"Hired Guns: The Jagged Edge" is a game that brings back fond memories of the longtime greats such as "UFO: Enemy Unknown" (Or "X-COM: UFO Defence" for you young'ens) and other games such as "UFO: Alien Invasion", "UFO: Afterlight", "UFO: Aftershock" and "UFO: Extraterrestrials". Yes, it's a diverse range of titles that defined a genre that never really got anywhere outside of the main franchise. So, here we have a game with the same basic ideas of turn based strategy combat based in Africa where you, the player are put in charge of hiring a team of unsavoury mercenary types to go open a fresh can of whoop-ass on an unsuspecting land of corruption and one can only assume drug trafficking and perhaps Giraffe smuggling.
As is a common theme with the lesser known PC games we're talking less then fantastic graphics in return for something that genre fans will appreciate and in a strange little way accept into their hearts as a special treat for the players of yester-year who remember when games weren't all silly graphics and easy to pick up game play. Hired Guns makes you work for your fun, dammit! It starts off with a simple opening cinematic showing you what appears to be our main character driving around hot exotic areas with the wind in his hair, or at least I assume this is what it was, the video quality was intentionally grained to look like an old style film (for some reason) it's at this point where things go from odd to surreal. This is a Russian developed game and for the translation isn't as sassy at it could be. And that doesn't help when in a throw back to the aforementioned olde games of yore, you're greeted with page after page of text informing you how to play and what to do.
Now, I'm personally against the idea of dumbing down games to suite your average Wii owner, but having skipped this with the assumption that modern game design would be intuitive and simple enough to allow this experienced gamer to dive in. After five minutes of trying to figure out how to get the damn game part of the game to start, I restarted and settled down to read the tutorials and then having used my considerable stockpile of cash to get started I bought out a collection of smart talking mercenary types to allow me to perform acts of random violence against people that I thought of to be sitting around hot huts with men with AK-47's standing around outside, fanning himself with a fresh wad of drug money (I endorse Role-playing during the game process).
What we actually find when we start playing the game are graphics that are, to be honest, a little on the weak side. The gameplay is decent but that's all that can be said, it has a nice array of stat manipulation for each of your paid for mercs so if you're a person that is really, loves to tinker with each and every one of your little people by buying them guns and armor just for them (to make them feel special) then you'll have a ball. Unfortunately the game does fall flatly into some of the genre's odd little moments, a long standing issue from a personal standpoint was the line of sight has always had it's strange moments and in in Hired Guns it's no different. In a moment of pure game buggery, my ultra armoured and super gun waving merc stood across from a waist high table to an opponent, both men were standing and both men were...erm...tall and then the combat mechanics kicked in and my opponent vanished because there was a waist high table. Apparently in this game people have their eyes in their knees.
Overall this game is a perfectly capable game that does what people who created this game wanted it to do, giving people enough statistics and customisation of their various employees as well as what could be considered a solid base and decent enough graphics to be forgiveable should you find the game play enthralling enough. I suppose my problem is that taking away the aliens and laser guns of a certain game series and placing in something as un-stimulating as a collection of mercenary people in a hot location just wasn't enough to keep this humble reviewer from keeping his beautiful eyes on the screen that long.