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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Gathering

 

Developer

Pivotal

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q1 2004

 

 

- Simple enough yet excellent level of challenge

- Fair AI

- Non annoying voice acting

- Tension of gun battles well represented

- Surprisingly not jingoistic

 

 

- Not the first choice in the genre

- Graphics only serviceable

- No online play

- A guilty pleasure

 

 

Review: Conflict Desert Storm (GC)

Review: Hunter - The Reckoning (GC)

Review: SOCOM II (PS2)

 

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Conflict Desert Storm II:

Back to Baghdad

Score: 7.9 / 10

 

I know that not having played SOCOM too much and not having played SOCOM 2 at all, will probably make people think Iím batty for giving this game such a high score. After all, what better shooter, much less squad based and based on an army theme is better right now. Right, so that being said for those of you without a PS2 and who have stuck loyally by Nintendo have little else to choose but Conflict Desert Storm II. Rainbow Six 3 notwithstanding, Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad (CDS2) is likely the most fun squad based action game based on a Special Forces unit that you will play on the GameCube.

 

back to baghdad      back to baghdad      back to baghdad

 

The unit in question is a Delta Special Forces unit consisting of four characters which you the player will control. I donít know if these characters are based on real life soldiers, but within your control, you will have the basic squad leader and rifleman, heavy weapons expert, sniper, and demolitions expert. The events that these characters follow hearken back to the United States first tussle in Iraq despite the title.

 

There is a tutorial in the game, which does serve to familiarize the player with the controls. This is quite helpful, as there quite a lot of complex actions and commands that can be used. The meat of the game is in the single player portion where your squad must accomplish varying mission objectives and negotiate different environments and conditions. There is a multiplayer portion but the lack of online support sets this game down a grade from the premier tactical shooters of today.

 

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The control scheme has been fairly well laid out as switching between members of your squad is quick and easy. Issuing orders is a little bit trickier and can take some time to get used to. The primary problem with the control is that your characters cannot move while issuing orders or changing what items they are holding in their hands. Overall, I believe the control layout could have been a little bit better, and the fact that the controller cannot be mapped but instead has default layouts which the player can choose from only adds to the problems of an otherwise fairly solid control scheme.

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The tactical aspect of CDS2 is about the right level for players not wanting the level of command and nit-picking frustration that is Rainbow Six 3, yet wanting at least a modicum of strategy while blasting Iraqi troops. If you separate your troops enough so that they are all able to lay down covering fire for each other, then there should not be any problems with your strategic element. The greatest challenge in getting past certain regiments must be taking down enemy armor regiments which have tanks. In such cases, your strategy for taking down tanks requires all of your squad mates, as well as a couple of tries.

 

The enemy AI is serviceable yet not foolproof, as at times, they will run in a zig zag pattern about ten to twenty feet away from you as to get a better shot at your squad, all the while with you are right there mowing them down. Generally though, the AI reacts very well as they will attempt to flank your position, and will throw grenades at you if you are hunkered down behind cover.

 

What CDS2 does very well though, is provide a great sense of action with just enough of a strategic element thrown in to keep it from devolving into a bullet ridden mess. There is an immense sense of satisfaction to be had in securing an area through simple and straightforward yet strategic execution of taking down the enemy. At the same time, there is enough tension created that you know that if one of your squad mates falters, it could mean that the whole plan will be shot.

 

For instance, with your silenced sniper providing surveillance, you can allow your demolitions expert to infiltrate an area, set up C4 explosive charges, and post next to the entrance to guard station. With all of your squad in place, you can control your demolitions experts and have him detonate the charges. Then you can allow your rifleman and heavy gunner to open fire on their targets causing the enemy to call up more guards. Now, with your demo expert in place to take down any enemies that emerge from the guard station, he simply neutralizes three guards that run out of the guard house to investigate the explosion. Finally, your sniper sees reinforcements coming from a different part of the complex. He quickly and efficiently dispatches his targets and keeps a close watch out for more. The beauty of a scenario such as this is that at any given moment, you the gamer can choose to be any one of these four characters. In a way, itís like action chess; the pleasure is both in the execution and the setup.

 

The game is forgiving enough in that it does allow for some bravado. If you run in with guns blazing, you will likely make it alive, but not with many medkits left. The game has an interesting yet very straightforward method of making life difficult for the run Ďní gun junkie. If one of your squad mates runs into the thick of Iraqi fire, they will likely be taken down very quickly. However, each character has a life bar with two colors. Yellow is how much life a character has before they are incapacitated. Red is how much stamina a character has once incapacitated. When the red bar runs out, the character dies and your mission will have failed. However, if one of your squad mates can get to your fallen comrade before the red bar runs out, then he will be revived and ready for action once again. So, if one of your squad mates is taken down in the middle of an Iraqi pattern of fire, then it will be very difficult to recover this squad mate to prevent your mission from failing.

 

After each mission is completed, each one of your squad mates receive a number of experience points that are based on what you he has done during the mission. Each one of your characters will gain differently from these experience points but each one develops in their own specialty. Your sniper will be able to settle their scope quicker on a target with less bob, and your rifleman will be able to have a tighter range of accuracy when running and shooting.

 

The production values are quite good but they are not without their flaws, the voice acting is fairly good, and the enemy does speak in their language. The cutscenes arenít fantastic, but are more than serviceable. Occasionally, there are cases of visual artifacting from what are likely bugs that should have been worked out. These are mostly manifested in bullets that go through walls, and distortion in the picture around the edges. However, overall, these do not get in the way of the gameplay. Although the game is not the best looking of its time, the graphics arenít so bad that they distract from the subject matter either.

 

When I first saw the title of the game, I was very skeptical and I wanted to disregard the game because I thought the gameplay would be a simplistic attempt to cash in on the patriotic side of American gamers. However, after playing the game extensively, Iíve found that Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad is enjoyable, addictive and satisfying to play. The subject matter takes a definite back seat to the actual gameplay, and this is a very good thing as the gameplay is very strong. I know that there are better games out there today, especially within the genre, but I really enjoyed playing this game.

 

- Mark Leung

(February 21, 2004)

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