Jagged Alliance: Back in Action - Shades of Red and Point Blank DLC09 Jan 2013 0
Downloadable Content or DLCs seem to be de rigueur for most PC games these days and the types of DLCs range from simple add-ons and weapon packs to what we used to call ?expansion packs?--expanding the original premise of the game considerably. Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, the top-down tactical mercenary game by bitComposer Games and Kalypso, has also stepped forward into the DLC market with two DLC titles: Shades of Red and Point Blank.
Both are stand-alone missions centered on preset teams of three mercenaries and both are available off of the Steam store for five dollars. In Shades of Red you take command of Shadow, Ivan, and?if you rescue her?Fox in a bunker-busting infiltration mission to stop the terrorist Silevic from threatening regional stability. Conversely, Point Blank is a sprawling urban warfare scenario where your team of Gus, Raven, and Scully has to fight through enemy units street by street to get to the kidnapped ambassador.
Playing through Shades of Red, I was immediately arrested by the difficulty of the actual situation. DLCs these days tend to fall into the trap of providing a simple ?extra? level. That is not the case with Shades of Red. Here is a true fortress. The difficulty in the various overlapping patrol zones, blind corners, and multiple directions where an enemy might find you delivers a level of difficulty higher than in the main game. If Deidranna's palace was like trying to break into a bank, Silevic's bunker is attempting to fight your way through the Death Star. Fans of the game will find ample weapons and material to come up with exciting ways of weaving through the various corridors of the bunker complex. Although it is five dollars for this roughly two hour DLC (depending greatly on your skill level), I would still say it is still worth the time if one wishes to find a true challenge to cap out his Jagged Alliance experience. This particular stage is most rewarding with Line of Sight added to truly add the unpredictability of corridor to corridor warfare.
Point Blank was a perfect complementary second offering. Point Blank is a gritty street to street and building to building affair on a beautiful tan swept urban landscape. This contrasts beautifully with the claustrophobic infiltration of Shades of Red and offers the player sufficient breathing room. As such, playing the two DLCs back to back doesn't feel tiring at all. Point Blank is also the longer of the two DLCs providing a surprisingly large amount of content for being identically priced as Shades of Red. The story also provides some background on the mercenaries you use, but, as always, most of the backstory is subsumed by the meticulous calculus of setting up favourable sniping positions and sneaking up behind patrols to hack them to pieces. Perhaps the most interesting part was splitting up Scully from the rest of your team and placing an axe close to where he starts to jumpstart his axe murdering spree.
It is this synergy between the two DLCs that makes the combined experience refreshing and worth the monetary investment for any Jagged Alliance: Back in Action fan. They provide something greater than just simple ?add-ons? especially in the areas of difficulty. Although the combined amount of money spent per hour is higher than it should be, it is compensated by their originality and exigency as well as the diversity to be found between the two of them.
About James Tanaleon
James Tanaleon grew up in the sunny suburban sprawl of Orange County, California and has had a long history of console and computer gaming thanks to his avid gaming father and his tech savvy friends. While receiving his education from both the University of California in Irvine and Franciscan University in Ohio?graduating with a Bachelor's Degree in Western and World Literature?he never lost his enjoyment for games. During this time he also cultivated his knowledge in music, history, religion, and international studies. He currently works in Orange County as lead writer for the startup game company Diecast Studios LLC and produces freelance writing on the side. James once served as editor-in-chief of Paradox Interactive Forum's monthly magazine The AARlander, and has written over a thousand pages of after action reports in his preferred genres of grand strategy and RPG.
Forum username: Aristocrat