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Review: Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge - PC

by Steven Williamson on 18 June 2009, 16:19

Tags: Kalypso Media, PC, Strategy

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Gameplay Impressions

What do we like?
The streamlined interface makes menu navigation and action selection very simple, allowing you to concentrate solely on what you need to do rather than how you need to do it. In general, the quality of presentation and production is impressive, with detailed character models, excellent animation and a good variety of different terrains and detailed locations to battle across.

There's plenty of depth to the gameplay with an enjoyable array of pre-mission micro-management actions to get stuck into, including hiring and firing from a wide variety of mercenaries, training, assigning specialist skills and weapon modifications. The Global map view provides a clear strategic overview of the battlefield and is a strong hub from where you can command your troops.

In combat, the camera controls work well giving you a close up and immersive view of the action. In addition to some impressive destructible environments, there's some good audio work on the battlefield that lends in hand in creating an authentic war-time atmosphere.

What don’t we like?
The omission of cut-scenes means that you have to rely on reams of text, which often take the form of emails, to follow the narrative. With Russian developer GFI at the helm, it’s clear that their translator was having a bad day when working on Hired Guns. Poor spelling and grammar errors make it difficult to really enjoy or get immersed in the story. The majority of the time we didn’t have a clue why we were carrying out missions.

The combat is also far too difficult. This is partly because the transition between real-time and turn-based mode is so unpredictable. You wander around in real-time mode and you never know when you’re going to stumble across a rebel group or get ambushed. This can often mean that you’re not equipped for the situation, or you’ve split your mercenaries up. The fact that the rebels will outnumber you on most occasions anyway is extremely frustrating. They always have the upper edge.

Balancing issues during battle and the way that action points (AP's) are confusingly distributed doesn't help matters at all. First up, there’s no way of knowing how accurate you’re shot will be. You can be standing right up close to a rebel pointing an assault rifle to his stomach but still miss, yet you can be yards away with a pistol and get a direct hit. It was a bad decision not to include some form of range meter or damage predictor. It makes a mockery out of the whole AP system and makes fighting complete guess work. On the other hand, the over-powered enemy A.I. will quite happily pepper you with bullets on each of its turns. As such, combat can be very frustrating, not to mention extremely difficult.

There are also too many different factors that can affect your AP, including how far you are away from a rebel when you’re shooting and which weapon you’re firing. Just when you think you’ve mastered the AP system, another variable is thrown in to confuse you. When choosing your tactics, you often end up guessing how many points you’re going to need. That really shouldn't be the case.

Final Thoughts
There are plenty of good ideas in Hired Guns Jagged Edge, but most haven't been implemented very well. Guesswork is a core part of the gameplay, which certainly doesn't appeal to us. If you're patient enough to try and master the turn-based combat you might get some satisfaction out of beating the very tough opposition, but we can't imagine many people hanging around to find out.

Final Verdict : 5/10

HEXUS Forums :: 1 Comment

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Ouch - not very favourable review of a cult classic. I don't quite remember the JA1 and JA2 even though I did finish them both. Did they suffer from the mentioned issues (no distance based accuracy indicator, confusing AP system), or did they somehow managed to break what used to work?