Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Jagged Alliance 2 Retrospective Walkthrough - Part II

Continuing from Part I: Introduction & Chargen.

   L i b e r a t i o n  o f  O m e r t a   

The northern, rural town of Omerta consists of just two sectors. We are here to liberate it from Deidranna's men and make contact with the rebels.

   B a s i c  T a c t i c s  T i p s   

Ok, our first combat zone! Now, this is going to sound blatantly obvious but believe me when I say you don't want to get hit by enemy fire. You don't want to get a dagger thrust into your guts or a throwing knife in the eye. This is not like most RPGs where, at the end of any given combat scenario, you can just click a button to "rest until healed" and fully recover your HP pool as if nothing happened; also with no thought given to resource management. If a merc gets hit, they are going to feel it. It's going to adversely affect every aspect of their performance, not just their ability to aim a gun. So if a merc gets hit, heal them! Get a doctor on the scene with First Aid/Medical Kits - pronto. Don't let them bleed because the longer they are left bleeding, the more it impacts their performance. Not to mention, it could permanently decrease their stats! 

Ok, so how to avoid getting hit too often? Don't run, walk. Better yet, stay low. Move about in a crouched or prone (crawling) position. To do that hover your cursor over a unit, hold down the left mouse button and pull your mouse toward you (push it away from you to stand back up). Or right-click hold over the merc and select your stance from there. Or simply hit the hotkeys for stand, crouch and prone (S, C and P). Or you can cycle through stances with pageup/pagedown.

Use cover at all times. Even the trunk of a tree is better than nothing. The End and Del keys on your NumPad will display a colored overlay that shows your line of sight and cover, respectively. You should be able to guess what the colors indicate. These are great tactical features that other RPGs can only dream of, so don't forget to use them often!

Don't bite off more than you can chew. Observe patrol pathing. Use stealth to scope the place out (Z key) and find out who - or what - you're dealing with. Go in gung-ho and you will probably get filled full of holes and end up as carrion-fodder. (Yes, after a time crows WILL be shown pecking at corpses.)

Clumping your mercs together into one big blob is the height of foolishness. You are just making everyone a bigger target. Even if an enemy misses their intended target, the bullet has to go somewhere, and that's usually straight into the person standing next to or behind the intended target. Bullets can even hit one target for full damage, ricochet, and hit another for decent damage, too. Not to mention grenades... So yeah, spread the squad out (but not too thin).

Distract the enemy. Pick up a rock and throw it. Blow something up. It's not good to have every enemy unit bearing down on your position.

In regard to offense, unless you are supremely confident in your mercs' ability to hit their mark, you should always concentrate your aim for increased accuracy. To do this, right-click up to four times when the crosshair pops up. In the center of the crosshair is shown the AP expenditure for firing the shot. Now left-click to shoot and hope you hit!

Keep a sharp eye on your AP pool, too. No use expending all your APs on one shot, only to become a sitting duck when the enemy gets their turn. Even enemies who are on their last legs can get a shot off that will ruin your day. So, don't give them that opportunity. Duck out of cover, take a shot, and then duck back in to cover.

Reserving APs also helps trigger Interrupts. This is when you get to take an action during the enemy's turn (i.e, you "interrupt" them). You can move, take a free shot at them etc. Interrupt frequency increases with your level. Remember also that up to five unexpended APs carry over to your next turn.

Coordinate your squads. Don't just dump them all into the north of a sector. Have some come in from the south, too. Or from the west and east.

Use the right ammo. Hollow point, armor piecing etc. Ammo type will become more of a factor later.

Your mercs can run in turn-based mode, allowing you to cover greater distances with the same AP pool. Hit the R key to switch to run mode (S switches back to walk). (To run in real-time mode simply double-click where you want to go.)

Ctrl+s is for quicksave and Ctrl+l is for quickload. In non-Ironman mode you can save during combat. But also remember to make manual, named saves at intervals so that you can return to a state of non-failure, if you need to.

