Jagged Alliance 3 Review – Exploring Tactical RPG Mastery

Jagged Alliance 3 marks a triumphant return to the cherished tactical strategy genre, reviving the legacy of its predecessors while introducing a plethora of modern enhancements. Set against the backdrop of a turbulent fictional country teetering on the brink of chaos, players are tasked with assembling a diverse team of mercenaries, each with their own unique skills and personalities. Jagged Alliance 3 brings a refreshing revival to the classic turn-based strategy genre, offering a unique and engaging gameplay experience.

Restoring the Ancient Way of Action Point

The game challenges the standard turn-based strategy gameplay by restoring the ancient way of action points. With well over 100 accessible tiles, each featuring its own custom 3D battle map, Jagged Alliance 3 provides a fresh tactical experience that keeps players engaged and immersed in the gameplay. This approach not only challenges traditional turn-based strategy mechanics but also offers a modern twist that enhances the overall gaming experience.

Diverse Cast of Characters

One of the game’s standout features is its diverse cast of characters, each with unique abilities and personalities. Players have the opportunity to shape their skills and abilities through use, creating a dynamic and personalized gameplay experience. By borrowing from modern designs and integrating them into the game, Jagged Alliance 3 presents a compelling mix that adds depth to character development and strategic decision-making.

Expert reviewer Katharine noted that while it may seem odd to provide detailed information except for exact chance-to-hit percentages, she found herself favoring intuition over specific numbers during gameplay. This nuanced approach to character development adds an extra layer of complexity to the game, further enhancing its tactical RPG mastery.

The Pinnacle of Tactical Combat

Jagged Alliance 3 sets the bar high for tactical combat, offering a diverse and immersive experience that has garnered praise from both players and critics alike.

The game’s combat system has been highly praised for its real tactical challenge and enjoyable moments of triumph. It seamlessly integrates elements from XCOM, Xenonauts, and Phoenix Point into a consistent package that works exceptionally well. The action points system provides players with a high level of freedom in spending their turns, while the ability to target various enemy body parts adds an extra layer of strategy to the gameplay. Additionally, the wide variety of weapons and explosives behave differently, offering unique tactical opportunities in varied environments such as crowded towns or hostile swamps.

Balancing Simulation-Heavy Approach and Modern Systems

Jagged Alliance 3 successfully balances a simulation-heavy approach with modern systems, resulting in consistent and effective tactical combat. The game’s impressive production not only revives the classic series but also does justice to it in a more modern style. With expertly converted 3D combat environments and rich strategic layers, Jagged Alliance 3 offers an endlessly entertaining experience that captivates players for approximately 50 hours of gameplay. The game’s ability to immerse players in the vibrant yet non-existent nation of Grand Chien further enhances its appeal, making it a compelling entry in the series.

Exploring the RPG Layers

Jagged Alliance 3 offers a deep and immersive RPG experience, characterized by fully realized party members and strategic non-linear gameplay.

The game’s mercenaries are brought to life with unique abilities, personalities, and richly detailed overall strategy. The characters’ explosive personalities are as captivating as the grenades on their belts, adding depth to the immersive world of espionage and intrigue. Each mercenary has distinct responses in conversations with NPCs, making them stand out as individuals and contributing to the game’s narrative richness. The living world of Grand Chien is convincingly real, with mercs who have known each other for years, resulting in engaging squad interactions that add layers of depth to the gameplay experience.

Strategic and Non-Linear Gameplay

Jagged Alliance 3 presents an explorable open world with various strategic concerns, offering players a myriad of combat options and in-depth squad customization. The game’s non-linear approach introduces narrative choices that can significantly impact the player’s situation, creating a dynamic and ever-evolving gaming experience. Players must navigate through a living world where events unfold regardless of their actions, adding an element of unpredictability rarely seen in open-world games. Additionally, managing the team’s funds adds another layer of strategy without overwhelming the focus on storytelling and action.

The game’s management aspect is both enjoyable and crucial for success, allowing players to make critical decisions about hiring mercenaries based on their current situation while maintaining a satisfying level of complexity in overall strategy.

The game has made commendable efforts to move beyond traditional design, particularly in its tactical combat mechanics. By seamlessly integrating elements from acclaimed titles such as XCOM, Xenonauts, and Phoenix Point, Jagged Alliance 3 offers a consistent and engaging gameplay experience that sets it apart within the genre. Additionally, the game’s narrative premise of rescuing the president of the fictional West African nation of Grand Chien adds depth and urgency to the overall storytelling.

While Jagged Alliance 3 excels in many aspects, there are areas that warrant improvement. Tonality and UI issues have been acknowledged as potential drawbacks, impacting the overall user experience. Additionally, some players have noted that the humor in the game feels dated, potentially detracting from its immersive qualities. Furthermore, feedback suggests that the nation setting of Grand Chien may be underdeveloped, leaving room for further exploration and depth.

Jagged Alliance 3 on Steam Deck – Optimized settings

The game has been optimized for the Steam Deck, featuring a dedicated graphical preset that ensures a smooth gaming experience. Key settings include:

  • Antialiasing: FSR 2.0 Quality mode enhances visual clarity.
  • Resolution: Adjusted for quality, with a focus on maintaining a balance between performance and battery life.
  • Shadows and Object Detail: Lowering these settings helps in conserving battery life while ensuring the game remains visually appealing.
  • View Distance: Set to medium, optimizing visibility without overburdening the system.

For those seeking to maximize framerate, disabling shadows can significantly boost performance, making a stable 40 FPS achievable even in complex maps. This adjustment, however, alters the game’s aesthetic.

Controller Support and Readability

Jagged Alliance 3 boasts full controller support, making it accessible on the Steam Deck. Although adapting to the controls may require some time, the game is designed to be fully playable with the Deck’s built-in controller, offering a seamless experience for tactical RPG enthusiasts.

One notable challenge is the game’s text and icon size, which can be difficult to read on the Steam Deck’s compact screen. This issue may affect gameplay, as the game relies heavily on text and icons for command inputs and game information.

Elevating the Tactical RPG Experience

Jagged Alliance 3 stands as a testament to the continuous improvement within the tactical RPG genre, offering satisfaction in every mission and providing viable playstyles and squad customization. The inclusion of a drop-in/drop-out co-op mode for two players further enhances the game’s appeal, allowing for collaborative gameplay experiences that elevate the overall tactical RPG experience. With its innovative features and engaging gameplay mechanics, Jagged Alliance 3 sets a high standard for the genre, ensuring that players can find fulfillment in diverse playstyles and enjoy customizable squad dynamics.

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