Oldschool gamers will remember the Jagged Alliance series as being a popular, intensive experience as you lead a pack of mercenaries through a series of dangerous missions. The second game in the series had you leading your squad through the land of Arulco in an effort to dislodge the brutal dictactor Deidranna. After many problems with funding, Talonsoft eventually folded and a successor to build a cult-followed game wasn’t found. Now, we have a continuation in Jagged Alliance: Back In Action – but where will it take fans of the series? The answer, of course, is right back to Arulco.

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action is a remake of the second game and all of its expansions, with the main objective being to to fix its weak points and have an entirely new graphical engine.

In the released developer diaries, the new producer of the game, bitComposer Games explains that a 3D overhaul is going to do great things for the series:

“In Jagged Alliance: Back in Action, the game world will be represented entirely in 3D. The aim is to achieve a plastic, multi-layered and realistic look. First, the level designers model and texture the terrain and use an array of tools to raise or lower the ground surface to create a dune in a desert landscape or a river bed. The ground surface is then textured and is built up using several texture layers.”

While you don’t often hear plastic used to describe realistic looks, keep in mind that bitComposer is a German company. It’ll be an interesting juxtaposition to the 2D Tilted Sky View of the original game, in which a lot of visuals in the game had to be simplified so that they’d be easily recognizable – enemies wearing different-colored muscle shirts so that you could tell how skilled they were, for instance.

That’s one of the features that is a thing of the past with the new 3D engine taking over, with more variety of visuals and hairstyles coming in to play.

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action Screenshot

bitComposer Games are focusing a lot on the 3D effects and visuals to draw in the old fans, but the storyline, voices and characters are all staying true to the original. There’s no news on whether their close-up facial animations will be new, but don’t be surprised to see a 3D hitman when you call him up and offer him a contract.

Whether the successor will operate in a fun, challenging way like the original remains to be seen, but the different interface, not to mention landscapes which now includes hills, dunes and varied levels of terrain, are sure to add an interesting combat element to the game.

Hardcore fans will be upset if the pacing and challenge of the combat is thrown out, so bitComposer will be forced to walk a pretty tight rope across the lands of Arulco.

Jagged Alliance: Back In Action is still set for a late 2011 release for PC. We’ll let you know when more is revealed!

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