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Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad (Xbox) artwork

Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad (Xbox) review

"In Conflict: Desert Storm II, you manipulate your four-strong team of US Delta Force marines or UK SAS operatives - each with their own well-acted, regionally-accurate voice - in such a way as to complete various mission-driven stages. The only thing in your way is half the Iraqi army armed with a respectable smattering of tanks, helicopters and heavy artillery. "

In Conflict: Desert Storm II, you manipulate your four-strong team of US Delta Force marines or UK SAS operatives - each with their own well-acted, regionally-accurate voice - in such a way as to complete various mission-driven stages. The only thing in your way is half the Iraqi army armed with a respectable smattering of tanks, helicopters and heavy artillery.

I want to hijack your imagination for a second.

Image that you and a team of three others have been dropped just outside a military encampment, filled to the brim with the enemies of democracy who dare to take hostage your precious oil. Your mission is to covertly make your way through this, and a series of other enemy outposts, attracting as little attention to yourselves as possible. You pile into your jeep, position yourself behind the wheel and designate the respective mounted heavy machineguns to the correct soldiers. You sneak ‘round the winding, cliff-bordered road, draping yourselves in the shadows. You allow yourself a slight smirk; the poor Iraqis won’t know what hit them.

Your jeep is rocked by a sudden, unexplained explosion. What was once a vehicle of your foes’ demise quickly reverses roles as it explodes, flinging you and your group from its burning shell. Perhaps you barely survive this and drag yourself painfully to your feet, but your comrades did not fare so well, and their singed bodies litter the road around you. You stumble, disorientated, as your failing eyesight registers a sudden influx of light illuminating your position, your shadowy protection banished by enemy flares launched into the air. You are spotted; alarms assault your already ringing ears, and spotlights search you out in the fading light. Heavy machinegun emplacements mow you down where you stand, still dazed and bewildered. As the world drops away, fading ultimately from your eyes, just above the foreign babble of your victorious foes, your radio makes one last transmission.

"Danger: minefield ahead!"

Yeah, thanks. Found it.

The above will probably describe the first couple of minutes of Conflict: Desert Storm II if you’ve not played the original, as this game heavily works off the assumption that you've had experience with the prequel and takes no time to ease you in.

Thrown in at the deep end, newcomers will likely encounter such situations like the one described above, particularly near the beginning, whereas experienced players will be able to dodge them. For returning Conflict: Desert Storm vets, it's great to forego the feeler missions and jump right in where you left off, with the first mission alone featuring armour divisions, pillbox machine gun emplacements, and more Iraqi cannon-fodder than you could shake your hypothetical stick at.

Straight from the hellish get-go, you have a fully complimented squad of four, each with his own specialty that you can utilize to your advantage. For example, stop the jeep in front of the cunningly laid minefield, safely bypass it on foot, and your sniper can be sent up a handily accessible mountain trail that overlooks the encampment. Now with hostile targets being sniped away at, the rest of your team can move in, the heavy machinegunner providing covering fire from the relative safety of a convenient rock formation and your combat engineer placing C4 charges on obstructing barricades that attempt to impede your jeep’s progress. Your assault rifle-wielding leader is left free to seek out the few troops that choose to hide.

Shortly it will become evident that the fiends are no match for the conniving crossfire you and your troops have established, and the encampment is yours. You blow up the barricade, throw a grenade into the dastardly minefield to safely detonate them from a distance, and drive your jeep through the now gutted base, this time with your victorious smirk deserved.

“Shoot him! He has a moustache!”

In addition to the ease of picking up old skills again, the returning player will find what is basically an updated version of Conflict: Desert Storm boasting the same cast, same controls, and even the same standard military fare background music, with the XBox exclusive custom soundtrack option available. It's nice to note that those new to the series still have a training mode, which again takes place in a military assault course, seeing as they have so obviously not been catered to in the meat of this game. Thankfully, it isn't all same old.

Our hapless chums and bullet magnets, the Iraqis have undergone quite a transformation since the original game. They will no longer wander aimlessly about attracting bullets much as an N*Sync concert does to schoolgirls; rather, they will actively seek cover and run in zigzag patterns to lessen the chance of a lead-filled demise. They will scream in agonised defeat when dispatched, yell heathen threats at you while trying to mow you down with hails of bullets, and manage to hum innocently when unaware of your presence. They look as sharply presented as your heroic team, right down to each of their individual moustaches and tracer-effect bullets [but you'll need to ignore the fact that it's basically the same character model reused wearing a variety of headgear - cursedly lazy programmers!]. Shoot them in the leg and watch the blood well up in the affected joint and then a supporting hand cover the wound; chuck a grenade at them and watch them panic and flee; waste a flare gun round on one, and watch him flail about on fire before smouldering into an ashen heap at your feet. You could almost feel sorry for them.

Conflict: Desert Storm II keeps many of the elements of its predecessor, furthering returning players’ sense of familiarity. You still receive only two saves per mission, ensuring that your save slots must be planned strategically; you are still given a reprieve when a trooper is gunned down in the ability to patch him back up with a medi-kit, an option your foes lack; still you'll find tanks strong against frontal attacks but easy kills once flanked; still available is the multiplayer version in which up to four of you can wage war, a feature that improves the game so damn much it's not even funny; and once again mission debriefings are made all the more enjoyable with the inclusion of a RPG-esque level up system and the inclusion of stat-boosting medals awarded to those who go beyond the call of duty. Again, it all mounts up to bombarding the player with more of the same. Sure, the graphics have been turned up a notch, and the laying down of bullet-themed doom is a smoother process (as you'd expect from a sequel), but it feels more of an add-on to the original than a new game.

Just ask the charred bodies of those who decided to play outside of the chronological order. They'd agree, but…


EmP's avatar
Community review by EmP (December 18, 2004)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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