Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad
What was once a timely setting for a squad-based shooter (the first Desert Storm deployed during the twilight of U.N. weapons inspections) no longer seems like the most appropriate context for entertainment. Sure, the conflict in question is a decade old and not the war unfolding in today's headlines, but in light of continued casualties, it's worth considering even if it didn't affect the score I gave the game. Politics aside, Desert Storm II is a flawed operation with a few moments of valor. Switching on the fly between each of your four specialists--sniping, demolitions, small arms, and heavy weapons experts--keeps the action interesting, while immense and active environments (much improved over the last outing) help capture the chaos of combat. When Iraqi soldiers ambush you amid swirling desert sand and the nerve-racking rumble of approaching armor, it's hard to keep a level head. Unfortunately, much of the disorder is unintentional. Like some half-assed high-school theater production, nothing works as it should and no one seems to be doing the right thing. When they're not refusing to follow orders, members of your squad stand in the street passively taking fire, and enemies at turrets won't turn around when flanked (talk about sticking to your guns). Then you have displays of stupidity so flagrant, they nearly defy description (see sidebar below). With so many similar games getting it right, overlooking the Desert Storm series' flaws is harder than ever.
The best--and perhaps only--way to get through Conflict's grueling, linear missions is via trial and error. Oh, there's a tank there? Mental note. And three hostiles around this corner, and a sniper up there? Got it. Once you've memorized the terrain and the enemy's positions, having been killed by them a few times, you simply reload your most recent save, choose the right weapon for the job, and let the auto-aim do the rest. Unless you have some fixation on the Gulf War specifically, there's no reason to play Desert Storm over prettier, deeper, and more engaging military-themed shooters like Rainbow Six 3, Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, or SOCOMII.
Let's get this out of the way: Desert Storm II is far from perfect. Spotty A.I. (infecting both your squadmates and enemies) mucks up the action, and balls-out run-and-gun gameplay sometimes works better than sound tactical strategy. The graphics aren't all that hot, either. That said, the game still improves on its predecessor with a solid variety of missions that are actually fun to play through, though a little frustrating. Ultimately, it'll appeal more to someone who isn't particularly interested in constantly issuing dozens of commands or taking 10 minutes to walk five yards through a city. Plus, the addition of splitscreen cooperative play ekes out a little extra longevity. Definitely worth a rental if you're craving some urban combat.
Back to Bughdad
No war unfolds exactly as planned, but it's Desert Storm It's improbably glitchy gameplay that guarantees this battle a place in the annals of martial mistakes. While serving Uncle Sam, we saw spotlights shine through solid concrete, walls shoot, and enemies materialize from thin air. Who knows, perhaps it was all some kind of Iraqi psy-ops?
Download Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad
In a game torn from yesterday's headlines, your squad of four troopers airdrops into mostly urban war zones to tackle three times as many Iraqis as in the original.
HOW WAS IT?
"Enemies and teammates no longer just stand in the open--they take cover before they fire now," Producer Marc Nesbitt says of Desert Storm It's improved computer smarts. Funny, but I didn't notice any boost in brainpower in the version I tried.
It's often said that timing is everything and it could not be truer than with Conflict: Desert Storm II ' Back to Baghdad. Perhaps it's just a coincidence, but Conflict: Desert Storm II for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox arrived at an ideal time: right in the middle of America's war in Iraq. Games like these that are current with world affairs are quite rare, that's why it's a bit odd to see the GameCube version just coming out since Saddam Hussein has been captured and the war is effectively over. Even if it's a little late to the party, Conflict: Desert Storm II will be a welcome site to some GameCube owners.
With the current events that have taken over the headlines, logical thinking would imply that Conflict: Desert Storm II would coincide with the events that just took place. Logical thinking can sometimes be a liar, however, because you're takin' over daddy Bush's war. Still, Conflict does a good job of finding its niche in a crowded tactical market, as it strikes a balance between tactical realism and arcade action. Tactical strategy can definitely be enforced here since each of the four members of your task force has sharply unique abilities, but you can also opt for frantic, blood pumping action if you prefer ' both styles work here.
Despite the versatile nature of the game, there are still some substantial problems. The AI is decent, but just decent is a shortcoming in a tactical game like this. Your allies are usually competent, unlike enemies who can be easily mowed down, but since they arrive in masses, there's still a significant challenge. Fortunately (or not), you have the overly helpful auto-aiming system on your side. When in the third-person view, it'll often aim you in the direction of foes that are nearly out of your field of view, trivializing things greatly. In comparison, however, the first person view (which doesn't have auto-aim implemented) can feel clunky and sluggish.
Overall, things feel a bit sloppy and even a bit dull with one controller plugged in, but plug in three more and you'll see where the appeal lies. The cooperative play adds a new dimension to the game - a dimension that takes away a lot of the glaring problems of the single player experience. If you have three other friends who can stick it out for the long haul, then Conflict will offer much more in comparison to going it alone.
Unfortunately, Conflict: Desert Storm II doesn't have much going for it in the way of graphics, with the most notable culprit being the sparsely detailed environments. After running through the 100th war torn street of Iraq, you'll likely wish there had been a little bit more variety in the visuals. Likewise, other stumbling blocks such as the un-fluid animation and the unspectacular lighting effects mean that Conflict will rarely rise above mediocrity in the visuals department.
If you're looking for an engrossing single player experience, then Conflict: Desert Storm II may not be your best bet since there are alternatives out there that surpass many of Conflict's features. However, if you're looking for a fun and addictive cooperative game in the vein of SOCOM II, then Conflict: Desert Storm II won't disappoint.