Conflict: Global Terror
First, WWII was the topic of choice for videogames. Then there was a brief stint in Vietnam, and now it looks like the War on Terror is where all the action is. Conflict: Global Terror, the fourth installment in the long-running series, continues the trend of hardly adding anything new while maintaining the same problems as its predecessors. At least the redeeming qualities are still intact.
Conflict: Global Terror follows a squad of four different people, all of which are incredibly macho, even the girl. This elite squadron travels to infamous hotspots around the world, spreading freedom and justice wherever they go. The cutscenes interspersed throughout the 14 missions add some miniscule character development, but the clichéd dialogue makes it hard to take anything seriously. Conflict: Global Terror takes the hawk approach and doesn’t mess around with details and other pesky things.
You control one solider at a time with either a first-person or third-person view. Precise aiming can be frustrating at times, and switching weapons in the midst of combat takes far too long. The controls aren’t satisfactory while controlling one person, so things get even worse when having to give orders to three other soldiers.
Switching between the soldiers is a breeze thanks to the directional-pad, but giving orders can be a bit trickier. Holding the left trigger brings up the orders screen where you can tell the squad what to do: attack a certain target, hit the dirt, and other basic commands can be executed with the touch of a button. Some of the more complex orders can be problematic. Ordering a squadmate to be healed should be a snap, but if you miss the person slightly while aiming at them the squad simply moves to that area. Delayed commands can be micro-managed so that each squadmate can take a different position and action when the signal is given. However, this proves to be much more work than simply having your squad follow you all the time, which works just as well 90% of the time.
Although the control scheme has barely changed, the artificial intelligence has been greatly improved since the last game. Your squadmates are perfectly capable of eliminating the opposition. Also, the enemy forces do a good job of taking cover and laying down suppressive fire. Unfortunately, both sides seem to get confused when in close quarters. Occasionally they just stare at each other when up close, and the enemies have a nasty habit of simply charging into a group, which is practically suicide.
Despite the squad-based action and modern warfare setting, Conflict: Global Terror doesn’t even try to be realistic. Sure, there are plenty of weapons and gadgets, such as thermal vision and laser sights, but that’s about the extent of the realism. Terrorists come in by the dozen, and it takes more than a few shots to take them down. I shot one particularly ballsy fellow four times with a sniper rifle from ten feet away before he finally fell. It can be frustrating to unload a clip on someone before they die, but ammo is plentiful and so is the action, so it all works out in the end.
The level design is also more varied than it was in Conflict: Vietnam. There are urban environments and elaborate terrorist compounds in addition to the jungles from the last game, which makes for a nice blend of close-combat and long-range firefights. The level objectives are more varied with escort missions, clearing out certain areas, and destroying key objects, but they still wind up repetitive as the game progresses. The worst part is that certain doors only become magically unlocked after beating an objective. Imagine if the actual War on Terror involved bombing an object on the other side of town in order for a random door to open.
Where the Conflict series has consistently delivered is in the cooperative gameplay, which is also the case here. Up to four players can play via splitscreen or a system link. New to the series is online action. Each level is unlocked from the start, so you can pick and play as you see fit. The best thing about co-op is that it eliminates the unwieldy squad controls in exchange of more rewarding human teamwork.
Unfortunately, the graphics are practically the same they’ve always been. The levels are enormous, but that’s no excuse for some of the poor textures. Everything looks simplistic and outdated, from the sparse jungles to the dull urban environments. The enemies are very repetitive, so it’s not uncommon to be attacked by two or three of the same characters. My roommate asked me if this was a budget game when he saw it in action, and the answer was a disappointed “no.”
The sound is equally inadequate. While the limited voice acting gets the job done and little else, the music is horrendous. The title screen music sounds like it would feel right at home in an NES game that takes place in what’s supposed to be a dance club. The few other tunes aren’t nearly as bad, but they still aren’t appropriate for a game that tries to be a sleek militaristic thriller.
Despite being the fourth game in the series Conflict: Global Terror doesn’t add a whole lot to the franchise. The improved A.I. and online cooperative play are more than welcome, but it still isn’t enough to bring the series to the next level. It looks like this conflict is stuck in a stalemate.