Conflict Desert Strom 2: Back to BaghdadConflict Desert Strom 2: Back to Baghdad Fernando Bueno Get ready to lead a team of four Delta operatives back in to Baghdad in a 1991 tour of duty where you will save often, curse plenty and wish you could do it all alone. While on duty you will face the Suadi Arabian threat in the town of Al-Khafji and blah blah blahâ€¦ To be honest, I canâ€™t help but question the timeliness of this game. With that said, I think its important to start off by saying that recent events will in no way color my judgment of this game and that I will not let any political sentiment bleed into this review. I will treat this just like any other game I review; just like any other mediocre game fraught with bugs and so-so gameplay. As many of you know (or if you canâ€™t deduce it from the title), this is a sequel. If this is news to you, then Iâ€™m not surprised; the first Conflict Desert Storm title came with little bang and left with a whimper. So itâ€™s not unlikely that many of you may not have heard of it. This time around, CDS2:BtB does very little to buck the trend. Features â€¢ 4 player co-operative play â€¢ Custom Soundtrack â€¢ Downloadable Content â€¢ A team of â€œfreakinâ€™ idiotsâ€ Gameplay I get the point! War is NOT fun! Seriously, if this is a war simulator, then it succeeds at delivering the message â€œwar is NOT funâ€. I know, I know, no body ever said it was, but with recent gems like Tom Clancyâ€™s Ghost Recon series, one just comes to expect that these tactical shooter games deliver on some level of entertainment. CDS2: BtB doesnâ€™t. Unfortunately CDS2: BtBâ€™s gameplay is lacking on quite a few levels. While the Ghost Recon series allows for the completion of multiple objectives with two teams of three covert operatives, CDS2: BtB allows for struggling through waves of crack shot Iraqi clones in attempts to complete objectives with a single team of bullet sponge idiots. You will find that in order to complete your objectives you will need to save often and load even more often. Rote memorization of each level will be handier than any tactical planning you might come up with. Saving is your friend. Saving private Foleyâ€¦ Connors, Bradley and Jones. Though the game is supposed to be a tactical team based shooter, the weak A.I. doesnâ€™t allow for much planning. Well, actually, you could plan all you want, but that doesnâ€™t mean that anything will come of it. There were several instances where I would call for my squad to join me, but they would either get in my line of fire or take shots from the opposition and not so much as flinch. Missions then boil down to you running back and forth healing your downed team mates and letting your plan go down the latrine. In some sick ironic twist of fate, the enemy A.I. is also M.I.A. I imagine that at some point in war, the enemy army will either surrender or try to run away, but in CDS2: BtB turning your back on a squad of four men firing at you seems to be special evasive Saudi army maneuver. While other games like Ghost Recon required high levels of planning, it was mostly due in part to its intricate and open level designs. CDS2: BtBâ€™s levels are much more straight forward than those found in GR. Many of the gameâ€™s levels, which are very reminiscent of Black Hawk Downâ€™s war torn city streets, are extremely linear in design. Objectives will be laid out in order to be accomplished and the overhead maps can often read point â€œAâ€ to point â€œBâ€ to point â€œCâ€. Obviously this leads to very simple run and gun game play with heavier emphasis on shooting than on planning. Admittedly, thatâ€™s not a bad thing for some players. However, when you have to switch on the fly to your next team mate, press three buttons to use a med-kit and then press another four to switch back to your weapon, the â€œrun and gunâ€ turns into run-switch-med-switch-n-gun. What are friendâ€™s for? Dealing with the less than lack luster A.I. is a cinch if you have 3 friends, though. Get them to come over, order a pizza and you have yourself interesting night of team based combat. With a friend on each controller you can designate one man per specialist and not worry about who is going down, who is standing in the line of fire or who is soaking up bullets while standing in a doorway admiring the carpentry and quality craftsmanship in the door frame. Get your friends to cover your six while you sneak up on a tank, lay C4 and cover your escape. Better yet, have your sniper friend scope out enemy positions while you flank around the side and lay down some mines. If youâ€™re real creative you can try and have your friend draw enemy fire while you sneak up on the enemy with your knife. Granted, you will need plenty of med-kits on hand, but when you succeed, you are guaranteed a round of high fives. Things like this are only possible with real minds at work. The three computer controlled dimwits will rarely offer you the opportunity to pull off such feats.
