find for shipment ambushes and all are pretty confusing, i had to look up to Jagged Alliance Wiki to be honest. But its worth getting those shipments to get better firepower, otherwise its rare to find good stuff. It was also a hustle me to open the crates and the doors, if you dont have a merc with good stats its simply impossible to open those doors. Best crate opener was by far Ivan from my experience since he had high strength (and his model had a sturdy look, which i think played a impact).


Played the game 2 times from start to finish as i mentioned once in normal and later on in hard, on hard it was really annoying imo, not due its very hard but the game mechanics overall as you cant take even proper cover and you get hit steadily from the enemies and keep missing many turns. Took in my both journeys Ivan, Fidel & Hector, mainly Ivan & Fidel as the assaulter and Hector as helping hand (the stats also are developing way way slower then in JA2) even end of the game Hector wasnt improved that significantly like a average or low stat merc would become almost a elite towards the end phase in JA2. Had Vinny as well on my both runs as a mechanic, later on recruited Vicki for Vinny and in the final also hired Mike for a day for addinal help. From JA1 Hector is by far my favourite merc that is not included on JA2, a average merc but for sake he is from Venezuela it made me proud to have him on my team, wish he were in JA2 (only his pic in the mercenary history is there) as well with more speeches. I also noticed Fidel`s voice is somehow different then in JA2, i liked his voice more in JA1 then in JA2 (a lil annoying).


Guess i gave much more cons then pros overall for Jagged Alliance 1 but dont get me wrong, its still not a bad game but we are talking also here a game from 30 years ago but in todays standards it just doesnt bring the expectations.


If you are a hardcore Jagged Alliance fan and didnt played it as yet, i would recommend to play it at least for once if you have time and yea it took my 3 months finishing it 2 times. 

But to be very honest there is worlds of differences with Jagged Alliance 2 (if you think JA1 may is also similar, dont get disappointed) and the time gap between the 2 games its just 4 years. So they did really a impressive job with it. Jagged Alliance 2 was the main game anyway that we fallen in love with so its normal after waiting almost 25 years we expect more improvements from Jagged Alliance 3.


Also played briefly JA1 Deadly Games but didnt really liked it, a bit improvement to JA1 but the turn limited missions were not fun at all to me. By the way am playing currently Jagged Alliance 2 Wildfire, its simply much more relieving to play it, also significantly harder then the original JA2, i feel like in each sector are at least 25 enemies.



Let me share in here also some pictures of my Jagged Alliance 1 journey.














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When you say 'Stream', do you mean Steam? I saw you mention Stream in another thread, which nobody responded to.


I never played JA1 beyond the demo. At the time, I was too busy playing X-COM 1 and 2. The demo left me feeling unimpressed. I can't remember exactly why I didn't like it but it felt clunky, crude and paled in comparison to the X-COM games. I certainly liked the modern day setting and felt that there was definitely the beginnings of a good game. However, the mechanics were inferior to X-COM for me and I just felt it was amateurish. That is why JA2 was such a surprise for me.

One thing you mentioned was that the M16 was the dominant end game gun in JA1. The same thing almost applies with (the base game) JA2 as well. The Canadian C7 was one of the best assault rifles and I would end up equipping most of my mercs with the C7, if they weren't taking the Steyr AUG A1 or the G11 instead. Those that were equipped with assault rifles and not something else, that is.

Of course, JA2 also had Rocket Rifles with fingerprint IDs that outclassed everything. However, other than my first play-through of the game, with the Sci-fi mode on, I never went back to them.

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@Solaris_Wave Oppps exactly "Steam" lol.


Its understandable, i mean even way before the times i used to play Jagged Alliance in late 90s and early 2000s, i did checked Jagged Alliance 1 but it felt super outdated against JA2 so i never had the eager to play it until recent time, so i most definitely recommend to play it if you have time for it but like i said even if you dont play it, you would not miss much either based from the story, as the 2 games are not depending to each other except Hamous appears in JA2 as a Metaviran.


The old standard M-16 doesnt even exist in the original JA2 but you have the "Colt Commando" like a smaller version of M-16 was also counted just as a submachinegun instead of assault rifle, it was more a weapon you used 1/3 of the game.

Back in JA2 Wildfire you have more weapon selections, there you got the Colt M4 which got (damage : 36 & range : 32) or the Colt M16A2 with (damage : 37 & range : 42) guess you mean this 1 as end game weapon.

So in the original game it doesnt even exist if we dont count the Cold Commando which is just a early game weapon but the Colt M16A2 you get in Wildfire is most definitely 1 of the best rifles in the game, probably there is few more rifles still ahead. You can also mount more stuff on your assault rifle then in JA1, especially the grenade launcher played a important role.

Oh yes the high-tech Rocket Rifle was the strongest of all i think with fingerprint, guess it was available only in the sci-fi mode? But to be honest it killed the fun of the real weapons in the end game as you said it gave us a feeling this is the most superior weapon of all, especially with its long sniper range. If you play sci-fic mode i would recommend having the rocket rifles, better the auto rocket rifle that can also shot in burst, especially against the alien roaches its very useful.

