The Gulf War, aside from a couple of films, and references in a couple of shows here and there, it’s not a conflict that gets a lot of media attention, let alone video game adaptations. But it can be done. In 2002, Pivotal games and SCI games depicted a selection of stories from a crack unit, deep in the then decade-old Gulf War conflict. In the appropriately named Conflict: Desert Storm.
The game follows an elite military unit in the Gulf War, you control the team as they are deployed to first rescue their membership and then grown in skill and experience, as long as they survive each hostile encounter. In the game, you execute a variety of missions to help the conflict, these range from rescuing POWs to stopping ICBM, to tracking and thwarting the general in charge of the opposing forces. In short, doing anything in your power to liberate Kuwait City during the height of Desert Storm.
I like the option of choosing to play as either British or American forces, true there were a lot of other countries in the coalition, but I reckon that would throw in a lot of localisation issues, Still, They are pretty similar in how they handle the missions, so the choice is purely a cosmetic. The combat is what you would expect from the time, you move your guy, sneak around, and take aim at anybody who gets in your way. Your guys can become skilled in the weapons as they progress through the campaign and will react quicker to the enemy as they gain experience. The characters specialities do allow some precision and tactics, and you can switch between team members at will for coordinated takedowns. As well as command them to provide suppressing fire, cover you. Occasionally you get the chance to call in artillery and airstrikes to help in tough situations.
In terms of gunplay, the game’s aiming and shooting evoke similar games like Operation Flashpoint and other tactical shooters from the time. You can also switch to a first-person view to help you better aim at a target, or just take in the scenery. It’s pretty easy to get to grips with the controls and there’s a handy tutorial, that takes you through a virtual Boot Camp, this is typical of most military-themed video games, even with the Full Metal Jacket inspired drill instructor.
Conflict Desert Storm is an engaging account of a conflict that doesn’t get as much media coverage, let alone video game adaptations. The series has gone on to cover more conflicts, like Vietnam, and has returned to the Gulf War, but its 2002 offering is a great jumping-off point for the franchise. Outside of its rather unique setting, Conflict Desert Storm is 15 missions of growth, a fun action shooter, with a nice tactical edge.
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