   A 9 :  O m e r t a   

The chopper will drop off the squad in the north of the sector. How cool is it that your squad is shown swinging down from a rope, one by one?

There are three hostiles just to the south, two of whom will likely be bearing down on the drop-off point. Head down to meet them or wait for them to come to you. Either way, take 'em out and loot their corpses. One of them dropped a Desert Eagle and some ammo. 

Here, my I.M.P. waits behind the northern wall of the closest house, just by the back door, and caps the two schlubs in the head from point blank, as they show themselves.

Then, I have Dr. Q make his way south under cover of stealth, to cap the third guy in the back of the head from point blank - through a partially boarded-up window! Sweet. Our first sector is cleared!

(A quick note on loot: it's mostly randomized, though drawn from preset pools for balance reasons. Itemization is set upon entry to a sector.)

   A 9 : O m e r t a — L i b e r a t e d   
The wire cutters and crowbar found in the easternmost house are of great utility in the early going. Don't forget to grab them. Being able to cut a hole in wire fences is handy for infiltrating the inner grounds and bypassing checkpoints.

Crowbars make forcing open doors, lockers and crates much easier (prying) than going mad beating them in with punches and kicks. This also gives you a chance to increase your Strength stat. Notice that blue bar next to your mercs' portraits? That's your Energy (EP). It goes down when you exert yourself. If it's low you will find it difficult to force open doors, pick locks etc., so rest for a few minutes to remove the penalty of exhaustion from these checks.

With the initial sector cleared and looted you need to make contact with Fatima, who is found hiding in her house at the center of town. Give her the note from Enrico so that she trusts you. Now, follow her east to A10: Omerta.

To move mercs as a group you can just marquee select them, but that's not always practical because your units may be spread all over the map. That's where the = key comes in. This will actually select all mercs on the map, regardless of the squad they're in. To travel to the next sector you need to have all of your mercs grouped at the edge of the map, at which point your cursor should change to indicate a transition option. You can also call up Map View and click on the sector that shows your mercs as little yellow squares. Then, select your squad and plot your travel route to A10. This can only be done when the sector you are in has been cleared of all hostiles, as ours has been.

   A 1 0 :  O m e r t a   

Ok, there are no hostiles in this sector. Continue to follow Fatima east along the road and north up to the building in which it is revealed the rebels are based. (Note how her son skips along merrily in a war-ravaged region. A nice touch.) Outside the makeshift base Fatima will be confronted by one of the rebels, Dmitri, who is angry that she brought you to the hideout. Fatima explains that your force was sent by Enrico to help the rebels liberate Arulco, and that we need to see the rebel leader, Miguel. Dmitri will then lead you down into the basement where the rebels are holed up with their families.

   A 1 0 - B 1 :  O m e r t a    

The rebels are jumpy when they see you down in the basement. Fatima explains that she has a letter from Enrico that is addressed to Miguel, the leader of the rebels.

Carlos is suspicious at first but then Miguel steps in from an adjacent room and asks to see the letter, which Fatima hands him. Miguel confirms the letter's authenticity and welcomes you to Arulco on behalf of his rebel force.

He says that Deidranna wants to wipe Omerta from the map of Arulco, at which point Ira famously exclaims: "She is evil. A driven bitch". A member of your squad will interject at this point; it's random as to who pipes up. In my case, it was Gus Tarballs. These sorts of interjections happen a lot over the course of the campaign, and I've always enjoyed hearing what my squad members have to say.

Miguel goes on to inform you that he has lost over thirty men in the past month, that his force now consists of what's here, but that he does have a few allies in the Arulco countryside. He explains that the people of Arulco would love to overthrow Deidranna, but that they live in fear of her. She is heartless, brutal, and has robbed Arulco of its money and its soul. The rebel force needs to gain the confidence of the people but without their support they cannot. The rebels lack soldiers, equipment and - Carlos explains - even food. They need safe passage to the nearby town of Drassen, if they are to hold out. Miguel requests that you cut through Deidranna's forces en route to Drassen, liberate that town, and find Father Walker there, who is sympathetic to their situation and would be able to organize supplies to be sent to Omerta. So begins your first quest...

