Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising Review


With Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising, NovaLogic has taken their Blackhawk Down engine out of Africa and into the South Pacific. The game is set in the near future in Indonesia at a time when the insurgency that has plagued the country in recent years has escalated to open rebellion. To help stabilize the populous country, Western nations have sent in a multinational contingent of Special Forces units. It is up to you, and perhaps a hundred or so of your closest friends, to fight the battles of this war – either as a JointOps soldier or as a rebel.

Joint Operations is an online first-person shooter that is at least in concept somewhat similar to Battlefield 1942. The game does not provide much in the way of a single-player offline experience, so if you don’t intend to do a lot of online gaming then you should pass on Joint Operations and stick to Blackhawk Down. As for the offline modes, there is an excellent series of tutorials that explain the use of the various weapon systems and vehicles in the game. You are given the opportunity to try each out in combat situations against a computer-controlled enemy. These exercises can be both challenging and exciting, but since they are primarily tutorials they are all inevitably of short duration. You can also play against the AI in some of the game’s co-op multiplayer modes, but the computer makes up for its lack of tactical ability with uncanny marksmanship so these missions tend to run on the frustrating side of things.

Screenshots
An all out assault.

The fun really begins when you play Joint Operations as it is meant to be played – online against scores of other players. The game supports several modes of play including deathmatch, co-op, and king of the hill. The primary mode of play is advance and secure in which the teams fight to control bases, villages, and other strategic points on the map. The first thing that you’ll notice when playing Joint Operations is that the game can be quite large, both in terms of number of players and map size. The servers can support up to 150 players per game, which needless to say is quite a bit more than most online shooters out there. The maps vary in size but the largest can be several kilometers wide. It’s not uncommon to join a 150 player game and find yourself 2 km away from the action. While the game includes an excellent interface that makes it easy to tell where you are in relation to the control points and which ones are being contested, you are often quite a ways from that action.

Luckily the game provides plenty of vehicles to ferry players around the sprawling maps. There are jeeps, APCs, helicopters, and even hovercraft and boats at each side’s disposal. The larger helicopters and boats can even carry other vehicles. These vehicles spawn for each side at a rearward motor pool/base which also serves as the default spawn point for players. The vehicles are all easy to operate using the same keys for movement as used when you are on foot. The vehicles are very forgiving and realistic physics, handling, and damage are sacrificed for ease of use. While some players may cringe at the way vehicles can go bouncing off of trees, straight up steep slopes, or even fall off a bridge and keep going, the large map sizes really do necessitate easy transportation that any player can operate without spending time learning controls and practicing maneuvering. Some of the vehicles are armed and all of these vehicles support driver/gunner multiplayer crews, but the vehicles are not really designed to be a major offensive force in the game. The vehicles are transport workhorses and their weapons are primarily defensive in nature. A pretty cool feature of the boats and helicopters is that passengers can move around the interiors and even fire out of open doors and hatches. The maps look really impressive from the air and you’ll often find yourself transfixed by the view as you cross jungles and rice paddies and watch firefights play out on the battlefield below.