22 Jun 2009

Jagged Alliance 2: Isometric Masterpiece - First Contact

The team touched down on Arulcan soil at 0700 hours, rappelling from the aged Blackhawk and pounding their feet into the dirt as the air from the chopper's rotor blades rushed about the dilapidated homes that stood all around. Immediately they whipped their weapons from their backs and set to work, scoping for any signs of movement, checking for shadows behind the window panes of the nearest buildings. Any flicker of life could signal imminent death.

The chopper was making a terrific racket above them, but it eventually tilted forward like they do and flew off in a direction that may have been due SSW.

Flinch raised her hand and, in one swift flick of the wrist, made some sort of signal that meant they were all to keep low and take up forward positions by the nearest wall.

Steroid grunted and muttered something derogatory about 'Little Miss GI Jane' under his breath before following through with the orders. He sternly reminded himself that he could be court-marshalled for disobeying his superior officer. Everyone knew that and it was apparently a really bad thing to happen.

All right! Andy McNab, eat your fucking heart out!

Okay, I'll cut that nonsense out now, but it is extremely thrilling to write in such a way and you can't deny that it makes for engaging prose. Admittedly, my entire military knowledge is limited to several war movies and computer games, but I can really see why Tom Clancy and co have spent their entire lives knocking out this sort of shit. Right away I feel infinitely more positive about settling any problems I may have by shooting people in the face.

Indeed, it's put me in the perfect frame of mind to continue. So I will...

In reality, the four of them were standing like lemons at the edge of the entry sector and would have continued to do so if I hadn't told them to hunch down and hug the side of the nearest building. There's no sense of self-awareness or self-preservation with these guys. It's all player-controlled so I could have left them standing there until the sun set or they passed out from exhaustion and they wouldn't have been able to shit without my ordering them to do so.

Note: Shitting is not actually an aspect of gameplay.

It's important to remember that JA2 will always inform you of any enemies inside a sector, but unless you're defending you'll never be sure of exactly how many baddies you're likely to face. It could be two plebs with rusty slingshots or you could be facing a twenty-strong deathsquad. In this case I guessed it would be closer to the former instance - bar the slingshots. The game isn't known for giving the player an easy ride, but I couldn't imagine that I'd be thrown right into the eye of the storm from the off.


First contact came unexpectedly from the same doorway that my mercs were foolishly huddled around. The guy had probably been busy making his lunch when the helicopter appeared and he was now standing stock still in the doorway surrounded by what must have been the most unnerving scene he'd ever witnessed.

Instantly, the game snapped into turn-based-war-bastard mode and I handed all responsibility to Buzz.

It took one shot to the skull at point blank range to take him down. He exhaled as he dropped to the ground. The first kill had been handed to me on a plate. If the rest of them were this easy I'd be laughing.

I instantly sent Buzz up onto the roof and crawled her to the southern edge to scout for more. After another goon was spotted making his way carefully between two other buldings I realised the battle was pretty much over before it had even begun. The enemy were seemingly caught off-guard by our sudden arrival and Buzz appeared to be the most efficient gunwoman in the world. Hence...


No one else had a chance to react, not even on my side. The woman took each kill on the first shot from a decent distance. I could have kissed her, but the limitations of virtual reality denied me such actions.


A small boy and his mother appeared from one of the houses.

[At this point I'll take liberty in cutting a long story short because I'm aware that this first part of the diary may now be appearing to be more of a gamefaqs walkthrough than recounts of an exciting expedition.]

The woman - Fatima - led me to the rebel base in the neighbouring sector and I chatted to the leader after proving my worth with a signed letter from Enrico outlining my business. I've neglected to mention the basic story details and my reasons for setting out to liberate this nation so, in short, Queen Deidriana is the evil woman in power. She loathes her people and has subjected them to awful conditions after denying Enrico - my employer - the throne. Therefore, she needs to die. It's a simple setup. As Ira puts it:

Oh dear. Ira. I'd forgotten all about her. Aside from that excellent opening statement, everything Ira says and does following this is always irredeemably awful. I hate her - probably more than I should - but let's have a run through her profile to see why:


STRENGTHS: Shit all as far as I'm concerned.

INFO: Ira is of American nationality, presumably from somewhere on the east coast due to the irritating New Yorkian whine of her voice. She came to Arulco as an aid worker and now lingers around like an elephant's fart. The woman is a five-foot-tall bullet magnet. It's incredible, her ability to suck bullets in and throw out only useless moaning in exchange. She endears herself to no-one and shoots like an old lady. A hateful person.

And she is now my guide. I recruited her for free and now she shall lead me to Drassen, my next destination and a town that I've been instructed by the rebel leader to take from the Queen. Righty-ho. I'll take care not to let my despondency rub off on the team.

Next time: I'll cover more ground in less text now that the introductions are over. It's shooting and adventuring from hereon in.

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