(As you can see, dialogue in Jagged Alliance 2 is simple and yet there is still flavor and emotion. The talking heads are well-drawn and well-voiced acted. As such, it's always a pleasure to enter into dialogue with NPCs.)

You can now enlist the services of Ira! Just click "Recruit" on the dialogue window. She will remark that her Marksmanship is weak but note the Teacher (Expert) trait and the Wisdom 83, which will enable her to quickly skill-up in Leadership when she trains militia, after our liberation of Drassen.

Note the dialogue options here. You tend to get more out of civilians if you are friendly and more out of soldiers if you are direct.

Dimitri, Carlos and Miguel can be enlisted in the future, too. We'll be getting Dmitri soon but we will have to wait until we've gained the upper hand against Deidranna before Carlos and Miguel will agree to leave their base and join us.

Just a quick comment on Loyalty, which you can view for all towns on the Map View. You will receive +45% loyalty from Omerta for getting on-side with the rebels and another +20% for recruiting Ira into your ranks. Loyalty is not crucial here in Omerta - as it will be in towns with militia and mines - where it will govern militia performance during reprisals and also the output of the mines, and therefore your cash-flow.

Note that, after one week, if you have not attacked a sector, you will receive a complaint email from Enrico that will lower your Loyalty percentage. Thus, the campaign is timed. Loyalty will continue to drop until you start taking sectors. If it drops to 0%, mines stop earning money. If mines stop earning money, you can't hire/rehire mercs. If you can't hire/rehire mercs, you can't fight. And if you can't fight, you're fucked.

   E n  r o u t e  t o  D r a s s e n   

Take your leave of the hideout and make your way south or east. You can head south and then take the road east to Drassen or simply head east through the woods, hoping you don't get waylaid by an enemy patrol. You can also stop off in any sector en route and explore it. But get to Drassen ASAP.

Now, it's best to park your squad one sector away from a hostile sector and try to get some rest. This will ensure you have enough EPs to be effective in combat. There is no point entering a hostile sector exhausted, and on the verge of collapse.

   I c o n i c  C u t s c e n e   

Upon leaving Omerta the first cutscene will fire featuring the antagonist, Deidranna, and her lil' yes-man, Elliot. These two are located far to the south in the palace of Meduna, speaking in the throne room. Note the animated bitch-slap.

Continued in Part III: Liberation of Drassen!

   E o P   


  1. Good old times, when there was no tutorial! Sure, we had the manual, but it was fun experimenting (the "heal immediately the wounded mercenaries" is something I learned immediately)

    1. I made this first combat scenario look EZ but the truth is that newbies will probably be shot to shit. All it takes is one false step and you will find 70% of your health pool gone.

      Experimentation is the name of the game, yes. This game is most fun when you're still working the systems out.

    2. A problem I had is that you start with handguns, and handguns aren't that good(in JA1 you spend almost half of the game with .38 pistols, and when you get your first rifle you can see the difference), and one good reason to take a character like Lynx is that he comes with a decent weapon (ok, here weapons are more balanced, still I think that a long range weapon is better).

    3. Pistoleering is pretty hard in JA2, but still easier than any form of melee (h2h, knifing, martial arts). I'm going to try and report on pistol-use later, when I find some good ones. Their low AP cost can make them viable, providing you have the mobility to duck in and out of cover. Ambi helps, too. But assault and sniper rifles win hands down in JA2, for sure. Fit attachments to them and they go over the top. And once you reach Meduna, then heavy weapons come into play. This game is so much fun.

    4. Well knifing and martial arts are merely side weapons, I remember killing some opponents with a thrown knife, but these are rare situtations. Unfortunately this isn't Fallout (tactics) or Wasteland 2, so melee isn't a viable option.
      Most of the time you have to rely on firearms and unfortunately guns are useful in close quarters... but when you are in the open, you will want a long arm.


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