Joint Task Force PC Review
We’ll be honest; we have not really kept up to date with all the events surrounding the development and release of Vivendi’s latest title – Joint Task Force. It never really stood out amongst of the crowd of other games hitting the RTS saturated market. But after getting our hands on the game and spending some quality time with it we got to admit the game does have an air of quality around with some interesting new aspects that make it stand out from the ever expanding crowd.
Joint Task Force puts gamers in the shoes of frontline forces who make it their job to take care of some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous conflicts. The single player campaign consists of 5 scenarios set in Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Colombia and Iraq. Due to fighting in these areas many different terrain types come in to play such as deserts, rocky mountains, jungles and others all of which require you to use different tactics to garner the best results.
Joint Task Force starts off by ripping out many RTS mainstays to change the way you play the game. The two biggest changes are the removal of both base-building and resource-gathering which will make any RTS veteran change their approach towards the oncoming battle. For me the changes meant I focused more on the tactics of each battle (and I am sure this will be the same for others who choose to play the game). The new layout makes you play the game as close as possible to real war situations, you must search for cover and you must be smart in choosing which units you use to go up against the enemy. Snipers, riflemen, medics, engineers all must be used to the best of your ability in the right locations, long-range units now also play a much bigger part that they do in other RTS games.
Stances for the infantry also play an important role, for example lying down in some undergrowth gives you a huge upper hand as it renders you nearly invisible to the enemy. The game also forces you to keep the primary officer of each unit alive at all times as they are the only one able to order inventory, any stuff ordered will them be brought in by helicopter after about two minutes. The officers also have a skill tree that can be improved over time, making them stronger as you advance. This skill tree also gives you the option to customize the game’s lead character slightly which is a nice touch.
The big selling point of JTF is the addition of the media keeping score on everything that’s happening on the battlefield. With the media watching your actions at all times you are forced to fight the rebel forces realistically and avoid civilian casualties at all costs. This is all done via a little screen in the top corner of the screen that displays news feeds hinting at how your current actions have affected they way the media views your team. If the media sees too much bending of the rules of engagement then the funding you receive will be lowered. It’s a good idea to stay on the right side of the media by doing some of the optional missions within each level.
With this funding you can then purchase artillery, vehicles such as army-advanced Hummers, and additional forces, including rangers, commandos, marksman, combat medics, and engineers. Seeing as there is no base-building and resource-gathering in the game the more funding you can get the better so you are more or less forced to play the game as media friendly as possible, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how you like to approach RTS games. There’s also a small meter on screen at all times that measures your reputation with the press and will fluctuate throughout the game. Another plus point of the game is that it includes officially licensed vehicles and weapons systems that are used on real battlefields from major defence contractors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Sikorsky.
Finally, as with most RTS games, JTF has a number of different modes to play through; a campaign mode, skirmish modes and multiplayer options. Campaign offers twenty missions to play through and as usual the difficultly is on the up and up the further you advance. The campaign mode can also be played in Cooperative play; with a second player you must change how you approach the battles. The co-op addition more-or-less gives you another 20 missions to play though if you have a like-minded JTF loving friend.
Skirmish and multiplayer modes take key, familiar locations from the main game and let you play through them. While playing Skirmish against the computer I got bored after a few attempts as for some reason the AI seemed lowered and it was not very challenging. Lastly, multiplayer offers customizable options such as a money cap, domination, deathmatch, and a few others to try and keep you and some friends entertained when you finally beat the main campaign.
Graphically, Joint Task Force does a good job of filling your computer monitor with some high quality eye candy. A quick look at the screen shots on the left will give you some idea of what to expect but when seen in motion the game does look significantly better. MW has also used some nice special effect to make the game look that little bit better. Some of the nicest looking parts are when it rains during gameplay, the effect used makes the battlefield look completely different that it did when there was not a cloud in the sky. Objects, such as fences can be knocked over as your troop marches on through the battlefield. The game also has some nice quality explosions. The characters on screen are also very detailed, they move around realistically and they die realistically. The quality of the animation in the game seems like it would be more at home in a FPS rather than a RTS, it is most definitely a step forward for the genre.
Disappointingly this high quality does not continue into the game user interface as it is rather clunky and uninspired when viewed in comparison with everything else the game has to offer. The game’s music and voice work also leaves a lot to be desired. None of the game’s compositions really seem epic enough to suit what’s happening during the course of the adventure and the voice work seems like it was done by a collection of Z-list voice actors doing a bad job of impersonating different accents from around the world. The good quality sound effects try, to some extent to make up for these other shortcomings as they all seem to sound realistic with good bass and oomph when needed.
Before I got my hands on this game I was spending some quality time with Command & Conquer: The First Decade. After swapping the disc out it took about 20 minutes of play to get used to the new layout and style of JTF and from there on the fun factor of the single player campaign was very high. Joint Task Force felt no way inferior what I had played before hand, and I believe that is greatest compliment that I can give the game as I have been one of C&C biggest fans over the past few years. But be warned it is a very different and much harder game to play.
Bonjour everyone! Don’t worry. Everything is bon! We stopped the terrorists.