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Posted on Dec 18, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Brigade E5 New Jagged Union – Game Review (PC)

By Larry Levandowski

Passed Inspection: Turn-based squad gunfights that are full of innovation, detail, and suspense.

Failed Basic: Role-playing campaign game that takes too long to get going. Spotty mission design is lackluster and sometimes boring. .

Strategy First’s Brigade E5 New Jagged Union is an RPG with innovative squad level combat wrapped in a lackluster, clunky role-playing campaign. Gunfights, using a wide variety of the best modern weapons, are what this game really excels at portraying. These deadly brawls are turn-based, finely detailed affairs that are almost contemplative in nature. Twitch jockeys looking to exercise their reflexes will find nothing of interest in this game. For those who enjoy the breathing space offered by turns however, the battles have enough excitement to keep the player coming back for more; even if they have to wade through a sometime tedious campaign to get there. Overall, Brigade E5 is like how infantrymen describe war, long periods of tedium and marching around, punctuated by moments of adrenaline soaked terror and excitement.

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The game’s story is very similar to its spiritual predecessor, Jagged Alliance, published by Talonsoft. Brigade E5 takes place in a fictional tropical country called Palimero. Three factions, the Government, the Rebels and a smuggling cartel are fighting for control of the hearts, minds and bank accounts of Palimero’s populace. The player controls a small squad of up to six mercenaries doing work for the highest bidder.

The game starts in typical RPG fashion by the player selecting one of six different mercenaries to play. After a brief character creation sequence, the player is dropped unceremoniously into the jungles of Palimero. From there, the character roams the countryside, attempting to scrape out a living by performing missions for the locals and the warring factions.

The campaign takes a long time to get going. It will probably be three or four missions before a player can afford to buy anything more than a pistol. In the meantime they have to fend off frequent attacks by bandits on Palimero’s dangerous roads. After six or seven missions, the player will probably be able to afford hiring another mercenary. Once the game gets to this point, gunfights with a well-equipped team are worth the price of admission.

The campaign game is stock 3rd person RPG. Strategic movement is over a map of Palimero .Terrain-like roads and forests affect movement speed, and even when taking the roads, it can take several game days to traverse the map. As squads move toward towns, bases and other points of interest, they can enter the detailed view of the sector.

Entering a sector brings the squad into a 3D tactical view of the location. Each character in the squad is depicted in 3D wearing, or carrying the actual items that the mercenary is equipped with; Uzi SMG slung on one shoulder, backpack, holding an automatic shotgun for example. This is a nice touch that adds to the game experience.

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