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Some people refer to the Colt Commando as a sub-machine gun while others refer to it as a carbine. Certainly it was towards an SMG in size but there weren't that many short-barrel assault rifles during the time that the Commando was conceived. It had also gone through various changes and even had various names that I still get confused over as to which came first (and would have to look it up again). You will see various designations such as XM177, CAR-15 and Colt Commando that all amount to the same thing: making an effective, shortened, handier version of the M16 for closer ranges and environments.

There are actually so many varieties of AR-15, whether civilian or military, that have been used over the years, it can be exhausting to see. It isn't just a case of having the M16, followed by the M16A1, A2, A3 and A4.

JA2's C7 rifle is the Canadian version of the M16, with the C8 being their M4. Modifications include automatic fire selection, better adaptation to extreme cold weather, better barrel and lots of other little changes.

I think the Rocket Rifle was the developers being inspired by the guns from the movies, Demolition Man and Eraser. Anything using Coilgun/Gauss Gun or Railgun technology advanced to be small enough to work as a rifle-sized weapon and be powerful enough. Railguns are being tested now but are big. Gauss Gun prototypes are rifle-sized but bulky, fragile and nowhere near fast enough to do as much damage as conventional bullets. Things are improving all the time though.

Edited by Solaris_Wave
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Great review @LoboNocturno

I never played JA or DG to any great lenght (mostly on friends pc). But I agree with your assessment. Myself back then I played Wages of War (mentioned it in another thread) wich had a much more serious tone. My greatest grief with that game was the limited amount of voices (only 1 male and 1 female generic voice set for all characters). 

While there is (by todays standard) only 4 years between JA1 and JA2 that was ALOT of of time and difference in technology and processing power back then, games were also developed in a much shorter timespan. The studios mostly went by what they thought would work and what would be a cool game. 

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Well yea the icons are surely a lil weird, its surely not huge but zoomed too close, also when you combine magnum with chunk of steel, it gets a longer barrel with a more powerful shot.


BTW did anyone noticed, in JA3 the first time all of the weapons will be looking to the right direction, which will have a lil weird feeling for some players, we got use to it on left side.

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Not reading all that, but i do agree with you that it was a game for it's time. Today, JA2 surpasses it by a lot, and even JA2 is ready for a big suprasser. JA1 was fun when it came out... and it's still a good retro grame experience.. but i don't think i could play it through either. I'd have to stick with JA2, too many upgrades that makes the game flow much better.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ah, JA1 will always have a special place in my heart. It was one of the first games I ever played once I got my first (used) PC back in 1997. As I was but a kid back then, and could not understand English (beyond a few basic words - let's just say that the only merc I could fully understand was Ivan 🙂 ), needless to say, I was not good at the game and would fail after capturing no more than a dozen sectors or so (either getting killed by the enemy or running out of funds - and it was the old version, so you could not save during combat, if I recall correctly). Still, the colorful characters with animated portraits made quite an impression, so I played it many times without finishing the game once (certainly, not having many other games helped). 

The first time I finished JA1 was around 2008, and it was a mix of nostalgia (remembering how some of the JA2 characters were in JA1, and later returning to JA2 to read the AIM alumni section to learn of the fates of those that do not appear in the game) and of frustration (similar to what you described, and I imagine similar to the frustration felt by some people who would these days play JA2, and to a lesser extent JA3, after getting used to the more recent developments in the genre). I have finished JA1 again last year (after seeing that JA3 was in development I figured it'd be a good idea to replay all the games in the series up to UB) - and gained a somewhat different appreciation thereof. That is, all your points are valid - and it certainly shows its age (the graphics certainly don't look too good, but graphics were never a strong point of the series, same goes for JA2, which was graphically unimpressive even for 1999), yet after finishing JA2 so many times, it felt like a fresh challenge, and also helped reassess some of the more questionable choices of JA2. In a sense, the fact that it is more limited also makes it more realistic (of course, some things, like shooting from different positions, and non turn-based mode when not engaging the enemy should have been there), and you don't feel quite as overpowered as you do in JA2 (especially towards the second half of JA2).


A few examples: enemies are smarter and will give you a harder time; the inventory is more realistic and you can't carry around the contents of a small apartment around, no matter how strong you are; you can't aim at specific body parts - so you can't just spam headshots as was so convenient in JA2; you can't climb roofs - while I loved the function in JA2, it was overpowered and unrealistic (so many convenient roofs onto which you can simply climb with a small jump, and most buildings happen to be one-storied...), especially combined with the advantages of headshots and pretty stupid enemy AI; there is a feeling of scarcity so that you have to actually think more before you shoot (especially early in the game), as you can't just buy ammo and weapons, which, to be honest, is more realistic considering you're on a faraway island etc. 


So I would encourage those who haven't played it to give it a go - it's a nice challenge (especially if you're looking for one), plus you get to see how some of the JA2 characters were back in the olden days, and understand the evolution of the series a bit better.

