PC Games

Published on July 29th, 2023 | by Nathan Misa

Jagged Alliance 3 PC Review – Command, Contract, Conquer

Jagged Alliance 3 PC Review – Command, Contract, Conquer Nathan Misa

Summary: A must-play turn-based tactics combat simulator elevated by memorable characters, over-the-top action and deep RPG elements.


Command, contract, conquer

Jagged Alliance 3 is one of several three-quels to legendary video game franchises arriving well over 20 years later in 2023, but it’s a return that is certainly more than welcome.

With new developer Haemimont Games at the helm of Jagged Alliance 3, the question has been whether they could break the franchise curse (plagued with bad spin-offs for over a decade) and deliver a worthy numbered successor. In my opinion, it is both an excellent re-introduction to the series, and one of the most fun tactical games I’ve played.


Jagged Alliance 3 is set in the fictional African country of Grand Chien, a war-torn nation suffering under the onslaught of the Legion, a group of rogue citizens and paramilitary forces who have kidnapped the President and wreak violent havoc across the country. The Adonis Corporation, a wealthy international company that runs the diamond mines in Grand Chien, provides funding to the President’s daughter to engage the Association of International Mercenaries (A.I.M.) to rescue her father. As an unseen commander, you’re put in charge of recruiting, managing and deploying your own group of specialized mercenaries from A.I.M. to eliminate the Legion and bring peace back to Grand Chien… in any manner you choose to.

The game takes place in 2001, a few years after the second game, which allows many of the iconic mercenary characters that made the series so beloved to return, along with several new faces. A.I.M. categorizes each merc’s hiring price into four tiers based on ability, and with over 40 mercs (and several hidden recruits discoverable in the game world) you have plenty of options and potential for replayability right off-the-bat. My favourite mercs were a mix of old and new; Bobby ‘Steroid’ Gontarski, an LMG-wielding Arnie imposter; Keith ‘Blood’ Hanson, a stealthy operative handy with throwing knives; Cynthia ‘Fox’ Guzman, an ambidextrous medic and notorious femme fatale; and Monica “Buns” Sondergaard, a stern by-the-book professional.

The list of hired contractors are diverse in background, combat capability and personality, which immediately elevates Jagged Alliance 3 from being just another turn-based tactical combat simulator into a more personal journey, as you come to learn about and care for the mercs under your command (if you prefer to make your own blank slate mercenaries, you can do that, too). Each merc has their own likes and dislikes, and they frequently banter with certain squad members; some may even refuse to join you or even renegotiate their cost if you hire someone they dislike. On a gameplay level, mercs also have one unique trait each; for example, Blood can throw daggers on the go while on-the-move. A smaller number of mercs have perks that reflect their personality and unlock unique dialogue; Buns is a negotiator and Fox is a scoundrel, which opens up options in quests. That’s on top of a range of perks everyone can earn when leveling.

Reflecting the Y2K time period, you will explore each merc’s dossier, negotiate and then hire them through a Web 1.0 browser interface, complete with hilarious banners and fake web pages you can visit to immerse yourself in what was a brilliant experience for this nostalgic Millennial. But it’s not just the aesthetic; it’s clear from the beginning that Jagged Alliance 3 is decidedly old-school in its narrative tone, opening with a disclaimer stating its intention to continue the tradition of its predecessors in exaggerating pop culture stereotypes and satirizing cliches of the over-the-top action movies of the 1990s, while also weaving in jokes about more contemporary issues. I personally found the game’s writing to be an entertaining and humorous dark comedy, if not as cerebral in its lampooning of issues as some may desire. The story and people of Grand Chien never came across as mean-spirited or vapid, and the serious nature of the conflict is handled with care during main story cutscenes and their dialogue.

Once you’re past the recruitment phase, the game itself is played from an isometric view-point, and split into three layers. ‘Sat-View’ presents the world map of Grand Chien, split into tiles like a game of Battleship, and I spent many hours planning my next course of action, reading emails, reviewing intel, using the browser to hire new mercs, managing inventory and customizing weapons. Moving between tiles to engage an entrenched enemy or take over a diamond mind takes time, as does engaging in operations like scouting for intel, healing squad members, or training militia to guard a town you just liberated. The game demands careful resource management to get the most out of your mercs, as their contracts are constantly up for renewal (expenses may outweigh income if you’re not careful).

