Jagged Alliance 2: welcome to our tropical hideaway

, | Game diaries

A dictatorial queen has an iron grip on a small island in…um…actually, I have no idea. Not that it matters. Let’s say it’s in South Ameurafricasia and leave it at that. What does matter is that I’ve been given a fat contract and 32 grand to go in there and take Queen Deidranna out of power so the people of Arulco can be free at last.

This is a job for…the Dispensables.

At their disposal is the Jagged Alliance 2 v.1.13 “patch,” a user-created mod that adds new features, new tactics, and new guns. Boy howdy, does it add new guns.

After the jump, meet the Dispensables

The leader of the team is Jan Suzuki, a.k.a. “Mantis.” Jan’s specialty is in stealth and silent takedowns. With the right gear and experience, she’ll be an invisible assassin, but for now, she’s a pretty solid start to the team. She is, however, a loner, so I’ll want to get her on her own as soon as I think she can handle it.

Time to hire some contractors. At the Association for International Mercenaries, or A.I.M., I find an extensive database of potential teammates. The replay value of Jagged Alliance 2 comes largely from your choice of mercenaries, so in the interest of variety, I pick a couple of mercs I’ve never used before. I put in calls to Norma “Meltdown” Jessop, and Louisa “Buzz” Garneau.

Both Meltdown and Buzz seem a few sheets short of a bedroom set, (Buzz specifically has the “psychotic” trait,) but they’ve got the skills I need. Buzz has one of the best marksmanship stats in the game, so I’ll be relying on her early on to take out bad guys at a distance. Should any get too close, Meltdown will be waiting to blast them with her twin Colt .45s.

So I’ve got some excellent marksmen, and Meltdown’s explosives and heavy weapons expertise will come in handy. What I still don’t have is a mechanic, or a doctor. The Dispensables need someone who excels at both. The 1.13 patch lets you create up to 6 custom mercs using the I.M.P. system, which is honestly cheating a bit, but since 1.13 increases game difficulty in a number of other ways, it all tends to even out.

Enter Elijah Kurtz, a.k.a “Chopshop.” He’s got an uncanny ability to see how machines function, and his moderately psychotic personality led him to try out his skills on human anatomy as well. Luckily for his “patients,” he’s not half-bad. What he lacks are combat skills, but I’ve got enough fighters. For now.

With the team in place, the Dispensables chopper in to the town of Omerta. Buzz is eager to get to the combat.

I like that attitude. Buzz takes out the welcoming committee with a double-tap to the torso, and then she, Mantis, and Meltdown move out to dispatch the poorly-trained soldiers patrolling the town. Mantis checks out an abandoned building, while Meltdown and Buzz split to move around the walls, looking for hostiles.

Bingo. Buzz pokes her head out from around the corner to take potshots, Mantis takes cover in a doorway, and Meltdown hits the dirt behind a pile of rubble. Chopshop hides in a bathroom. Not much of a soldier, that one.

Buzz and Mantis are able to pick off most of the remaining enemies, but one tries to run after coming down with a case of shot-in-the-chest. Meltdown takes off running and guns him down as she rounds the corner.

Unfortunately, the pickings from the fight are slim. I get a few clips of 9×19 mm ammunition, and I realize at this point that none of my mercs have weapons that share the same ammunition type. That’s going to make things complicated.

Exploring the blasted ruins of Omerta, I meet Fatima, who leads the Dispensables to the rebel base nearby. The rebel leader, Miguel, informs me that Deidranna’s weakness is a single unshielded exhaust port at the end of a heavily-defended trench — I mean, he tells me of the horrors Deidranna has inflicted on the people of Arulco. Another rebel chimes in.

After that convincing bit of dialog, I’m able to recruit Ira to my team. She sucks right now, but her high wisdom stat means she learns quickly, and she can become a formidable merc if I baby her for a while. She offers to guide me to the town of Drassen. Uh, yeah, I have a map, Ira. I can see Drassen. It’s right there. Let’s hit the road.

Next time, trouble on the road to Drassen

Dufresne, known to his friends as Sam, lives and works in the Boston area as a game designer. His hobbies besides gaming include the guitar, LEGO, and the occasional regime change.