This expansion to Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising is certainly true to its name. Joint Operations Escalation truly gives you the sense that you are part of an escalating conflict. As in Typhoon Rising, the backdrop of Escalation is a civil war in Indonesia with rebels fighting against the loyalist and their western allies. This time however, the rebels have been supplied with tanks and other heavy weapons, so the Joint Operations forces have had to beef up their weapons as well.
Escalation adds new, heavier weapons and vehicles to Joint Operations, as well as new maps on which to use them. The new combat environments are creative and match the scale of the larger weapons now available. New maps to Escalation include an abandoned strip mine (complete with mining equipment), a chemical weapons facility, and a giant airfield. The maps maintain the large scale that previous players of Joint Operations will be used to, boasting that the maps span fifty square kilometers. On most maps, however, the action will only take place on a small percentage of that, insuring that the gameplay will be quick and exciting. Some maps are a bit more sprawling, necessitating the use of various land, sea, and air transports.
The main appeal of Escalation, though, is all the new war materials you can use. What will grab gamer's attention is the inclusion of the heavier vehicles. Added to the already impressive list of vehicles for both sides are tanks and attack helicopters. Unfortunately, the addition of these does not change the dynamic of the gameplay, as players use and defend against in essentially the same way they would other vehicles. Interestingly enough, it is the addition of dirt bikes that has the biggest effect on gameplay. They may not sound like the most glorious of what is new in Escalation, but they allow a driver and passenger to very quickly move around the battlefield.
Escalation also adds a variety of personal weapons and extra equipment that can come in very handy against the enemy. Body armour has been added to give you the ability to take a few more hits from small arms, and you can also choose to take along a parachute if you plan on jumping (or falling) out of any aircraft. A pair of special weapons have been added to deal with vehicles, anti-tank mines and the Javelin personal missile.
Sadly, that's about it. Other than the above and some minor changes and additions (some new character skins), you are still playing the same game. Many fans of Joint Operations may be a little disappointed at how little they get for their buck. Almost all of the new content in Escalation centers around the tanks, so depending on how you play, you may not be getting anything out of this expansion. Though in fairness to Novalogic, Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising was so full of content that it would be difficult finding things to add while keeping the game realistic (i.e. no BFG's).
So if you felt the Typhoon Rising would have been a lot better if it had tanks, than this expansion is exactly what you were looking for. If you are looking for some new maps and weapons to play with, Escalation might be worth looking into. If you want a different experience than you got with the full version of Joint Operations, then you are better off looking elsewhere.