Joint Operations: Escalation
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For The first half hour of playing Joint Ops: Escalation, I absolutely despised it. You see, until this expansion came along, I was one of the people you probably hate: a craven, opportunistic sniper taking potshots from behind a tree half a kilometre away from the real action. I know it was a callow, lily-livered way to behave, but I just couldn't help myself - the game positively encouraged it.
Escalation has put an end to all that, crippling the role of snipers and forcing my kind to play the game properly. And you know what? It feels great.
If you're yet to taste the pleasures of Joint Ops, it's essentially a larger-modern-day variant of Battlefield. Up until now, it's been a sniper's paradise, but even I'm willing to admit this was a major flaw. Escalation not only makes snipers easier to spot, it removes the adjustable zoom from scoped rifles and adds a disorienting 'drift' when you go into scope view. The result is that sniping is now no fun at all, and very few players are going to use it as their default class.
However, this is a mere aside compared to some of the other changes - Escalation alters Joint Ops so radically, it's almost a new game. For a start, there are now great big tanks-M1A1 Abrams and T-80s. With firepower greater than anything k seen in Joint Ops before, I these buggers don't just add ' options, they shift the game into full-blown warfare.
More significant still are the dirt bikes. Agile and arcade to control, these zippy two-wheelers are superb, speeding up the action and cutting down transit time immensely. You can even have a buddy riding pillion with no loss of mobility, making drive-by shootings commonplace.
Two-man attack helicopters are also in the piece, along with a parachute accessory for emergency bailouts (or coordinated para-drops). Nifty Javelin missiles and anti-tank mines help balance the tanks, while a clutch of new guns and body armour round out the deal.
The result of all these changes is profound. The game feels far more complete - better balanced, more tactical and with greater emphasis on teamwork. What's more, the new vehicles completely change the way the game's played. The speed of the dirt bikes means lightning raids can happen at any moment, necessitating vigilant baseguarding. Tanks can dominate a map in minutes if not adequately defended against. Even the terrain has altered, shifting away from the swampy, waterlogged style in Joint Ops in favour of a drier and more open feel.
Unfortunately, there's still only one decent game type -Advance And Secure - while the communication and squad options remain inadequate. And while being able to select three different types of ammo is nice, it seems too hardcore to me by far. On balance however, the changes and additions here are excellent. On current form, I'd rather play this than any Battlefield game, and with sniping ruined, that's definitely saying something.
Download Joint Operations: Escalation
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP