Set against the background of the Gulf War Conflict: Desert Storm is a fast-paced 3D action stealth game. Utilizing a next generation 3D engine, Conflict: Desert Storm places you in control of a team of 4 special forces soldiers each with their own skills and abilities. Switch quickly between each soldier or move them as a group as you engage in fast and deadly combat during the Gulf War. Each of the soldiers excels in one area: rifleman and infiltrator, heavy weapons, sniper, demolitions. All soldiers can perform all tasks, but the specialists are superior in their respective areas. As the missions progress the soldiers become more experienced and improve their skills which improves their chances of survival. At first sight Conflict: Desert Storm might remind you of Hidden & Dangerous, its third person view throughout the whole game (unless you count the fact you can zoom in with various guns as a semi first person view) and you shoot people. But thats also where it ends. Conflict: Desert Storm is a pure war-shoot-em-up in a war-like environment which is very easy to learn, smooth and easy to play and apparently for many of my friends, very hard to put down and stop playing.
I base that on the fact that 2 of my buds stayed in my apartment playing it over the night, still playing when I got up and when to work and still there when I got back home from work. Oh, a second thing that apparently was hard to ignore was my THEN filled fridge, however that is another story.
The game starts with the invasion of Kuwait (of course before the Gulf war..)on August 2nd 1990, the Irazi tanks cross the border, the special forces move into action. You can choose to play either as SAS (Special Air Service) or as Delta Forces. For the people completely new to these kind of games or do not have the Discovery Channel, the SAS are the limeys and Delta Forces are their American colleague's. There is no real difference in game play which side you choose other than that the SAS people have a UK accent and the Delta's have well, an American accent. Uniform & character wise everything also looks pretty much the same.
You begin your future killing career with the practice field, where a drill instructor will yell at you in true Full Metal Jacket style. After an intense basic training you learn how to shoot, guide your team & drive. And dont worry, you will get a green light on your practise because either the instructor is not watching you or maybe he is bored with his work because either how bad you are, you will pass. (Guess all those smart bombs & AI stuff wont require soldiers that can aim correct, hopefully they will hit something.)
From there its out to the battlefield and here does the major positive effects of the game kick in. The graphic effects are very good indeed, you have sandstorms that remind you of the real deal (well I spend 3 days this summer in the Sahara Desert so I know what I am talking about ;P) and when everything clears up you might just realize you are right in the middle of an VERY active battle. Of course you will also see the usual bullet holes & lights from fire but that feels less realistic. And no, I didn't spend the rest of my vacation in a battle (except one when my VISA didn't work hmm) but dammit, I've done my military service ;)
One of the pro's of this game is the fact that it is very easy to get started, as good as no learning curve at all. Because of this rather simple control system the gameplay remains very smooth even when you are in the middle of a battle. Another thing is that you dont really buy guns, each soldier is specialized in one type of weapon or another and has his favorite toy with him. One big let down however is the fact that you can't pick up weapons from your enemies once you have eliminated them.. Especially considering most real armies nowadays get the chance to both test and use the equipement from opposing armies or forces, or at least my platoon was. Nevertheless during certain missions you sometimes stumble upon equipment, weapons or ammo that the Iraqis have somehow dropped or left behind in a tent etc, but using them will result in a loss of accuracy. The game is mostly played from a 3rd person perspective, except when you have a weapon with zoom capabilities, then it becomes a 1st person view.
Most missions will require you to penetrate enemy territory, destroy communications systems, rescue civilians and prisoners or simple blow up a pre-set amount of trucks and tanks. You have the standard variety of weapons ranging from the usual M-16, AK-47, heavy machine guns (M60), grenades, bazooka's, sniper rifle and more goodies. Initially you start out on your own but as you progress through the game you get extra squad members (or sometimes rescue prisoners who then team up with you), each time you complete an assignment your squad member can upgrade according to how well they performed during the mission and get skill increase, promotion in rank (corporal, staff sergeant, sergeant major etc.) as well as medals, experience level and more. With only 2 save games per level you might think the game is relatively hard to complete, however there is an abundance of medi-kits that each squad member can use on himself to restore his health or even resuscitate a shot down squad members with no health left, granted you get to your fallen comerade within a time limit, or he WILL die. Each mission of course has extra objectives that you can complete along your way, such as stealing c-4, using that c-4 to blow up a bridge, destroy all armored vehicles in a village and so on...
Compared to the simulationusly developed console versions, the PC graphics looks a lot better in every way you can think off, not by much, but it is noticeable. Of course there is the higher resolution but also textures look better and are generally more detailed. The eye candy is not eye popping but is above average and fits perfectly into the game. Explosions and fire look good, smoke grenades are accurate, weapons are properly detailed, there is even a minor Max Payne type effect when you get shot, your body falls back on impact and falls down in slow motion, a small addition that only adds to the overal feel of the game. There are a few little graphical bugs and hiccups here and there, but you don't get much time to ponder over them because Iraqi soldiers are storming your way and bullits are zipping by. If you are looking for a bloody or messy battlefield with limbs flying, you will be rather disappointed, apart from some red trousers and blood splatshes, there is not much else to be found in terms of blood and gore.
AI is where a lot of the other tactical squad based games fall short and often makes or brakes agame, with the scale being tipped towards the braking part. Not so the case with Conflict : Desert Storm. It is quite obvious that a lot of the development time must have been aimed at making sure that the AI is as good as it gets, and it surely shows in the final result. Commanding your team is quite easy, you control one member of your squad and at any time switch can you switch from person to person, sniper to gunner etc. and continue in the action. You can either choose to give them specific orders, such as perform overwatchm stay behind or follow you or let the AI kick in. Either way, i found the AI to be extremely useful and well balanced.In once instance i told my sniper to go for high ground and "perform overwatch" to give me additional cover while i was sneaking up to a control post. When the action started he was amazingly helpful and accurate, sniping off enemies from a far without me having to worry about anything. You can even tell your squad members to cover a certain angle so they know where to lay down cover or cross fire in case it is neccesary. Hats off to the AI!
To add extra game value a good multiplayer portion is always a safe bet to prolongue the game time. Conflict : Desert Storm has such but there is not really much action going on there to really be able to get into the online aspect and get a good feel for it. It does however have some potention with quite a few modes ushc as Recovery, Team DeathMatch ,DeathMatch, Assault/Defend and VIP Assasination. There are also different "type" of maps which require a different tactical approach such as Scud Hunter, Bunker Buster, Crossfire and a few others. On top of all that you can specify a time limit for each map, define wether you want certain weapon cach's to be available not, friendly fire on/off or even the possibility to call in air support.
Conflict: Desert Storm is nothing for you if you want a game with a high realism degree (titles such as Ghost Recon) and unexpected events . Conflict : Desert Storm mostly has its missions outdoors, so it maybe lack a bit in variety, but after all it is based on Operation Desert Storm. However, if you are more the arcade type of guy, like games that are easy to start with, want a lot of action but dont want a game that will require you to look in the manual and perhaps enjoy playing console games, GO GO GO for it, this game has your name all over it! In general the game is just above average but the excellent AI gives it a big push in the back and adds to the score.
Score : 7.9/10