Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising is the newest in the ‘war zone first-person shooter’ genre attempting to beat the stiff competition of Battlefield Vietnam and Battlefield 1942. These are hard acts to follow. It’s hard to imagine a game capable of integrating vehicles and players into a map and create multiplayer magic in the way these forerunners have. But with its new and innovative functions, Joint Operations manages to pull that off.
The game is set in Indonesia, with over 52km² of maps to fight in and explore. Inevitably this means slow loading times and a slight reduction in graphics quality but the price paid for new terrain each time you play is worth paying. The landscape, which varies from flat planes to hilly banks and built up villages, never repeats itself. There are 4x4s, lorries, and armoured vehicles - useful for travelling the many long and tedious distances. These are fun to drive and can also transport your fellow team-mates in multiplayer games. However 4x4s find it hard going through shallow water - so hard, in fact that they stop altogether - not exactly what you would expect from an apparently robust, military vehicle.
However, You’re not tied to the land. You can fly in a variety of helicopters and a selection of boats from dinghies to destroyers. These are easy to control but are limited to two poor camera angles, often with a large amount of the screen blocked by pretend control panels and dashboards. Once again, this can be forgiven, thanks to the sheer range of vehicles.
In addition, there’s a large choice of real weapons. At armouries you can stock up on ammo, multiple guns, grenades and other explosives. This gives you the power to customise those weapons you want to carry to suit your fighting style - a useful function as the heavier weapons impede your speed. There is such a large choice in all that there are specific missions to learn how to use them.
Single-player missions have all but been abolished - there are thirteen training missions to learn how to drive land, sea and air vehicles, how to use sniper rifles and other weapons, and how to perform basic attacks. But this is all that is available to the antisocial gamer. Joint Operations truly comes alive during the multiplayer function.
The multiplayer function is possible privately over a LAN connection, or by using the NovaWorld network. Gone are the days when online multiplayer games were limited to 50 players - now up to 150 people can now take place in a Team Death Match or Capture the Flag. This is a fantastic experience but is not unfortunately without its faults.
Unless playing on an absolutely top of the range PC, juddering and static screens are inevitable during large and frantic battles, and we found often ruined the experience. Also, sniper rifles are a menace in multiplayer games as they have an absurdly long range - it is possible to be shot down over and over again less than a second after being respawned, from an invisible and therefore invincible hitman.
In spite of the sniper hogs, Joint Operations breaks multiple barriers in online gaming - in size of maps, number of players, and overall game play experience. We have never played a game which forces complete engagement and concentration (sometimes too much so - as dying is slightly too easy) and which truly feels like a war zone. Novalogic have certainly created a game to challenge its rivals. Had it not been for frustrating snipers, shaking delayed screens, and a number of other small minor gripes this game would be perfect.