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Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad Package Art
†GENRE
††Action
†DEVELOPER
††SCi Games
†PUBLISHER
††Gathering of Developers
†NUMBER OF PLAYERS
††1-4
†CONNECTIVITY
††no
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Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad

When the late Gotham Games announced that they would be releasing a sequel to the critically badgered Conflict Desert Storm, there were a couple reactions from within the gaming community. Some people thought it was a bad idea, where others simply just didnít care. It was nice to see that their hard work paid off and a new franchise had been born, but would they really learn from their mistakes with Back to Baghdad? Whatís great about smaller, lesser known developers is that they take the time to take a step back, check out what went wrong, and fix it as much as they can as quickly as they can. Theyíve done a great job with this sequel, but it still lacks what hardcore gamers want. The casual gamer may find this title enjoyable, especially war game enthusiasts. However, even after so many changes, the CDS series desperately needs serious tweaking if theyíre going to make it into the mainstream. The effort is worthy, but only by Blockbuster standards. The rental chain, that is.

visuals

This is easily one of the least impressive titles, graphically speaking, in the war game genre. The textures are bland and the character models are almost identical. Itís hard to differentiate between ally and enemy sometimes. The only way you can tell is if your target starts bleeding. The explosions look great, however, with dust and debris blowing across the field as a tank shell or grenade hits the ground. The level design is nicely detailed with several emplacements that allow the player to use the teamís skills to their advantage. The most appalling detail about the visuals has to be the character animations. Theyíre probably the worst since Enter the Matrixís goofy running characters. If youíre driving a tank, the tracks will turn completely horizontal when moving left or right. Just like in real life! To put it simply, Army Men: Sargeís Heroes was a better looking game than Conflict Desert Storm II. At least theyíve learned from the mistakes of the abysmal precursor.

audio

Thereís not a whole lot to discuss here. The sound effects are average at best and donít offer a whole lot of depth to the action. The explosions are slightly compressed and the gunfire doesnít make the weapons sound as deadly or accurate as theyíre supposed to be. Once you start firing your M4, youíll wonder if youíre running around with a cap gun rather than a high-powered rifle. The music is just plain forgettable. Itís a chore to listen to this kind of a score after hearing the soundtrack from the Medal of Honor series. They do a good job at capturing the mystery and havoc of war, but there just isnít anything here to rejoice about. Voice acting is tolerable, but there could have been much more in quality and quantity. Overall, there really isnít anything here.

gameplay

There are two types of war games. One uses fast paced action in order to create a more arcade-like feel while still using strict realism within the field of battle. The other uses tight, maneuverable strategic play mechanics that allows the player to think before they act. Conflict Desert Storm II fits somewhere in between the two. As your team of four soldiers touches down into the battlefield, youíll have to make your way through several levels using your brains while still evading enemy emplacements and patrols. Youíll still get some arcade action while using the skills of each soldier to your advantage. Each soldier is more skilled at a certain weapon or feat than another and each progresses up the skill ladder as the player progresses through the game. If the sniper performs well, heís awarded with tighter accuracy in his sniper rifle, and so on. The controls are a little bit too loose and it may take a while to adjust to the scheme, but once you do, youíll be fine. The optional auto-aim feature allows the player to pick off enemy soldiers easier than manually aiming, which can be a pain if you havenít adjusted to the pitch. The formula found in Back to Baghdad is simple enough, but it works better on paper than in practice. Basically, the series still hasnít achieved what itís been meaning to achieve. Hopefully as the development team grows, so will this promising series of intelligent war games.

multiplayer

Nothing makes a game more fun than a four player cooperative mode. It worked for Hunter: The Reckoning, most any sports title, and any TMNT title since Turtles in Time. Thankfully, it helps Conflict Desert Storm II become a much more enjoyable title. This game is all about teamwork and what better way to do it than with a group of friends and a couple of Chicken and Garlic Gourmet pizzas from Round Table. If it werenít for the multiplayer mode, this would certainly be just the normal action/war title. Itís fun, itís great, and itís split-screen.

overall

Conflict Desert Storm II is obviously not the best war game brought to the latest round of consoles, but it certainly isnít the worst. After games like last yearís Freedom Fighters, weíve been spoiled with great production values and better control schemes. However, Gathering has certainly made a great follow-up to a sub par title. With a small budget and a talented team of developers, theyíve managed to make improvements upon the last title and bring us an enjoyable title rather than a rehash of an already average game. For that, they should be commended. Anyone whoís looking for a game where you can run around shooting everything in sight, look somewhere else. But if you enjoy war games, you should definitely check this game out.

final score 7.5/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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