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Conflict: Desert Storm (Xbox) artwork

Conflict: Desert Storm (Xbox) review

"Conflict Desert Storm has plenty of those exciting moments that you just can't find in other genres. You're low on ammo, separated from your squad, relatively hidden in a small group of boulders. There's a tank rolling towards you on the left, enemy infantry overrunning your position. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO??? I live for these moments - CDS delivers them in bunches."

Most people agree that war is a bad thing, but it's an undeniable fact that when war meets videogames good things almost always happen. Conflict Desert Storm is a prime example of this fact.

Here's how the story goes: this big jerk named Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. The US got angry and decided to push Mr. Hussein back into his own crummy country of Iraq. Not the most creative plot ever in a videogame, but it works as the backdrop of this squad based tactical shooter.

Before the main group of coalition forces hit the sands of the Kuwaiti/Iraqi desert, Special Forces groups were down there clearing the way. That's you. You have a choice of controlling either the British SAS or the US Marines. For some reason the US troops are more prone to friendly fire incidents, so be careful out there, soldier.

Your team is made up of four soldiers - a rifleman, a heavy weapons specialist, a sniper, and a medic/demolitions specialist. You only control one guy at a time - cycle through them quickly by pressing up and down on the d-pad. The three members you aren't in direct control of are manipulated using simple button commands. You can tell them to follow you, move to a certain area, open fire, stop, face a certain direction, etc. It's a functional system, but it doesn't work quite as precisely as it should. Most of the time I either move each soldier individually or just tell them to follow my lead.

You'll be taking your team through levels that fall into one of two basic types - desert/canyons and towns. There's little variation in your missions. Typically you blow something up (usually surface to air missile sites, enemy armor, or SCUD missile emplacements) and then retreat back to the area where a helicopter will be waiting to take you to safety. At the beginning you can mostly just run and gun your way through the levels, but the difficulty quickly slopes up to the point where tactics come into play and effectively utilizing the strengths of each of your guys becomes necessary.

The layout of the missions is simple, getting through them usually isn't. There'll be loads of Iraqi armor and soldiers in between you and your objectives. Speaking of the soldiers, they have inhuman perception. They can see/hear/smell you from 30 yards away, always. You never have the element of surprise. While they're quite adept at sensing your presence, they don't react to it very well. All they ever do is start shooting and charge your position. Are you entrenched in a fortified position? Doesn't matter, they'll run at you like sheep to the slaughter. Is there usable cover right next to them? Doesn't matter, they're not going to use it - and that's not the only issue I have with the combat. When the going gets tough and there are bullets flying everywhere, switching through your extensive inventory one item at a time can get you killed. It would've been nice if you could just set hotkeys to a couple of vital items. Also, aiming can be bothersome due to the haphazard auto-aim feature which often locks onto the wrong target. Most of the time it's not a problem, but when it gets chaotic on-screen you don't want to be locking onto a far away tank when there's enemy infantry swarming you up close. The only real way to get an accurate aim 100% of the time is to zoom into the first person aiming view, which is useless in close combat.

They even decided to throw in a couple of vehicles for the later levels (A stupid looking jeep thing and a Bradley armored fighting vehicle) but they're hardly worth mentioning. It seems like they were put into the game as an afterthought - I can honestly tell you that they handle worse than any vehicles I've ever seen in a game.

The graphical presentation is pretty boring. Outside of the occasional glitch you won't see anything really ugly, but you won't see anything truly nice either. Watching CDS is about as exciting as looking at a barren expanse of Iraqi desert - which is as it should be, I suppose.

Even with all of it's flaws Conflict Desert Storm is still a very fun game. Why? The multiplayer. Two to four players can take part in the action. Severe framerate issues plague the four player, and the screens are just too damn small, but the two player experience shines. Each player takes control of two soldiers. Planning and coordinating attacks with the guy sitting next to you is about as good as it gets as far as I'm concerned. You can even punch him if he doesn't give you proper covering fire.

Being a wargame Conflict Desert Storm has plenty of those exciting moments that you just can't find in other genres. You're low on ammo, separated from your squad, relatively hidden in a small group of boulders. There's a tank rolling towards you on the left, enemy infantry overrunning your position. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO??? I live for these moments - CDS delivers them in bunches.

Though it's rather rough in many areas CDS is an enjoyable experience, an entertaining blend of tactics and shooting that is especially fun when played with a friend. Maybe they'll make a sequel with the new material Bush #2 has so graciously provided. I can see it now...Conflict Desert Storm: Gave Diplomacy A Chance. This game is a choice rental not only for fans of the genre but just about anybody looking for a solid co-op game.

goatx3's avatar
Staff review by (April 28, 2003)

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