Conflict Desert Storm II is set in the middle of the first gulf war. Although the actual war only lasted four days, there is a variety of missions for players to undertake and it appears the developers have lifted some of the objectives directly from the war. Before each mission a CG movie may play but a briefing is also given to you by your commander. After this during the loading time, text is displayed on screen detailing information about the war in progress including dates and location.
Conflict Desert Storm II is primarily a single player game. You take command of either the Delta Force or SAS (basically either the United States or United Kingdom) special forces and perform covert operations behind enemy lines. Nothing changes depending on which squad you choose which is a missed opportunity. For instance the first mission is to rescue a downed Delta force by finding their chopper. Even if playing as the Delta force this mission doesn't change to rescuing the SAS, so really the only changes are aesthetic. Even the soldiers are the same.
Throughout Conflict Desert Storm II's missions you will encounter a variety of objectives which must be completed. They can range from the aforementioned search and rescue, and subsequent protection of another special forces unit, destroying oil refineries, infiltrating enemy bases or just getting from one point to another. The missions somewhat interconnect at times but for most of the game they are individual, however the storyline is continuous.
You will have command of four special operatives; Jones, Foley, Bradley and Connors. Each specialising in various weaponry and skills. For instance only Jones can use and detonate C4 and only Connors can use heavy weaponry. The other two are fairly jack-of-all trades except for Foleys sniping ability. Using these squad mates effectively together is required if you are to be victorious. At times it can be advantageous to break the group up and have someone scout ahead as opposed to rushing in and getting shot.
Each of the operatives have basic weaponry available for use but some have specialised arsenals. For instance in some missions, you will have to "tag" enemy tanks with an infrared camera. This calls in an air strike and is useful in missions against strong enemy tanks. Other unique weaponry includes bazookas, C4 and tank mines. All of the operatives carry a high powered rifle and pistol, so all can get the job done. If an operative is incapacitated, another operative can heal them within a certain amount of time. This means that you aren't overly punished for making a wrong move with one unit.
As you progress through the missions you will come up against varying degrees of AI. The AI in the game is fairly smart and will use cover and other protection to hide. If an alarm is raised all hands will be on deck and you will have some problems progressing. For instance some of the AI units may hide in a building waiting to ambush you, whilst others may charge towards your units. Enemy units you will encounter include soldiers, tanks, mounted guns and enemy gun ships.
Some will be taken down with normal fire whilst others will require specialist weapons. Conflict Desert Storm II isn't overly hard but there is quite a bit of guess and checking involved at times and you will have to use your brain to think of strategies. The only way to pass land mines in a truck is to make them explode with a grenade first. There are also varying degrees of difficulty so once finished you can crank it up a notch and try it all again.
The missions are set deep within enemy territory and as you would expect infiltrating and moving through enemy bases is quite common. The buildings are fairly drab and consistent without much variation so at times it can be quite boring to look at. Some elements of the environment, such as enemy trucks are destructible but don't expect to be able to destroy everything.
Control wise the game is superb. The developers have really thought about the best way to utilise the Xbox controller. The right trigger is used to fire, Y is used to change weapons, the left trigger is used to give commands to the other squad units, B is used to crouch or lay prone and clicking the right thumb stick in will zoom in (if applicable). DPAD is used to select which operative you wish to control.
Graphically Conflict Desert Storm II is fairly impressive but as mentioned before some of the environments look drab and boring. This is due to the consistency across missions however there are some great graphical effects. For instance one mission is set during a sandstorm and the viewable distance is lowered offering a new challenge. The soldiers movements and animations are one of the highlights of the game and the AI appears to feature some ragdoll animations. At times you can also control vehicles such as a jeep to transport operatives.
Sound wise its fairly what you would expect with a cinematic soundtrack and stock standard sound effects for the weapons. The units feature some unique accents which does make it easy to tell who is asking for help or giving commands.
Xbox Live compatibility is included, but instead of online gameplay only downloadable content is offered. This was a folly on the part of the developers because co-operative online could have pushed this title even further in terms of appeal. The only multiplayer offered is co-operative on the same machine.
Conflict Desert Storm II has pick up and play gameplay. If you don't like squad shooters such as Brute Force, then you probably won't like this game but if you've been after a decent squad based shooter for the Xbox then this could be it. It's just a shame they didn't put online gameplay in as that would have no doubt propelled this game into must buy status.