Many people have always found video games more enjoyable when your opponent is another human being. Computer controlled enemies don't get your adrenaline pumping the way that another person with the same reflects and instincts can. In recent years, the number of players playing a single game together has been increasing dramatically. Now we have NovaLogic's Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising, a game in which you fill the role of a rank and file soldier in a small army comprised of other human controlled soldiers fighting against even more human players. The opening sequence (done in the gameplay style) gives you a great sense of the scale of the game, while sea borne transports carry troops and vehicles and drop them off on the coast right into the thick of battle.
The conflicts in Typhoon Rising take place in Indonesia, pitting the archipelago's loyalist forces and UN allies against separatists and ex-military. The two sides have clear ideological differences, as well as the equipment available to them. After choosing which side to fight for, players can then set their appearance (both visual and audible) by selecting which specific special force they like (US Delta Force, UK SAS, Indonesian Kopassus, among others). There are five class the player can choose in game that affect their role in the force; rifleman, gunner, engineer, sniper, and medic. The different classes have access to different equipment and weapons, Once this is done, can set up a game for themselves and some friends over the net or a LAN, or can log in to NovaLogic's NovaWorld and battle it out with hundreds of players world wide.
Veterans of online first person shooters will take to this game like ducks to water, but this game can be a bit daunting at first to people who aren't used to the massive number of other players. Fear not, as you will quickly get immersed in the superb gameplay. The training missions are great at teaching the mechanics of the game, but people who opt to just dive in will be able to pick these things up quickly on their own or with the help of the other players.
It isn't hard finding people to play with. NovaWorld makes it very easy to find a game that's just right for you (on the map you like, with the number of people you like, and so on) or find other players. The game has quite the following and it's not difficult to find a game with a large number of people in it. I mean large. NovaLogic boasts that each server can handle up to 150 players, and they are right to do so. Even with so many people on one server, Typhoon Rising runs as smoothly as it does with a quarter of that number.
For a game of this scale, the graphics are marvelous. The level of detail on the characters, vehicles, weapons, and static objects (buildings, flora) is very high without causing any slow down in gameplay. The weapon effects are great. Rockets fly realistically and leave great smoke trails. Tracers rounds zip by, and mortars cause great explosions. The sounds that accompany these effects are also very good. The first time you hear the bullets hitting the dirt around, you'll instinctively want to dive for cover (which is a good idea in the game). The music in game in well done, it's there and it adds to the game, but it's not so intrusive that it distracts you from the gameplay. In fact, you can play for hours without even consciously registering the music.
One of the view complaints I have about this game is the voice acting. There is a lot of it. The tutorials have helpful audio instructions and each player has a long list of very helpful voice emotes. These emotes are incredibly handy, and you'll find yourself using them constantly. For the most part, they're pretty good, but a lot of the international accents are done poorly, to the point that it's hard to tell one nationality from another. This has little effect on the actual gameplay however, as all of the emotes are delivered clearly. It just would have been nice to see the same level of quality put in here as in the rest of the game.
The cons list for Typhoon Rising is fairly short. Account setup and logging into NovaWorld is a bit of a hassle, and you'll occasionally find yourself kicked back to the main menu while trying to log in. This isn't a big issue as the load times are short. Once you're in game, the servers seem pretty stable and players never seemed to get dropped from a game. The training levels are good, but tend to be a little bit to difficult for training. It's like being thrown to the wolves; you can be killed and fail the training missions, which can be frustrating as you are trying to do the mission so that you can learn the skills.
It wouldn't be fair to the people at NovaLogic not to mention the manual for this game. More and more frequently, games are being released with little or no documentation in the box. The full color manual for Typhoon Rising contains lots of great information both about the game and about the background of the conflict. It is more than just a brochure to look at during installation. The in game reference is also well implemented. It's easy to pull up the map legend or keyboard controls. NovaLogic also included a keyboard overlay that lists the functions of some important keys, which is great if you're in the heat of battle looking the button to call a medic.
NovaLogic put a lot of work into this title and it's paid off. On the back of Typhoon Rising's package it reads "Don't re-live history, Make it!" NovaLogic has certainly done that with this game. Creative, very well put together, and a lot of fun to play, if NovaLogic continues to maintain and update it well, Joint Operations: Typhoon Rising is sure to be a hit with players for a long time to come.