Graphics War isnâ€™t pretty. Conflict Desert Storm 2: Back to Baghdad isnâ€™t the prettiest game on the market and it sure isnâ€™t the ugliest either. Fortunately the team at Gotham Games was making a war game. They didnâ€™t have to design celestial fairies, create a colorful alternate universe or invent new space age weaponry. Their task was to create the war-torn city of Al-Khaji and in doing that, they succeeded rather nicely with some graphical touches to be envied. The environments were not detailed to an amazing degree and the character models were blocky at best. Animation was choppy and sometimes awkward. Similar to Soldier of Fortune 2â€™s rag doll physics (though I doubt CDS2: BtB employed the same physics engine) enemies would fall in laughable positions after being shot. One enemy landed sitting up while doing the splits, left arm bent over his head in an â€œLâ€ shape while the other bent backwards (double jointed?) behind his backâ€¦ after I shot him in the head with a sniper. Now THAT is comedy. But rainbows areâ€¦ Interestingly enough, the Gotham team took plenty of creative license with the use of color. Skies glimmered in beautiful hues in the distance creating an almost palpable atmosphere. The muted city would at times come to life with explosions of red, yellow, black and orange against a nighttime blue. At some points I almost didnâ€™t mind my soldiers standing still taking shots from every direction, Iâ€™d stop to admire the landscape also if I could. Sound WAR! Ungh! Good God! What is it good for?! I must admit, I have been complaining and complaining that that not enough games make use of the custom soundtrack option. Some sports games do. Nearly all racers do, but a WAR game? I was a little shocked to find that I could listen to John Teshâ€™s Live at the Red Rocks (looks around nervously) while blowing up tanks in Baghdad. Well, you could. After a few unsuccessful shots at completing the first level, it hit me. I had the wrong music for the game. I quickly came up with a list of suitable tunes for the game which, to be completely honest, helped my performance. Outkastsâ€™ â€œBombs over Baghdadâ€ quickly became my song of choice. Once I had tired of Outkast, I ripped my Black Hawk Down soundtrack to my Xbox Hard drive. It was the perfect choice and definitely a strong suggestion to those of you who would consider it. Be creative and Iâ€™m sure you will find that there are at least eleventy billion songs that would fit nicely in the background of a war game. It is definitely a good use of the custom soundtrack option. Now would be a good time for surround sound. Other nice touches include in-game Dolby Digital surround sound. While taking enemy fire shots will ring behind you, next to you, in front of you, etc. Shots will ricochet off of walls (and sometimes go through them) with complete clarity and each weapon has its own distinguishable gun blast. Best of all, while rounding a corner laden with hostiles, you will here them slightly beyond the wall chattering about who knows what. The sound creates on hell of an interactive and immersive environment. Make sure to pay attention. Replay But it says â€œonline enabledâ€ on the box! Iâ€™m of the opinion that Microsoft needs to be more specific about how they advertise. I see a game that says â€œonline enabledâ€ and I think I can play multiplayer online. Unfortunately, thatâ€™s not the case. Sure you can download content and that technically qualifies as â€œonline enabledâ€, but there is no reason for a team based shooter to not support actual online play. Replay value will be restricted only to single box multiplayer sessions of cooperative play. No death-match, no online play and no versus mode whatsoever limit the replay value. However, the four player co-op mode is definitely worth taking out for a spin or ten. Overall Though my first tour of duty in Baghdad was something of a let down, I can honestly say that CDS2: BtB didnâ€™t completely disappoint. Sure, itâ€™s full of bugs and riddled with poor A.I., but I still managed to eek out hours of game time with a few buds. Given the Xboxâ€™s recent influx of quality tactical shooters heavy on planning I canâ€™t fault CDS2â€™s simplified gameplay for being what it is. It is definitely a nice change, if only for a few hours, with the right amount of people. Look past the timing of the gameâ€™s release, look past the mediocre game design and look past your friendâ€™s head to make sure you arenâ€™t getting shot. Rent it and be happy.