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Joint Task Force PC DVD-ROM

Published by Vivendi
Developed by Mithis Entertainment
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £34.99

Joint Task Force, an introduction

The fight against terrorism has unfortunately been one of the major concerns of the twenty-first century. Even though we are less than a decade into the century there have already been terrorist atrocities that have left an ugly scar on this century. It’s no surprise then that the fight against terrorism has become a popular theme for the game industry. FPS and RTS games have already had several titles that put the gamer in the role of combating terrorism and Joint Task Force is the latest title to do so. 

What’s the game about?

Essentially the story in Joint Task Force takes the present day political situation and gives its own version of events up to 2008. The US and its allies are overly concerned with anti-terrorism to counter the terrorist attacks that are plotted by eastern dictators. Global problems such as the effects of pollution and a burgeoning worldwide population that exacerbates the problems of famine and unemployment only serve to increase tensions with the comparatively wealthy western world. Naturally with such a scenario, a special organisation is needed to quash any uprisings and take care of the most volatile regions in the world and that organisation is the Joint Task Force. The single-player game offers a campaign, scenario and skirmish mode whilst the multiplayer options (for LAN or Internet) include Deathmatch, Domination, Battle Royal and co-operative (which allows friends to play through the campaign together).

What’s good about the game?

I suspect the most appealing aspect of Joint Task Force is that you get to use a lot of real life vehicles and military hardware. The game has licensed hardware from such companies as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman. You’ll get to control Humvees, M2A3 IFV Bradley tanks, M1A2 Abrams battle tanks and the AH-64 Apache helicopter and these are just some of the real life military vehicles at your disposal. To add a further sense of ‘realism’ to the game you’ll visit several locations that have varying kinds of terrain. You’ll have to go to places such as Bosnia and Afghanistan over the course of the campaign’s 20 or so missions with the terrains ranging from deserts to tundra.  To further add a real world feel you’ll have to put up with being in the spotlight of the media as a journalist comments on your actions. Kill innocent civilians and you’ll give a bad impression of the Joint Task Force which could affect the unit’s future funding.

It’s difficult for RTS games to stand out from the crowd these days but thankfully Joint Task Force does manage to have a slightly different feel to it. Like a lot of recent RTS games, the act of having to build a base has been done away with. You earn cash for completing objectives and you’ll use this cash to pay for reinforcements during a mission. There’s no resource collecting either. Units gain experience and level up. Should your soldiers reach level 5 they can be promoted to a Hero. Heroes can acquire special abilities as they level up (to level 10 eventually) and can be carried into other missions. You’ll always have a Hero unit in a mission as they are the ones that can call for reinforcements and these units are the key to your success. Being able to develop extra Heroes can definitely give you an advantage and being able to take them between missions (as well as the ability for them to gain extra abilities) is a nice touch.

What’s bad about the game?

The AI path finding could have been better as your units sometimes take a less than obvious route meaning you’ll need to monitor their manoeuvres more than you would like and this can get a little tiring. The enemy AI is not always as sharp as it could be and tends to rely on ambush tactics a little too much. Earlier reviews of the game have reported long loading times and certain instabilities. In all honesty we began playing the game with the first update installed and did not encounter either problem. The downside is that the update is going to take a while to download, if you're not using a broadband connection as it weighs in at around 190MB.

How does it look?

Whilst early 3D RTS games were pretty ugly looking, in recent times this has begun to change and now 3D RTS games are beginning to look impressive. Joint Task Force features certainly looks good, especially if you have a PC with enough graphical horsepower. However, even if you have a less than stellar PC configuration it’s still possible to enjoy the game and having it looking very good. I played the game with a PC configuration of a Pentium 4 2.8GHz, an ATi Radeon 9600 Pro and 512MB RAM.  I ran the game quite at a screen resolution of 1024x768 with all graphical details set to maximum with the exception of the shadows (which were on medium), anti-aliasing (which was turned off) and anisotropic filtering (which was set to 4X). The frame rate remained smooth almost all of the time, which is quite impressive considering the amount of RAM is fairly low and the graphics card is actually a few generations behind now.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Joint Task Force lacks any kind of visual clues for noises and sound effects but in every other sense the game is fine for deaf gamers. Subtitles are available but they are disabled by default. Once enabled the tutorial, the cutscenes and all of the important comments made during the main game are shown in text. Comments from the main characters are shown with character portraits being placed alongside the dialogue. Mission briefings are shown in text. Mission objectives are shown in text and they can be recalled at any time. You’re also notified in text when objectives have been completed and when new objectives have been given. The comments that your units make when you issue them orders are not subtitled. Likewise the comments made from the news reporter that appears on the top left of the screen from time to time are not subtitled. These omissions are unfortunate but don’t cause any problems.

Final thoughts.

The RTS genre has been overcrowded for some time now and most games that arrive tend to do little to add some kind of innovation that makes them stand head and shoulders above the competition. In truth Joint Task Force doesn’t really have anything you won’t have seen before in a RTS. That doesn’t prevent it from being an enjoyable game however and it certainly makes a change to have real life military units in the game instead of fictitious ones. Some areas of the game, such as the path finding, could have been better but on the whole it’s a good addition to the RTS genre and thanks to the option to play co-operatively, it’s as enjoyable as a single or multiplayer game.

Overall Game Rating: 7.9/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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If you're looking for an enjoyable RTS that allows you to get your hands on real world military hardware and fight in locations that have been real life battle zones in recent years then Joint Task Force is definitely well worth a look.