Joint Operations put to the test - great multiplayer shooter for 150 players
Shots are raining down on our bunker from everywhere. Grenades go off. Our base seems lost - but not for long: Almost 50 men from our team gather at the starting point in the west to turn things around again with united forces. 50 men? Yes, only 50. The other 25 are currently defending our other bases against the 75 soldiers on the opposing team.
Novalogic's team-based multiplayer shooter Joint Operations: Thyphoon Rising packs up to 150 players simultaneously on one map. One game was already played with 160 participants - a record in the action genre. We didn't test the game in mid-June for good reason, even though we had a finished version: At this point the program wasn't in stores, the few servers were orphaned. And even with the entire editorial team, the feel of Joint Operations in the LAN couldn't have come close to being recreated. That's why the test follows this month - after dozens of online battles, mostly lasting several hours.
Joint Operations is similar to Battlefield Vietnam, but puts you in the Indonesian jungle. In 2006 separatists were fighting for their independence there.
The UN sends the eponymous Joint Ops (including American, French, British and German units) to repel the rebels.
Joint Operations offers a cooperative variant in which you compete against acceptable bots with up to 64 competitors, but the core of the game is the so-called Advance and Secure mode. Team Deathmatch and Team King of the Hill are just nice bonuses that are rarely played on the servers.
Advance & Secure
Advance-and-Secure in Joint Operations works similarly to the Conquest mode of Battlefield Vietnam: the teams start in up to three bases and have to conquer the opponent's. The winner is whoever overruns the main enemy camp or who owns the most bases after the time has run out (adjustable).
A camp is taken when all adversaries within a radius of about 150 meters have been eliminated and one or more of their own soldiers have occupied the base at the same time. From now on it serves as a new entry point. In contrast to Battlefield Vietnam, you have to proceed in a certain order, i.e. first conquer base A, then B, then C. The (desired) effect: the action is not spread over the entire map, but instead focuses on one or two hotly contested places.
Similar to Battlefield Vietnam , the fighters are divided into classes: rifleman, gunner, engineer, sniper and medic. Your armament and equipment depend on this, and you can then adapt it to your style of play: If, as a pioneer, you prefer to shoot attacking helicopters with stinger missiles instead of bombing enemy bases with mortars, a simple click on the appropriate weapon is enough.
Weapon depots are available in almost every base and in prominent locations for quick changes in the game. Here you can not only change your class, but also adapt the weapons to the situation. When opening the menu, a statistic reveals how many soldiers of a type are on the way. This is how you recognize whether there are perhaps too few paramedics on your team and you can react.
Camouflage suit advisable
You cannot change the appearance of your character in Joint Operations during a game. We recommend that you put on your sniper camouflage suit in any case - even if you are playing a medic. The suit looks good brings a lot: you are much more difficult to see in the grass than with standard clothing! Unlike in Battlefield, only your teammates have the name above their heads, the opponents are not marked at all. Careful action and regular stops to search the area are therefore essential.
From A to B quickly
The largest map at Joint Operations measures an impressive 64 square kilometers. An example: On the Bumbu Channel map, you need a good ten minutes from main base to main base by amphibious jeep and around three minutes by helicopter. Thanks to the cleverly arranged bases, you rarely have to cross the entire area to intervene in the fighting. In an emergency, you can quickly cover long distances with helicopters or hovercrafts.
Should you find yourself standing alone in the pampas despite the generously distributed means of transport, you can call comrades as chauffeurs with just two buttons. A display above your head acts as a virtual hitchhiker's thumb, and vehicle pilots see you specially marked on the map. Anyone who takes other players with them on request receives points, which are converted into frags in the final player statistics. If the passenger even kills opponents during the transport, the bonus increases again. This system works extremely well in practice: there are always enough passenger pilots on the servers; not least because the helicopters can be steered foolproof. The paramedic is also rewarded for medical assistance. Its specialty: it can revive killed teammates directly on the battlefield.
You can read the complete test on Joint Operations in GameStar Edition 09/2004 or online as a pdf.