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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Action / Simulation

 

Publisher

Gotham Games

 

Developer

Pivotal Games

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2003

 

 

- Fills a definite void on GameCube

- Full features

- Four-player co-op play

 

 

- But mainly too challenging thanks to vicious enemy AI

- Mastering the controls takes a long time and even then you'll screw up

 

 

Review: Rainbow Six 3: Raven Shield (PC)

Review: Splinter Cell (GC)

 

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Conflict: Desert Storm

Score: 4.8 / 10

 

Team-based tactical team games like Rainbow Six started way back with the original SWAT (from the mind of Daryl Gates and Sierra).  Even though SWAT used full-motion video and was brutally difficult, I managed to bumble my way through after many deaths (my own, mostly) and reloads but still enjoyed myself.  For one reason of another I stayed away from tactical sims – until Conflict: Desert Storm (C:DS) landed on my desk.  Would it draw me back into the genre?

 

conflict deser storm gamecube review          conflict deser storm gamecube review

 

For GameCube owners C:DS is one of the only tactical sims available.  So, right out of the gate C:DS is at the top of the heap, which certainly doesn’t mean it’s a great game.

 

C:DS puts you on the front line of Desert Storm (or Gulf War I) circa. 1991, operating alone and in small groups to accomplish a variety of objectives – sniping, sneaking and slaughtering along the way.  If you like your action more deliberate and thought out (i.e. planned), rather than “stand-up and fight” encounters, tactical sims were made with you in mind but C:DS has several shortcomings that will make playing a challenge even for die-hard gamers.

 

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What brings C:DS down the most is the control.  The technical aspects are solid – the response is swift and crisp, with the exception of crouching.  Hitting the “B” button makes your on-screen character crouch.  Hold it down and he’ll go prone.  It took me an inordinate amount of time to master this basic movement.  (Most times it looked like I was doing calisthenics instead of preparing to sneak past a patrol.)  Although the control is “swift and crisp” the learning curve required to completely master the controls is excessive.  

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This is the first game I’ve ever come across where I went through the Training mode not just once, twice or three times.  I plugged through it five times before tackling the Campaign.  Not only do you have to manage up to three squad mates, the inventory management – weapons, med kits, etc. – is cumbersome.  It’s hard enough to manage all this while just standing around but under enemy fire?  It’s nearly impossible.  You’ll have to be extremely familiar with the controls to have a hope in hell of finishing the game.

 

The environments you’ll traverse don’t vary much from desert – this is after all Iraq.  That said, levels are laid out well with obvious and not so obvious routes to success.  Of course, you can be stymied by the enemy AI, which is maddening at times.  You think you might be one with the sand as you crawl on your belly to an overlooking ledge, but most times if you can see them, they can see you – and they'll converge on your position.  Some of this super-AI is tempered by the save feature.

 

conflict deser storm gamecube review          conflict deser storm gamecube review

 

You can save anywhere in a mission – twice.  This might seem like an odd cap, but the fact you can save your progress after a complicated encounter instead of hoping you don’t die before hitting the next checkpoint, is particularly appreciated.

 

Squad AI is also lacking but at least they don’t go running off to get killed and will do what you want them to do a good 80% of the time.  If you don’t trust the squad AI, good news.  In C:DS's best feature, you and three other buddies can tackle the game together.  This doesn’t completely erase the inventory management problem, but at least your squad is as smart as the guys holding the controllers.  (You can also play two-player, with each player controlling two squad members.)

 

Conflict: Desert Storm comes with mixed feelings.  I like tactical sims and it fills the void of tact-sims on GameCube; however, it’s by no means an easy game with a nearly deadly mix of cumbersome inventory management and vicious enemy AI.  Definitely not for newbies.  Hardcore gamers will only get something out of C:DS if they’re willing to put in a lot of time mastering the controls.

 

- Omni

(June 22, 2003)

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