Once upon a time, there was a video game called Jagged Alliance. You hired a team of mercenaries to liberate an island from a ruthless dictator and assist a scientist and his daughter in the research of a rare plant sap with medical properties. Each of your mercs could develop their abilities RPG-style, and combat was done in a turn-based style. It was basically Tactics Ogre with guns and on steroids. It was awesome. It spawned a sequel which had 2 expansions, which were even more awesome. The series then went off the grid until a JA1 was re-released on the Nintendo DS in 2009 while JA2 was remade this past year. Jury is still out on both of those. However, in the years between JA2 and the remake, several games popped up that were ‘inspired’ by Jagged Alliance. Most of them sucked. Brigade E5 is one of the worst offenders. In case you don’t believe that it’s a rip off of JA, just take one look at its cover. Still don’t believe me? Here’s its European cover.

But which designer? The Interior Designer? The Toilet designer? It sure as hell wasn't the Lead Designer.

In Brigade, players have to assemble a band of mercenaries to liberate a fictional island nation. The nation is controlled by three factions who are constantly at war, and you’ll have to do deals with each of them. Should make for one heck of a storyline right? Sadly, there is little difference between the 3 factions, as you’ll find yourself doing the same fetch and kill mission types. Everything else falls flat within minutes of starting the game. The awkward camera angle makes navigation harder than it should be. Also, the game’s control scheme constantly requires to confirm your actions, and it pauses constantly when something changes. For instance, while moving my troops down a road, it pauses when they spot an enemy, and I have to confirm that they want to proceed. If I’m shooting at an enemy, the game pauses as well. While it can be an asset for planning out your moves, it’s more of a hindrance. It’s almost as if the game’s designers couldn’t decide weather they wanted this game to be turn-based (you know, like the franchise that inspired it), or real time. Apparently they also couldn’t decide weather they wanted this game to be a plain old first person shooter either, as I find myself constantly looking down my sniper’s rifle sight when I’m trying to fucking zoom in! There is challenge in this game. However, most of the challenge cones from the fantastically stupid AI along with trying to navigate the absolutely fucktarded interface.

Then there are the graphics. For a game released in 2007, these graphics are extremely primative. It’s like I’m playing an N64 game! These visuals make Space Trader look like freaking Mass Effect! This is supposed to be a tropical island, so why are there so many shades of brown? The ‘sky’ is simply an ugly blue background. It’s as if the developers created this game using the Unreal Editor’s mentally challenged cousin, go tired, and decided to use a default blue screen as the background, and ship the game. The developers obviously didn’t bother with much playtesting either, as there are numerous bugs in the game. Shit, I had to hack the game just to get it running correctly! Don’t even get me started on the dialoge either. Not since the heyday of the NES have I seen translations this bad. No, scratch that. At least NES developers made an effort to translate the game from Japanese, and the most we ended up with random lines here and there like “A Winner is You” which were more comical than anything. In Brigade, it’s as if the game’s Russian developers simply copy and pasted their text into google translate! When I heard the guy’s ‘accent’ in the tutorial, I knew we were headed for trouble.

In short, Brigade is nowhere near as good as the game it’s trying to be. Just go home and play some more Jagged Alliance 2 already.