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Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad

by Chris Martino - February 26, 2004, 9:15 am EST


Conflict: Desert Storm 1.5 is an improvement over the original, but just barely.

Conflict: Desert Storm 2, like its predecessor, is a squad-based tactical action game set during the Gulf War in the early 90’s. In fact, it’s really more like an expansion pack than a true sequel. While the developers at Pivotal have polished some of the gameplay and bolted on a few interesting additions, CDS2 still suffers from the core problems that plagued the first game.

At the outset, you’ll be given a choice between commanding either the US Delta Force or the British SAS through the game’s ten missions. Your team consists of a rifleman, a sniper, a heavy gunner, and a demolitions expert. The differences between the Brits and the Yankees are purely cosmetic. You can easily switch between members of your team using the D-pad, and you’ll be doing this a lot to keep the mediocre AI from getting killed. Issuing commands is also a fairly simple process as you order your teammates to follow your lead, hold position, open or hold fire, or move to a player-specified position, though this last feature is very awkward. The missions become quite intricate and will require you to use all the skills of your members as well as some vehicles and mounted weaponry.

The control is still a major issue that has been tweaked but not fixed from the first game. The animations of your team members are still largely wooden, but strafing and crawling are thankfully no longer reminiscent of one of those nightmares where you can’t move your legs. You’ll still be spending a lot of time on your belly, only this time around you can roll to either direction so as to actually avoid enemy fire. You can switch into a first-person perspective at any time for manual aiming, but your turning radius is worse than a Mack truck. It’s noticeably more efficient to switch back to third-person if you want to turn around. The auto-aim is hyper-active, often targeting enemies before you’ve made visual contact, and yet it still manages to miss the guy two feet away. A major pet-peeve of mine has returned for round two, making it impossible to switch weapons or issue commands without coming to a full stop. I thought this was supposed to be a war, not a tea party. While some may commend Pivotal for mapping such a large number of functions to the GameCube controller, I say just getting them on there isn’t enough. To be fair, you won’t be throwing your controller in frustration, but you’ll never be satisfied either.

Overall, the gameplay is lacking. The mission structure is linear to an extreme. Most of the time there’s not even the illusion of an open path, as you’re traveling down one narrow ravine to another or desperately searching a war-torn city for the single exit. Your teammates’ AI succeeds only because it is so limited that they can’t make too many mistakes. They will absolutely cap the bad guys on their own, but they haven’t enough sense to take cover unless you hold their hand. If it weren’t for the fact that each member holds certain skill-specific items, or for their propensity for getting shot, you could probably go through the entire game without switching characters.

The game does offer the option for co-op multiplayer, and if you’ve got a friend, or better yet, three, it can be a satisfying experience. This is especially true in vehicles as one player drives, one shoots and one blows stuff up. Still, once you no longer have to wrangle your crew the game shies even farther away from true tactical play and becomes at best a restricted action game. Furthermore, with only ten missions and no versus mode, you can cruise through the multiplayer fairly quickly, limiting the replay value.

Truthfully, unless you’re starved for “tactical” action, there is little reason to buy Conflict: Desert Storm 2. While it is an improvement over the first one, the two games are largely identical and suffer from the same identity problem. The formula offers gamers a taste of both action and tactics, but neither tastes good enough for a second helping.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
7 7 6 6.5 6.5 6.5

A marked improvement from the first installment. The character models certainly look better, but they still move awkwardly. The framerate is healthy with little noticeable slowdown. The textures are poor, and there are some minor clipping issues.


Your commands are simple, so the voice acting is sufficient. Additionally, your team members will often shout to you when they’re taking or giving fire. The SAS come with British accents included, but their lines are all the same. The music is totally forgettable but not bad by any means. Unfortunately, the Drill Sergeant returns in the training area and is totally clichéd and awful.


The mapping is essentially the same as the last time around, but the characters response is a little better. Strafing and crawling are quicker and the option to roll while on your belly is nice. Most of the commands are still easy to issue, but trying to move a member of your team and altering the way they face is often frustrating. In the future, I’d like to be able to switch weapons and issue orders while in motion.


There is actually some interesting stuff to do in this game, from controlling the vehicles to throwing down a smoke bomb to obscure your enemy’s vision. Placing your teammates in key positions to provide cover fire is always fun. However, like the first game, CDS2 tries to be both tactical and action oriented at the same time and fails to do either one well.


You probably won’t have much desire to go through the paltry ten levels more than once, and the game doesn’t give you any incentive to do so. The multiplayer adds depth to the game and is a lot of fun, but it doesn’t distinguish itself from the single player mode.


This is certainly an improvement over the original, but at this rate it’ll be Conflict: Desert Storm 4 before the series is worthwhile. Of course, that’s probably only two years away. It’s a decent rental for the multiplayer, but the single player campaign is just not good enough to buy this game.


  • Character movement, while not exactly fluid, is faster than it was
  • Co-op multiplayer can be a lot of fun
  • It’s squad-based and on the GameCube
  • Controls are still awkward
  • Only ten missions (although I suppose this could be a pro)
  • The tactics restrict the action and the action supercedes the tactics
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Genre Action
Developer Gotham Games
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Conflict: Desert Storm II - Back to Baghdad
Release Jan 07, 2004
PublisherGotham Games
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