With a plot that wouldn't feel out of place in an Expendables movie, in Jagged Alliance: Rage! you lead a team of mercenaries on a jungle island on a mission to take down a drug lord and his personal army who are quite busy killing kids and committing genocide.
Following on from the success of Xcom on console, there has been a spate of isometric turn-based tactics titles, and coming out at roughly the same time as the highly anticipated Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, this mid-budget latest instalment in the long-running Jagged Alliance franchise could find itself being a little overshadowed.
Rage! is a strategy RPG which offers a great amount of depth, so if you're a fan of the genre, there's certainly plenty of interest waiting to be discovered on this jungle-covered island. So, what do we have here and what sets it apart?
After a brief intro video in which a chopper goes down (it always happens in games), you get the option to choose two different mercs from a selection of six to take on your first mission. In true Jagged Alliance style, each of them has their own personality and comes with positive and negative attributes, meaning that you'll have to adapt your play-style depending on who you're controlling.
The positive attributes include things like having a bigger inventory, increased health, and better accuracy, while the negatives are often straight opposites of these as well as including things like taking damage from falling. It really did add an extra element of tactical planning and thought to the adventure, and it also means there's a little bit of replay value if you want to go back and play things with different characters.
After picking your heroes, you quickly get thrown in at the deep end and find yourself in a torture chamber to further add to the slightly cliched plot. There is some pretty hammy dialogue to get through before one of the scientists decides to defect and aid your escape, and this defector then basically helps you learn the ropes by guiding you to get your equipment back and commit your first kills. There seems to be quite the emphasis on stealth, and the triangle button helps you flick from run to sneak.
The scientist then helps you creep up behind two guards and - using your Austin Powers-esque 'judo chop' style ability - you kill them both. After that, you're able to loot two lockers for your stuff before rifling through the pockets of the corpses. Indeed, there seems to be too strong a need to go through the belongings of the recently deceased, as there you will find things like multitools to pick locked doors and extra bullets for your arsenal of weapons. You should also always look out for boxes and things on tables as you never know what you might find, although this kill and search element was a bit repetitive.
Your soldiers take turns and during the early part of the game you're mostly learning how to sneak past enemies. When it does come to combat, you can target different parts of the body such as the legs or the head, with different levels of damage depending on where your hits connect. You start off with a pistol with low ammo and pick up new guns as you find them, although you quickly learn that your fists and silent kills are some of your best early weapons.