3am: Joint Operations: Chute Monkeys
TomChick - News - 09/17/04 - Link

Novalogic just announced an expansion pack for Joint Operations. That's great news, isn't it? After all, Joint Ops is easily one of the best multiplayer shooters of the year, with gameplay and technology in many ways better than the Battlefield titles or even Unreal Tournament 2004 with its superlative Onslaught mode. So an expansion is good news! Or is it?

Among the bullet points:
Ceramic Body Armor
What? Does everyone just get more hit points and they call it 'ceramic body armor'? Will this be part of certain weapon kits? Does this mean weapons will be less lethal, lowering the stakes of coming under fire? Will ceramic body armor be a glowing spinning platemail vest that you run over to pick up? And will there be floating spinning health packs as well, or will they be like the canteens in Medal of Honor? Who knows? Personally, I'm happy with the level of lethality in Joint Ops' weapons, so I'd just as soon everyone wear what they've been wearing all along.
Optional 3rd Person weapon view for select vehicles
Well, at least it's just "select vehicles". But part of the charm -- and balance -- of those APCs is that you can't see very much when you're driving or riding in them. Good for Novalogic for actually introducing a disadvantage into the game! Gamers are spoiled! They need to be uncomfortable some time, or unable to see. I liked how this carried over to the other vehicles as well, even if it does bring a smidge of difficulty into helicopter flight by making it hard to see where you're going to land. But a new third person view says to me one thing: "Now we're more like the Battlefield games!"
New vehicles enter the fray: Attack Choppers and Battle Tanks make their debut
The vehicles in Joint Ops did a great job of serving as transportation, forcing players to cooperate if they wanted to use vehicles for extra firepower. Being fast and frail, they struck a wonderful balance in the game, offering advantages over being on foot without making infantry any less useful. Joint Ops is a game about boots on the ground, not butts in pilots' seats. But I can already imagine the lines of people camping for an Apache and an Abrams.

And worst of all:
Players will also be able to make airborne insertions into hot zones via Parachute
Sweet Jesus, please no. The Battlefield games are already goofy with parachutes. People parachuting out of fighters, out of helicopters, off of buildings, from the backs of scooters, through windows, in Berlin, Saigon, Wake Island, even in the tunnels of Chu Lai. The skies, the streets, the jungles are thick with parachutes, falling like snow. But parachutes are evil, a scourge to gameplay. So please go to www.petitiononline.com and sign my petition imploring Novalogic to keep Joint Operations a parachute-free game.

But I have no idea how Novalogic is building these things into the game. They're still just bullet points, so maybe it'll all work out. Ever since Black Hawk Down, Novalogic has continued to surprise me. And a lot of the specifics about the Joint Operations' expansion are surprising indeed, but not in the way I'd hoped. We'll see how it turns out, but for now, we still have two months to play Joint Ops in its pristine parachute-less state.



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