Conflict: Desert Storm 2
In my heart of hearts, I can't help but feel that with Conflict: Desert Storm II I should probably be dancing naked around the bonfire of negativity, throwing burning sticks of hate on to the rising flame of critique. It is, after all, an extremely linear arcade shooter masquerading as a deeper, tactical, strategic military simulation, and nothing, nothing, gets my goat more than arcade mutton dressed up as simulation lamb.
Yes, I should be tearing strips from its hide, but frankly it just doesn't deserve it. It doesn't deserve unilateral praise either, but as a way of passing a few hours, there are worse options.
You may remember the original CDS: an extremely yellow game, based mostly on controlling four SAS troopers (or Delta Force operatives if you wanted the Americanised experience) blowing up SCUD missile launchers in the deserts of Iraq during the first UN foray into Saddam's playpen of death.
CDSII is set during the same timeframe, with the same soldiers. Fewer SCUDs, though, and more variety. Rescuing trapped soldiers, destroying communications facilities, escaping from capture - and barely a sand dune in sight. A couple, maybe, but the developer has listened to feedback from the first and really made an effort to keep things interesting this time round.
What's not so good is the actual structure of these levels. Once again, you have the illusion of freedom on offer here, something heightened by the ability to give orders to all four of your squad-mates at once, all of whom sport much more impressive Al than that found in many other games of this ilk.
It's not freedom in the Operation Flashpoint 'do what you want, go where you want' manner. It's more, 'choose the best way of getting round that comer and only that comer'. The whole game is still very much on rails, which brings the whole thing crashing down to an arcade level quicker than putting the word Extreme in the title.
As long as you can live with the overall shallowness of it all, there is a lot to admire here. The action is relentless and challenging, even if enemy spawn points are obvious to locate and further break down the immersion factor. The control system, initially as confusing as the Greek legal system, becomes second nature quickly, even if it's mostly just used as a way of positioning your team to set up effective 'kill zones'.
The enemy Al works as well as your own team's, with bad guys making good use of cover, lobbing grenades to try to pin you down and generally behaving like the ill-trained Iraqi soldiers they represent.
Ultimately it's an improvement over the previous game -a million light years better than Delta Force: Black Hawk Down -but it's still nowhere near as involving as Operation Flashpoint. Oh, and Hidden & Dangerous II should piss all over it - if it ever shows up.
Download Conflict: Desert Storm 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP