With a lackluster port of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and a lack
of war games in general, the GameCube has lagged behind both the Xbox
and PS2 in good military-themed squad shooters. Gotham Games has
answered the prayers of many with its port of Conflict: Desert
Storm. Released last year for both PS2 and Xbox, the game has now
arrived on GameCube to help fill the void.
Like most games in the genre (notably Rainbow Six),
Conflict: Desert Storm allows the player to control a team of up
to four different soldiers through a variety of different missions.
Each soldier has his own specialty, including a sniper, rifleman,
heavy weapons expert, and a combat engineer. As missions are
completed, each soldier will advance in their knowledge and expertise
based on actions that took place in that mission. Soldiers can be
controlled individually or as a unit, with the one currently being
controlled by the player taking the team lead (more on that later).
If a soldier happens to get killed during combat, he’s gone forever.
A largely unskilled rookie’ll replace him during the next mission, so
obviously it’s important to keep the starting soldiers alive
throughout the campaign. Whenever a soldier goes down, the player has
a window of roughly two minutes to get another member of the unit to
heal that soldier. This is often difficult to do, as the enemy will
continue to attack the aiding soldier as well as his teammates
providing cover fire.
Controlling the team can be a bit daunting at first, but once the
controls are practiced they quickly become second nature. The A
button acts as the general action button, allowing for a variety of
individual soldier actions depending on the current situation. The
control stick is used for general movement, while the B button allows
the soldier to crouch, lay flat on the ground, or stand straight up
depending on the current positioning of that soldier. The R button
controls weapons fire, while the C stick is used to aim weapons. The
L button toggles first and third person view.
While controlling individual soldiers is fairly simple, squad control
and inventory management is where it gets tricky. The d-pad is
used for selecting which soldier to control, while Y toggles all
soldiers between firing and standing down. Z brings up the
orders menu, which while held down with various button presses allows
the player to order all soldiers at once to lay prone/stand up,
follow/hold position, order a single soldier to follow/hold, and order
a single soldier to advance to a given position. X brings up the
inventory menu, and while hold allows the player to move through an
individual soldier’s inventory, turn on/off night vision, and change
weapons fire. Some practice will definitely be required for most
players to get this down properly, and while it never really becomes
second nature it does become quite manageable.
Set in the Gulf War, missions play out in desert and city regions
throughout Iraq and other parts of the Middle East. The player is
briefed before the mission through a combination of video and speech
on that mission’s objectives, and then plunked down into the mission
without any of the Rainbow Six type planning. Mission
objectives are varied, including taking out a given target(s),
rescuing other soldiers, eliminating the enemy, laser-guiding
air-based attacks, etc. Each mission is also reasonably long, with
one in mission save allowed anywhere during the course of the
mission. Missions also allow for up to four players to play
cooperatively, which provide plenty of opportunity for cooperation
(and backstabbing) between players.
Graphically, Desert Storm isn’t anything to rave about.
Each of the desert and city locations looks good, with run-down
buildings, sand storms, and plenty of brown everywhere. The
nature of the game means that it can only do so much though, since
desert locations are typically barren and uninteresting graphically.
Soldiers also look pretty good, with realistic outfits and good
character models. Weapons-fire bounces off of the environment
realistically, including some nice dust effects whenever bullets
impact the ground. On the downside, bullet trails are very
arcade-like yellow lines, which look laughably bad. There’s also
some minor pop-up and plenty of fogging in the distance of each level.
The game also doesn’t do much more beyond the standard graphical
effects: no lighting tricks, little variety of color, average
texturing, and no progressive scan support. Overall a decent
looking game, but not one of the system’s best.
Sound fares much
better, with some excellent voice work (check out the sarge in the
training missions), nice ambient sounds, and other sound effects to
keep the desert locations from being devoid of sound. The Pro Logic
II support is nice as well, although the soundtrack is forgettable.
Tight gameplay and interesting missions.
Excellent voice acting.
Not too hardcore for
fan, but complicated enough for the hardcore fan.
doesn't want to fight Saddam's regime?
environments mixed with some ugly graphic shortcomings.
Squad control takes a lot of practice, and it’ll never seem
Gotham Games has managed to find a nice niche here, as this game isn’t
quite as complicated as the Rainbow Six series and not as
simplified as some other military-themed shooters. Thus it appeals to
both hardcore (I’m personally a big fan of Clancy’s games) and casual
fans, and manages to provide a welcome addition to the GameCube’s