Once again, I find myself strapping on my army boots and a fresh pair of fatigues as I prepare for battle once more. This time, I am fighting Iraqi forces in the sequel to SCI Games’ Conflict: Desert Storm, with Conflict: Desert Storm II – Return to Baghdad.
The audio of the game is superb. With whispers from teammates, followed by gunfire in the immediate area, with room shaking explosions in the back, I found myself right in the middle of some random street in Baghdad. The voices were very clear and precise, and even when whispering was found; you could still understand your squad mates. With, random comments from your squad, whether about your mission or about the enemy they just took down, it all added up for a better gaming experience. The low rumble of heavy artillery, along with the roar of jet engines overhead, all of which seem to be captured perfectly, make the audio in this game one of its best features.
Awesome. That one word describes the amazing visuals that SCI provided for the game. The graphics in the game are very crisp and clear, and definitely credible. The soldiers have amazing detail, with backpacks jostling as you run from building to building. Animation while reloading or throwing a grenade is flawless, and you can almost see fear in the enemies’ eyes as you throw a grenade.
Dust is kicked up by enemy tanks barreling through the city streets, and small trails of dust can be seen behind enemy guards’ feet. Every breath taken by one of the squad members can be seen as small puffs of air, and when “shot down” your teammates squirm on the ground calling for help. All of this is done in incredible detail, and so precisely animated, I almost felt bad for one of my troops.
Overall the visuals were great, and only minor flaws could be found, mostly involving the amount of blood on your units as they lose health, but nothing major.
The game promised 14 “grueling missions”, and they definitely are just that. Every mission is huge, and takes place over massive great expanses of city or desert terrain. Enemies, even on easy mode, are everywhere and constantly trying to stop you from reaching you mission goal. Now the enemies aren’t so abundant that you can’t beat the mission, they are simply there so you can’t just go through each mission without using teamwork, the key feature of this title.
Going back to teamwork, early in the game you decide between four guys from the SAS or Delta Force. These four soldiers create the team that you will eventually beat the game with, and thwart the actions of Saddam Hussein with. Controlling each man one at a time you create perimeters and scout out the areas ahead. Enemies come from all angles so, forgetting to guard your flank can create instant problems for your crew, which adds to the strategy needed to get through the game.
The controls are rather easy and similar to almost every shooter/strategy game so getting used to them is a snap, and makes learning the game very easy. Of course, if you still can’t get a hang of the game, the four tutorial missions are helpful, and show off all the features of the game.
Other problems encountered in the game, are some cases of idiotic AI. Normally found when involving grenades, enemy troops would throw a grenade and then run towards the grenade they just threw, normally resulting in them blowing themselves away. Other than that the AI is nearly flawless: whether constantly hurling some form of artillery your way or bombarding you with tank shells, it does a great job trying to flush you out and wiping your squad off the map.
The only disappointment is the lack of online play in the computer version. I assumed, since the first installment of Conflict: Desert Storm had it, that the second would easily carry that over, but was incredibly dismayed when that option wasn’t present. This limits game play so much, and after beating the game on all four modes, (easy, medium, hard, and the unlockable extreme), the game will easily collect dust on the bookshelf.
Conflict: Desert Storm II – Return to Baghdad is a game worth buying in my opinion. The gameplay, audio, and visuals provide for a great gaming experience, but without a multiplayer mode, the game lacks major replay-ability. Other then the lack of online play, the game is amazing and gets the job done by providing a tactical shooter game that doesn’t require intricate planning before being thrown in the battlefield, like some games of the same genre. So if fun, single player tactical action games are your thing, this game is a definitely a must have for you.