Joint Operations: Escalation is the fantastic expansion pack to Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising which allows up to 150 gamers to shoot at each other online. It's not just a free-for-all, there are co-op missions that require extensive teamwork. As a shooter you don't have to worry about turn-based combat or real time strategies. Joint Operations: Escalation is all about action.

Some gamers express concern over certain flaws in the original game's design such as the ability of the sniper to easily take out enemies with little consequence to himself. Primarily the game was out of balance with some players more at risk than others. These were obvious oversights that the developer were unaware of until real gamers moved in and started exploring, experimenting and ultimately taking advantage of every single flaw. Escalation hasn't fixed everything but it's cleaned up a lot of glitches, making for a more balanced and realistic game. It's a giant leap in the right direction.

With new missions the game also features new weapons, ammo, armor, vehicles and other features such as the ability to use parachutes when shot down in a chopper and spawning in protected areas. Using the parachutes gives you a little bit of hope but it's still a slow process reaching the ground which means you might just get gunned down yet.

Weapons include the Glock 17, the MK-23 pistol and the new all-purpose G-36. Snipers are going to have a more difficult time as their shots will be more prone to drift and the trajectory arc. You can't just kill someone by shooting them in the leg anymore.

Tanks and choppers are extremely useful and lethal but the pilot is incapable of shooting. Only the gunner can dish out the ammo but he's exposed and vulnerable. The choppers can take a few missile hits but they are fast and flexible. The tanks are slower but can really take a lot of abuse. Moving the cannon around takes a lot of time especially if you have to go from extreme left to right or vice versa. Mines can certainly do some destruction to the tanks but you have to get close enough to surround the tank with mines so that it can't move in any direction.

Dirt bikes are a new and most welcome addition. They are fast and highly maneuverable. Only the rider can shoot but as long as you're strafing it's a really hard target to hit and can certainly inflict a lot of damage. Controlling the bike is fairly easy. The controls are straightforward and somewhat forgiving. Just be careful you don't plow into another vehicle because you won't stand a chance.

In some respects the accuracy of the rifles is too efficient. It's much too simple to hit distant, moving targets. That may be fine for you but it's frustrating when you keep getting hit from what you consider to be a safe distance. Wear your body armor and keep yourself hidden if you know what's best for you. Unfortunately there is some lag between commands and execution. It's not that you move slowly, it's that you won't move at all at time, only to magically appear a few feet away from where you were when you gave the command.

Despite this and some clipping as well as some low res graphics the game holds up pretty well for such an ambitious undertaking. The map is extremely large and offers countless hours of gameplay. Since it's played online with more than 100 people, every visit is a new experience.

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System: PC
Dev: Novalogic
Pub: Novalogic
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1 - 150 Online
Review by Stew XX