"Even in the first mission, a claustrophobic set of buildings your squad finds itself in after an unfortunate enemy ambush, walls melt together. Itís easy to spend a few minutes wandering around, checking doors ten times over, pretty much moving in circles because some of the floor plans just make no sense."
Conflict: Global Terrorís first problem is that itís not the only game available within its genre. Youíll stick it in your Xbox, turn on the power, start playing and (if youíre like me) almost immediately wish you were playing something else. Maybe itís a role-playing title, or a racer, or Madden or Pong. The point is that youíll wish you were playing something else, just about anything else. Thatís the other problem, and itís related to the first.
Since itís the third or fourth in a series of squad-based shooters, Conflict: Global Terrorís developers should have easily avoided such an issue. You should often find yourself wasting five exciting hours without food or bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, that never happens. Before you ask, noÖ I donít hate this type of game. Iíve just played Battlefield 2.
In Battlefield 2, your soldier moves smoothly. You view the action from a first-person perspective, so itís easy to see all of the action. Weapon changes are simple, and you donít have to worry about squad stupidity because youíre probably playing online and theyíre all controlled by humans with brains. You swarm a building together and one of you falls back to watch your flank and rear, while others head for high ground maybe to snipe. Someone comes along with a medic kit. Maybe youíve downloaded Teamspeak for trash talk and teamwork.
Conflict: Global Terror doesnít have that. At least, it doesnít in the single-player mode. Instead, you hold the left trigger to issue a command, then press the appropriate button. For example, you might order your men to fire at will, or to move to a certain location. You can specify their target, and the approach style. You can even delay commands. Unfortunately, itís just not very satisfying. The men do what they tell you to do, but often need new orders within seconds.
Leaving your team to do whatever they wish becomes tempting, but theyíre too dense. If youíre all descending a staircase and there are enemies below, youíll probably get winged by friendly fire. Other times, theyíll get in your way when youíd otherwise have a great shot. Sure, this can happen online if youíre playing similar games with friends, but here itís just more frustrating.
Your obstructed view doesnít help. Since youíre viewing everything from behind, there are often moments where someone is hiding behind some cover in the distance, occasionally peering out to shoot at you. Maybe there are two or three enemies. You see the one, because heís off to your left. But while you deal with him, someone else is directly ahead of you, shooting casually as your life meter drops. Naturally, heís invisible to you. Either heís hiding too well, or your soldier is in the way of the camera, or things are too blurry.
Blurriness isnít the only issue. Conflict: Global Terror actually does have some pretty good textures, whether youíre looking at a wall or at the grass or whatever. Itís all about as sharp as you could hope for, but with a general feel of dinginess that means thereís not enough color variety. Fog is also common. Add these factors together and suddenly it doesnít matter that most of what youíre looking at is technically sharp; visibility is still poor.
As a result, youíll spend a lot of time just guessing at where your target is, based on the yellow bursts of gunfire. Most of the time this is sufficient, and you sluggishly advance through the stage. Then disaster strikes: everything looks the same. Even in the first mission, a claustrophobic set of buildings your squad finds itself in after an unfortunate enemy ambush, walls melt together. Itís easy to spend a few minutes wandering around, checking doors ten times over, pretty much moving in circles because some of the floor plans just make no sense. Landmarks lose their value unless youíre quick to distribute any new ammunition you acquire among your team members, since otherwise youíll be dropping as much as you pick up. So much for using ammo supplies as breadcrumbs.
Even if you want to distribute ammo, itís not always easy. Your cautious men often fall behind, even if youíve cleared an area of enemies. Even when they are nearby, you have to wait until the on-screen command appears before you can press the ĎAí button to share the wealth. Itís a context-sensitive button that sometimes allows you to climb, or to divide supplies, or to switch weapons or heal a fallen comrade. Sometimes, itís just useless.
In truth, the game as a whole sometimes shares that quality. What play it if itís not entertaining? Does it serve any real purpose? Well, yes. In Conflict: Global Terrorís favor, it does have an online mode. Clearly, itís the way the game was meant to be played. Turn on the game and your Xbox will connect to Live automatically, even if you just plan to play offline.
Online play is decent. Choose ĎQuick Matchí and within seconds any available games will be listed within seconds. These are displayed one per screen, so cycling through them is counter-intuitive, but it works. Once you get that out of the way, then itís time to select one of the four unique characters. The fastest player gets the best of the four team members. Once the round beings, youíll find that most of the flaws I mentioned above are present in full effect, but suddenly theyíre not nearly as irritating. Itís fun to work as a team with the other players, storming buildings, blasting tanks, healing each otherÖ itís not half bad!
Unfortunately, thatís hardly a glowing recommendation. Conflict: Global Terror might be $10 less than its peers, but thereís a reason. If you adore the genre and youíre tired of Battlefield 2 and its ilk, youíll probably be grateful Pivotal Games for the option. If you can only afford one or two games this year, though, donít make this one of them.
Staff review by Jason Venter (November 16, 2005)
Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.
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