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Mark Marrow
08 Aug, 2006

Joint Task Force Preview

PC Preview | Taking a closer look at the modern day RTS with a few differences.
Originality is a rarity in real time strategy these days - it’s often a point of discussion between hardcore gamers, and something that gaming journalists often criticise. The lack of innovation in the genre is slowly becoming an issue that’ll eventually force the genre into the dirt. Unless, of course, companies continue to think outside of the box and offer a bit more aside from the typical base-building and resource-gathering structure. Joint Task Force, which won’t be released until later next month, is on the way to being such a title. The game opts for a much more strategic approach, rather than basing its gameplay on the fundamentals of the genre.

The gameplay of Joint Task Force is a tad different to anything else witnessed in the RTS genre. Kissing goodbye to typical RTS traits, the title relies on gamers to focus on tactics and outwitting their opponent. Eliminating any possibilities of flooding or playing defensive, since your units are a lot less disposable, you’ll have to position your units strategically behind cover throughout the course of the game to avoid damage. So, rather than rushing all your troops into battle at once, it’s better to optimise your surroundings by issuing your units behind cover, or flushing out enemies with dirty tactics. If you lack the initiative to exploit your enemies, then you’ll ultimately have trouble destroying your foe before they destroy you. Joint Task Force is more of a battle of wits, rather than your ability to conjure up an army before your opponent.

In each level, you’ll receive only a certain amount of units to control. These will often vary between tanks, riflemen, snipers and even medics. There'll be occasions where you’ll be faced with a difficult task - say, only designated a handful of infantry units - which means it’s best to take advantage of everything that can be used. During our playtime, we were faced with a number of difficult tasks where we had to issue out a few tactical moves to flush out our enemy. In one passage of play, we positioned our tanks in front of the enemy, while our infantry ran from behind a building. While the tanks progressed towards the enemy, causing the opposition to devoted their attention to them, our infantry were eventually ready to pounce on the enemy for a surprise attack from behind. So, rather than facing our enemy head-on with all our troops, we reduced our casualties by using our tanks as a distraction.

Modern war never looked so appealing.

Modern war never looked so appealing.
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Aside from using dirty tactics to progress further, there will often be a host of difficult situations that gamers will face throughout the game. You’ll often find yourself running through hostile territory, infiltrating buildings full of terrorists, or tracking down key enemy targets. On one occasion we found ourselves trying to escort U.N peacekeeper trucks to nearby villagers. However, scattered throughout the level were long-ranged missile cannons. So, passing on the thought of having our trucks destroyed, we decided to swiftly take out each cannon with our infantry troops. This meant we had to issue our units to scale up nearby mountains to destroy the cannons without being detected and killed, which eventually gave us access to pass through the level untouched.

Rather than building bases and recruiting more and more units, you’ll be given a certain amount of cash (or no cash) before each level. This money can later be used to call in reinforcements, such as additional tanks, medics, rangers or bomb squads. Inside each level, there are often several main missions within themselves. Once successful in these missions, you’ll be rewarded with extra cash and be able to call in extra reinforcements. In addition, there are optional missions to fulfil that’ll also boost your money. You don’t have an endless flow of units to throw around, so it’s important to use each and every one of your units effectively, and hopefully not allow too many of them to die.

One of the key factors of trying to make a game successful with such reliance on tactical gameplay is whether or not the A.I can keep up with your orders and not ruin your entire strategy. Thankfully, from what we witnessed, the A.I in Joint Task Force is actually quite solid. The reaction level for your units and enemies corresponds with their surroundings - if they are being fired at they’ll run for the closest cover or duck to avoid damage. Each unit has a certain view radius too. This can be used to your advantage, as you can often jump between cover and flank the enemy before you come into their line of sight.

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, yeah!

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, yeah!
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Aside from the single-player, Joint Task Force will come with a multiplayer mode. Of what we played, it just seems like a different take on the single-player. You'll only be given maybe a dozen units before each game, and then it’s a continuous battle to claim vital key points and eliminate the enemy. There's a great variety of modes to choose from that broaden the appeal of the mode slightly, but we never found ourselves enjoying it as much as the deep single-player campaign.

That’s what Joint Task Force comes down to though - whether it can stand the test of time. While it was fun at first to run around using all sorts of tactics to flood out our enemies from buildings, it’s difficult to say whether this sort of gameplay could be fun throughout the entire game and go on to influence future games in this genre. We'll soon find out though, with the demo expected for release in a couple of weeks, and the game due in stores next month.
Overall:
Joint Task Force looks like it could be one of the most unqiue RTS games for several years. However, there are still a few concerns on whether the gameplay can maintain its freshness.

Related Joint Task Force Content

Joint Task Force Review
18 Sep, 2006 A modern day RTS worth checking out?
Xbox 360 - Wait and See
23 Mar, 2006 Nick suggests leaving that 360 purchase a while...
Updated European Release List - 13/06/05
14 Jun, 2005 Because we love you.
3 Comments
7 years ago
i think this will work well in single player but im not so sure about multiplayer. time will tell.
7 years ago
We had to put up marketing for this game in store, and I was like WTF IS THIS GAME?
7 years ago
Sounds very similar to ground control.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  Out Now
European Release Date:
  Out Now
Publisher:
  Vivendi Universal
Developer:
  Mithis Games

Read more...
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