The second gameplay layer is exploration, or ‘Tac-View’, where you move your mercenaries across the current tile/level in real-time to set your mercs into position for the next potential firefight, discover points-of-interest like hidden loot caches or shopfronts with purchasable goods, and interact with NPCs. It’s here I found many RPG elements such as stat building, ability trees, resource management and branching dialogue options. Your mercs will constantly apply and gain levels across attributes such as Health, Wisdom and Leadership by interacting with the environment and other characters, and depending on your squad, certain quests, dialogue options and rewards will be available or locked away.

The amount of secrets and branching paths was a pleasant surprise to discover, such as a wealth of special interactions that came from my chosen mercenaries as they spoke with locals, broke into hidden weapons caches and pissed off people by snooping around too much. With 40+ mercs available, the unique dialogue available is considerable, all fully voiced with gusto, helping each merc’s personality shine.

Combat itself presents a fun array of clever scenarios, ranging from all-out gunfights to guerilla warfare to unexpected ambushes to stealthy infiltration of enemy bases. Orders are issued to squads in a turn-based format, with each action costing action points (AP). The battlefield becomes a grid to move units into position and use the environment and tactics to your advantage before the enemy gets their turn. You can target individual body parts of enemies, each with varying effects (legs slow, head has better crits) and because the hit chance odds are hidden compared to, say, XCOM 2, I found I spent less time save-scumming and more time making shots and reaping satisfying results. Other options include setting up overwatch to have mercs fire upon enemies if they move into a set field range on the next turn, blowing enemies up with a range of explosives, and getting up close and personal with melee weapons.

Because of the diverse range of mercs on offer, I found combat to be both complex and fun thanks to the variety of ways to engage the enemy… and the many ways enemies react. My preferred tactic was to have my marksman sneak into position on high ground, while my stealth characters took out as many enemies undetected as possible, and my Arnold Schwarzenegger wannabe blasted the remains with his heavy mounted machine gun. Fights are tough but fair, and with several difficulty options on offer (including ‘Forgiving Mode’, and another that disallows save-scumming) all preferences are catered for.

The visuals of Jagged Alliance 3 is a big shift away from the sprite-based art of the first two games, but the move to 3D graphics has brought increased fidelity and environmental detail to every battlefield and character. Each explorable level is packed with hand-crafted detail, ranging from dilapidated shanty towns to proud mansions, lush green jungles to arid deserts, and maximum security prisons and secret underground facilities.

Character portraits are static in comparison to the detailed 3D environments able to be explored, but brings each merc’s personality to life whenever on screen. The same can go for the sound and music, which evoked the setting of a late 90’s action movie (there’s also some beautiful African-inspired melodies to match the setting which caught be by surprise). The voice acting across-the-board, as noted earlier, is excellent, with every mercenary having a lot of things to say, elevated by actors who clearly are having fun with their over-the-top personalities on offer.

Meanwhile, the graphics options available in Jagged Alliance 3 will also satisfy most enthusiasts; playing on an RTX 3060 TI/Ryzen 3600, I was able to max out most settings to high and ultra and play at a smooth uncapped 120fps with no issues. This is one good looking game!

The Final Verdict

Jagged Alliance 3 is an incredibly fun PC strategy game and a must play title this year. Its in-depth turn-based tactical combat is augmented with under-the-hood role-playing systems and elevated by a cast of hilarious and memorable mercenaries of varying specializations, brought to life with excellent voice-acting. With several different quest outcomes, unique dialogue depending on your squad and ample mod support, this is a game ripe with replayability. It’s been a long wait, but it’s well worth it.

About the Author


A senior writer for ImpulseGamer.com and former writer for MMGN and Ninemsn, Nathan has been reviewing video games and interviewing talented developers since 2012. As a nostalgia tragic eternally tied to the glorious 1990s, he's always playing retro gaming classics whenever he's not entrenched in the latest RPG, or talking your ear off about why The First Law book series is better than Game of Thrones - to anyone who dares listen.

Back to Top ↑