Joint Task Force Preview

By Billy Wang, GN Writer

The setting of an RTS game has to be captivating and intriguing. While some famous strategy games took place in sci-fi settings, plenty others took place during past, present, or future real-life settings. It must be something in the air when one plays a strategy game with a historical background, because it makes the game much more enjoyable. Most Wanted Entertainment’s upcoming RTS, Joint Task Force, will be taking several on-going military situations and reinventing them for players to go through. The game also officially licenses vehicles and weapons systems from several contractors, including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Sikorsky, for the player to use during missions, creating one of the most authentic RTS experiences to date.

Even though Joint Task Force is a strategy game, there is no resource accumulation here. Instead, money is generated in-game when your squad completes missions or objectives. With this money, you can upgrade your squad’s weaponry, buy better vehicles, or hire more members when one dies. The game also combines an RPG aspect where your squad gains experience points when they successfully complete missions or kill enemies. In turn, these experience points leads to gaining levels. Generic soldiers or grunts—after gaining some levels—can easily turn themselves into the next Arnold Schwarzenegger-like action hero, with plenty of weapons and tactics to take down small armies singlehandedly. For example, O’Connell (your main character) gains more abilities as he gains levels. Abilities include things such as improving his squad’s defensive and offensive capabilities, healing himself, calling in air strikes, becoming an expert with small arms, and increasing his vision and viewpoint. Another example is your squad’s medic. At first, he’ll only be able to heal others, but after a level up or two he can heal himself.

A demo was released last week sampling two levels from the game. During each mission, your squad is given an approval rating from the media, which also adds to the strategy element of the game. If you perform your mission successfully or save civilians from being killed, the approval will go up. But if you hastily go through your missions, avoid objectives, or let innocents die, the approval rating will decrease. This approval rating is directly connected to funds you accumulate during each mission.

One mission takes place in Somalia, where your squad has to take over a captured Somalian port. The first thing I noticed was the on-the-spot news reports that automatically generate when your mission progresses. If you take some time to explore, a news report will air saying—using better terminology then what I’m about to use—"What’s the big friggin’ hold up?" Since your squad is airlifted pretty discreetly, the enemy is oblivious and is spread out around the whole level. This proves as the advantage, since your squad is relatively small, and taking on small amounts of enemies is much better. You can use vehicles (mainly just cars that are in the port) to your advantage; pile your squad in and use the gun-ho mentality of crashing into the enemy forces head on, for example. About halfway through the mission, the weather changes from clear to rain. This showcases the game engine’s ability in creating weather, and I have to say, the rain doesn’t slowdown performance and makes the game more pleasing to the eye.

The visuals for the game are very detailed. I have to give praise to the water effects; they are superb. Waves crashing against the port walls, and the sun reflecting back from the water, give the level a sense of tranquility before all hell breaks loose. Take down some enemies and watch their bodies flop over, courtesy of the rag-doll physics. Add explosions into the mix, and watch some bodies fly around the screen. Since the viewpoint is top-down, aircraft is at the top of the screen, and closest to the camera. But keep your eyes on the aircrafts in the game, because the detail is amazing. Helicopters are outfitted with soldiers manning the helicopter’s mini-guns, and onboard med kits can be seen in the sitting area.

In my experiences with the demo, I felt the UI was a little clumsy, though. It seemed that several of its functions could have been streamlined better. Some specific abilities were hard to access during critical moments because I had to click through several on-screen menus before they were available to activate. The demo also forces all players to install drivers for the AGEIA PhysX, even if they don’t own one. So that definitely is another issue to watch out for.

Joint Task Force is scheduled for a September 12 release. The entire game will feature five campaigns: Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Colombia, with a total of 20 missions.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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