Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Conflict: Global Storm Review (PS2)

The Conflict series was, for me, one of the highlights of the PS2 era and Conflict: Global Storm represents the peak of the series. Eschewing the themed settings of previous games in favour of a global setting, Global Storm was bigger, bolder and ultimately better than its predecessors and, sadly, it's much maligned successor, Conflict: Denied Ops. 

The Conflict series is built around the squad that the player controls: Bradley, the leader, Jones the explosives specialist, Connors the heavy weapons expert and Foley the sniper. You can play as any one of them and can cycle through them on the fly using the directional buttons and you can issue orders instructing them, either individually or as a unit, to follow you, hold their position, fire at will, move places or kill/interact with certain targets. Each character has their specific uses and the AI for each one is solid so there are never any problems when assigning tasks. 

After an optional bout of basic and/or advanced training, you are sent out on a mission but you are captured after having seemingly been betrayed. The goal of the game is of course to stop the bad guys but also to find out what happened to you and your team and the story gradually unfolds mission by mission. The story is far from being unique or interesting but its serviceable enough to mean the game isn't just a mindless shooter.  You won't bond with any of the characters because of the story but thankfully, due to their differing skill sets, you will almost certainly bond with at least one of them due to their weapons. For example I love Connors because I love his LMG. 

It's the gameplay that makes this game so good. The squad controls I already covered but they would mean nothing if the fire fights weren't great. The fact the enemies come in all sizes and use vehicles and that you are armed to the teeth with gadgets and guns makes fighting in this game absolute bliss. If you're pinned down in cover by a heavy machine gun you can chuck a smoke grenade and use the smoke to flank it. Under fire from a tank? Draw its gaze and have Connors go around and shoot it in the rear. The tactical options in the game are pretty much endless, you can even use stealth a lot of the time if you want to. Those tactics will be the difference between life and death because the enemies are smart and deadly and your health depletes rapidly. The game is never unfair but it is constantly challenging right from the get go. If you try and play it like a run and gun shooter like CoD, you will die. It's that simple. 

Graphically the game isn't too shabby, the animations are good, the weapons, enemies and environments are all detailed, well designed and varied and the frame rate holds up well even in the more note worthy firefights. It's far from being award winning but it's got better graphics than plenty of other PS2 shooters and shows a marked improvement over the Conflict games that came before it. Sound wise the game is pretty average. The soundtrack is fine but its not very interesting. It's very generic action type stuff. The sound effects for weapons and other items and actions are likewise ok but nothing particularly special. The voice acting also is just ok. It would have been nice for a bit more effort to have been put into the sound aspects of the game but, as it is, the poor sound isn't a deal breaker. 

The game also features online play but trying that out is easier said than done in 2013 so I don't know what that's like.

All things considered Conflict: Global Storm is a technically flawed but still highly enjoyable experience that sadly marked the peak of this once brilliant series. If you're a fan of tactical, squad based shooters then you'll be hard pressed to find a game better suited to you. 

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