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JA1 was too primitive for me but that was because I was spoilt by the original X-COM. That said, I did like how it aimed to create a modern day, non-Sci-Fi setting. Turn-based squad games at the time (and there weren't many) were usually sci-fi based. Before X-COM, there was Laser Squad which had a mix of ballistic and energy weapons. The first mission ('Assassins') is what could be considered close enough to modern day as you had to use ballistic weapons and attack human enemies inside a large house. The scenery was destructible too.

The only dedicated modern day game (as far as I am aware) before JA1 was Sabre Team. I found that quite boring to play. I didn't play it much and we are talking 30 years ago, so my memory of it is hazy. It felt slow to play as well (ironic being a turn-based game) but I remember the maps being large and empty. The turn-based animations and movement were slow as well. I can't remember much about the enemy AI and how good it was but I always remember the fact that the developers were fans of RoboCop as they named one of the enemies, C. Boddiker.

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Laser Squad was my introduction to this genre and I played it first on an Amstrad CPC 464 and later on the Commodore Amiga. I remember it being both great and frustrating in equal measure. Great in it being revolutionary for me and having lots of flexibility. Frustrating in when your soldiers would miss every shot and then get accurately blown away by the enemy the following turn. Or, would not only miss what they were aiming at but also insist on firing that high-explosive rocket right into the wall next to them and blow themselves up.

I remember all of the missions with the standard game but had to Google the exact names of missions #3 and #5 again. The first and second missions were my favourite ('The Assassins' and 'Moonbase Assault' respectively). I found mission #3 ('Rescue From The Mines') a little boring visually and mission #5 ('Paradise Valley') pretty hard.

Mission #4 ('The Cyber Hordes') was tough due to the Battle Droid you had to face. The other robot enemies were nothing compared to that guy. Well armoured and with an explosive cannon, if you didn't stop him by surprise ambush, he could systematically blow your entire squad away. If you took too long to destroy all the machines, they could get a second Battle Droid.

I remember the Amiga version not only naturally looking better than the Amstrad version (16-bit vs. 8-bit) but also I think that due to the way the explosions were portrayed on the Amstrad (dots expanding from the point of impact, compared to a scalable bitmap image of an explosion), that the explosions for the Amstrad version had a wider radius. There were many times where using a rocket launcher or grenade seemed to kill not only the target but also the user. Then again, it might just be that, being a young kid, and never playing this type of game before, I just wasn't good at it.

Apparently, according to Wikipedia (which I used to refresh my memory on what some of the missions were called), there was an expansion with two extra missions. I never got to see those and I didn't know they existed. They were called 'The Stardrive' and 'Laser Platoon'.

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  • 2 months later...

Few clarifications about Jagged Alliance 1:

  • You can crouch, but when you shoot you stand up. Ability to stay crouched while shooting was added in Deadly Games.
  • Elio is the first native guide offered by Jack. If you "dispose" of him, Jack will offer better guides, one of them is Hamous. Hamous was then added to AIM roster in Deadly Games (along with 9 new mercs).
  • Using chunk of steel changes the weapon icon, for handguns it makes the barrel longer.
  • Use crowbars to open crates (and doors), I think health is the most important stat here. Also pay attention to the stamina, use canteens to restore stamina.

I played the game during Summer of 1995, I believe it was released in Europe around that time. At that point I was yet to play UFO: Enemy Unknown, so I really liked the squad management in this game. Overall it feels more like a struggle for survival. There are fewer weapons, but I don't really have any problems with pacing since new mercs are also unlocked based on your reputation and Jack keeps giving you new quests.

Enemy can easily get interrupts from windows and when opening a door, so you should use wall probe to scout ahead, this also reveals some enemy dialogue you wouldn't otherwise hear.

Fighting only during daylight can feel a bit limiting, but if you've ever been to a jungle you know you wouldn't want to stay there during the dark.

And the snakes/eels are a bit too harsh of a dice roll.

I also played DG quite extensively, it's a stand alone expansion that removes the strategic layer and replaces it with a campaign that's a series of scenarios. You can also create these scenarios and campaign yourself and they also added multiplayer. Instead of daylight, you have a set turn limit and no free roam. The patch extends the turn limit for the campaign and ruins the balance since originally you weren't supposed to have time to collect all the loot.

Mickey also makes an appearance by occasionally trying to sell you items.

Multiplayer had support for 4 players, but due to the limitations a scenario could only contain 4 x 8 characters, AI or player (+ 8 non hostile npc/civilians). Meaning that you couldn't create a coop scenario for 4 players. And for 2 player coop you would only have max 16 enemies, which can be quite trivial for a single player let alone for two players.

PVP mode could be interesting, but it really dependent on the mission. Rarely other player could kill all 8 mercs of the other team within a time limit, and the interrupt system was at times very annoying when you have several mercs waiting and none of them get an interrupt when the opponent appears.

Anyways, I feel very nostalgic about these games. Crafting molotov cocktails, shouting at the screen trying to rally my troops to get the job done, seeing in horror a grenade fly in the air only to let it land in the middle of my mercs and not explode, taking turns falling down while walking on ice, tracking down final enemy from the tracks in snow or blood stains in terrain...

Today they are quite quick to pick up and play due to the simplicity, but overall might not offer enough (especially DG) to keep the interest in playing them longer. I would still recommend people try the first one.

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