Review by clowning
"The Battlefield Killer? No. Fun Killer? Yes!"
The battle is a kilometer or more away, and if you can get there without getting shot or blown up, don't worry. Chances are, the enemy will kill you soon after arriving at the front, and you'll have to spend another few minutes trying to get back to the front so you can...die...again.
Well, not necessarily. You can call for a medic, and wait for a medic that might never come for up to two minutes--two very exciting minutes of staring blankly at your screen. After two minutes, you see, your "medic timer" expires, and your only way back in is to respawn back at one of your bases. Once back amongst the (virtual) living, you can spend a minute or two (or more) trying to get back to the front, preferably with all your health intact so that you can get shot again, call for a medic again, wait again....
Ah the joy, the pure unadulterated excitement, that is Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising.
This little gameplay feature, so cleverly inserted into the game design to maximize your thrill, is only one of many joyful components in this game.
Let's talk about the player HUD. You have a minimap, which is not filled with all sorts of annoying information, like a beacon that shows up when someone calls out to offer a lift, or for medics to know exactly where that wounded soldier is who is so desperately calling for your services. Oh no, such additions will only clutter the almost empty minimap and make it actually useful.
Of course, you could pull up the large map that is so cluttered with your allied players names on it that you will be hard pressed to find yourself amongst the debris of names.
Sound is an important part of any game, and once again we see that this feature was given half of the attention it merits. Many weapons sound the same in this game. Not only that, it is often difficult to discern from what direction shots are fired. Fortunately, your near empty minimap comes to the rescue, with a yellow flashing "pie-slice" indicating the direction of the gunfire...except not always, and not always in the right direction, I learned.
You can hear the coming of helicopters, but looking into the sky all around you does not always reveal their presence, I found. Are some of them invisible? Is it an enemy trick? I don't know.... What I do know is that sometimes I hear them, but they're just not there. Some might say, "It's hiding behind a tree or a hill!" But what if you looked there? Or what if you're out at sea? It's a mystery to me....
Speaking of looking around, the graphics in Joint Operations are of mediocre quality. You have seen them before in other games, usually ones that are a year or two old. The character models are especially distressing to look at...cartoonishly simple in many ways. The gun models are better, but they merit no awards.
And now to more gameplay features, or lack of them.
Vehicles: Really, there aren't that many, since there is a bit of redundancy in the land vehicles. There are no jets to call upon for laser guided air strikes, though you can paint a target for your engineer, one who happens to be carrying a mortar. The engineer can then fire up to four marvelously ineffective explosive rounds at a hard target that cannot be penetrated (the enemy base, or local mu hut) or destroyed. You also can't paint a target for artillery fire. Why not you ask? Why, because, like the absence of jets, there is no artillery. Now you're asking yourself, why not? Isn't this supposed to be modern combat? Right you are! But Novalogic wanted to force teamwork, and they felt that scouts painting targets for artillery and jets was not teamwork, so bid a fond adieu to jets and artillery. We did not even get to know them....
It's a jungle out there: It really is. Jungle and more jungle. Oh, and a city or two to vary things a little, with a marketplace and some slums, you know the type of place.... The lack of terrain diversity is not a strength in any game, but why add that ingredient to your list of must-haves in this game? While we're removing other aspects of modern warfare, let's remove terrain diversity. In the modern world, battle takes place only in jungles, in Indonesia, and in their third world cities. OK, so it's not fair to criticize (much) the plot of the story (Indonesian separatists vs. the UN) but why can't there be separatists in other parts of the world? Like somewhere in Africa so we can have a desert map. Or maybe somewhere in Siberia, so we can have a snowy map in the midst of a blizzard. But no, that requires more work and another cd, and they only wanted to ship one cd in the box, so there you have it.
While the jungle is lush with tall grass, which makes hiding from nearby opponents an easy task, the terrain becomes monotonous very quickly. Jungles are only so much fun and only for so long. The problem this creates that the game becomes a run and gun type of game, but one that encourages running and gunning en masse. The lack of real weaponry like artillery, tanks, jets, SAMs (other than shoulder fired Stingers), battleships, carriers, destroyers, subs and more, reduces combat to helicopters and infantry (sometimes mechanized infantry). An excellent plan, really, because who wants to be bothered with all those other options? Isn't it more fun to be limited, rather than receiving a plethora of options? The only real options you have in the game is what weapons to take with you as you prepare to embark on your long journey to the front, options that boil down to guy with rifle with a medic pack or a scope (for snipers), some sort of heavy weapon and a few grenades. Oh yes, and the trusty knife...we can't forget about that. Oh I almost forget, the eminently useful "target designator," so you can paint targets for the engineers who may or may not be carrying mortars with them.
Ah yes, the ultimate joy...second only to the joy of uninstalling it, and tossing it out, for this game does not even merit coaster status.
Kudos for the marketing hype and for hiring those annoying undercover marketing agents that infiltrate chat rooms by the dozens to tell you how great the game is. Kudos for pulling off large maps and long draw distances. Shame shame for producing such an awful game. If boredom is what you're missing in life, then Joint Operations is the cure.
Reviewer's Score: 5/10 | Originally Posted: 07/26/04
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