It seems that you're using an outdated browser. Some things may not work as they should (or don't work at all).
We suggest you upgrade newer and better browser like: Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Opera

I lucked into getting a game pack in a thrift store that included more than what I had anticipated. It has JA2 Gold and Wildfire.

Anyway, there's no manual. Should I download it from replacementdocs and read it? I think I understand the gameplay for the most part, as the help screen is, well, very helpful.

What I don't know is what my goal is. I have to find Miguel, but I don't know where to start. I'm capping fools left and right, but the civilians won't talk to me. I explored most of the houses at the starting area, but haven't found any information in them. Looking at my map, it's only one quadrant of a huge, huge country. So I don't know where to begin.

Also, when I began I chose Novice, Sci-Fi, and Normal, in response to Difficulty, Realism and Guns. That was the default setting, it seems. Is that what I should have chosen?

PS: Whenever I exit, it says "JA2 Demo Has Stopped Working" or whatever. It's clearly no the demo, though. The disc says JA2 Gold. Must be some weird left over error or something. It doesn't affect my gameplay.

Thanks everyone. I know I could have checked a fact, but who doesn't like a personal response when it comes to the harsh, unforgiving land of a strange new game?
When you first land in Arulco, you'll be immediately stuck in your first fight, after they've been eliminated then you can go find Miguel like you've been told to do. In order to meet Miguel, you need Fatima to convince Dimitri to let you into the building hes in.

Fatima is usually lurking in the building just south of where your mercs land (around about the centre of the same sector). One of your mercs (the first one you hired/created) has a letter that you'll need to give her, after that its pretty simple to follow what you need to do for the next few fights. Afterwards the game becomes a little more open for you to complete your mission as you please.

Oh, and when you've taken the airport you'll have the ability to visit Bobby Rays website (first accessed via a link on AIM) and buy some equipment.
Post edited October 19, 2011 by Lenriak
*** Spoiler alert ***

To start:
- build your IMP merc. Tips: medic, explosives, repair can be 0. Leadership too if you wish, otherwise 35. Wisdom at the max. of 85. Dexterity and agility are important too.
- hire a cheap team from AIM (people like Steroid, Buns, Fidel, Wolf, some others) for 2 weeks. If a wanted merc is on mission, restart the game. Have 1 repair guy, 1 explosive expert, 1 medic), all need good markmanship (80+ preferably). High wishdom mercs learn faster thus increase their skills faster. Developing mercs auto level and become more expensive that way
- when done hiring, save the game

After landing in Arulco, you have to clear the sector of the town you land in from enemies.
DON'T shoot civilians. You'll get a message when all enemies are dead. Check their bodies for loot.
Once all enemies are dead, talk to Fatima and give her the letter. Follow her with all your mercs. She'll take you to see Miguel. Talk to him and hire Ira (you'll need her to talk to father Walker in Drassen).
Free Drassen in whatever order you like. Check the map to see how popular you are with a town. If popular enough, use the mercs with the highest leadership to train militia (Ira is great for this). You can spread militia anyway you like over a town.
Once freed, talk to people at the airport and give the guy at the boxes $10 so your stuff doesn't go missing. Talk to guys in the hanger building to get a tip about the pilot, search for him and find him. You'll probably find him in the swamp east of Drassen. You'll know when cause you'll get a message stating you encountered someone in the sector. Go to the house in the center of the sector and talk to the pilot. Escort him to the helicopter in Drassen airport and you got yourself an air taxi. You can only use the helicopter in areas in which you have taken over the SAM sites. The pilot will inform you about those.
Once Drassen airport is freed, you can use Bobby Ray although you probably won't need his stuff at that moment in time.
Once Drassen is freed, use Ira to talk to father Walker.
Talk to named NPCs in the bars.
Kill the factory owner in the centre sector of Drassen. Check the church for a shotgun.

Take out Drassen SAM site (or wait). Grab all weapons and ammo and go to the most eastern sector of San Mona. During daytime, talk to the shopkeeper of the leather shop.
Go 1 sector west. Have a lockpicker go to the backdoor of the whore house. Untrap it. Lockpick it. Sneak in (use sneak to be silent). Lockpick the 2nd door. Than it's the most northern door. Talk to Maria and escort her to her brother (during daytime). You'll get the deed to the shop and a jacket which can be used as armor.
Talk to the guy in the tattoo shop and give him the deed. You'll get $10,000.
Go to the video store. Talk to the storekeeper. Kill the customer or talk to her with a high leadership merc. Talk to Hans again once the problem is solved. You now have access to Tony, Arulco's weapons dealer. Sell him all your unneccessary weapons and ammo.
Don't forget to check the bars in the 2 sectors you've visited.
The rest of the game is up to you.
You could go 1 sector south and enter the bar there. Try to arange a fight if you get a good HtH figher. Don't go into the A.C.A. building lockpicking there, you'll get shot.
Once your team is strong enough you can clean out this sector and get Kingpin's money.

Random tips:
- throw blooded throwing knives into the ground to clean them
- some items can be combined to make new items (like rod and spring)
- important NPCs have a name, talk to them
- you can find 3 named NPCs in bars (bartenders excluded). 1 sells explosives and stuff like that, the other buys animal parts and the 3rd is a bounty hunter
- you can check cabinets and such in towns to see if they contain items
- none town sectors can have buildings with stuff in it
- save before going into a fight
- try to fully rest your mercs before entering a fight
- don't spread your none carried items over all kinds of sectors, collect them in a few sectors
- very useful info on mercs, weapons, the personality survey, etc:
- make sure you have a steady income from the mines which is more than enough to pay your mercs. Your mercs will level and therefore become more expensive

As a new player I would advice you not to check sci-fi in your first run through.
Sci-fi means giant ants will at some point attack your miners, decreasing your income, etc.

Once this game has gotten to you and you've finished it, you could go for Wildfire which is the only official mod and basically a harder replay of the original with different maps. Instead you could go for 1 of the other mods, starting with 1.13. 1.13 fixes bugs, adds weapons, different inventory system and a lot more. It's definitely recommended.
Check the Bear's Pit for mods, info on them and help for them.

Most of this is from memory, so there might be some minor errors in this.
Post edited October 20, 2011 by HertogJan
Wow. I'm bookmarking this page now. Thank you.
No problem. Although most of it is probably available here or on other sides already.