Reviews// Battlestations: Pacific

Posted 28 May 2009 12:22 by
Games: Battlestations: Pacific
The US military (boats, ships, planes, generally bad-ass attitude) is fighting the Imperial Japanese forces (boats, planes, ships, generally... you get the idea). It's WWII. The Yanks want to capture Okinawa. The Japanese want to stop them.

But there's more...

Historical Spoiler Alert
Firstly, I'm a history nerd... I was actually going through the war papers of a relative of mine last evening... a signalman aboard Invincible, Nelson and HMS Hood during WWII... I digress. The spoiler here is that in WWII, the battle for Guadalcanal was won by the USA. The Japanese withdrew... this enabled the US to consider an attack on the Japanese mainland. But what the hell, dropping a pair of large bombs on populated cities seemed like a better option... at least if you wanted to impress the Russians... but I digress again.
End Historical Spoiler

With Battlestations: Pacific, however, you get to play both sides of the conflict meaning that you don't need to agree with the decision made by Colonel Joichiro Sanada to withdraw. Playing as the Japanese, you can in fact win the battle and possibly turn the tide of the war. That said, I'd refer to the large bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki... so, maybe not so much of a victory in the long run.

That's the thing with 'What if' history, a keystone of this game. In fact, it's one of the things that lifts BSP above what can be a fascinating but tedious genre of gaming.

Now, an admission, I didn't play Battlestations: Midway, the previous game in the series. Yes, I know. ?What the hell are you doing playing and reviewing this one!!?? Simple really, first time round, I missed out. I understand that it had its problems, but what the hell, the first version of Kick Off on the Amiga had its problems... they only meant that Kick Off 2 was improved.

Onto this one... and a spoiler for the conclusion. I liked it. I didn't love it. I liked it. I liked the fact that I could indeed immerse myself in the minutiae of deploying resources left right and centre. However, the fact that you can also jump into a boat ( yes, subs are called boats), a ship or a plane (you can even grab a gun emplacement) and do some good, solid blasting, it also appealing.

So, already three things that should make your average war-gamer raise more than a saluting hand in interest: 'What if?', 'detailed movement of men and materiel', 'blasting the bejabbers out of things'.

Here's one thing that did not endear me to the game however - the 'getting to know you' opening, practice mode. It's effectively, learn how to fly this ship or drive this plane or sink this boat. While the game itself is an immersive, expansive ? and very, very visually attractive ? one, you could be lead to believe by the opening that it was a particularly plodding kill-em-up. Don't be fooled.

Get past this quickly. Learn the basics and then get into the campaign modes. Also, play through the single-player in order to get used to the way in which the 'hands-on, blast things from the cockpit/conning tower' option is mixed with the tactical aspects. There is a mix and it's reliant on the AI, your side's and the enemy's. This is fine ? and must have been a chore and a joy to code ? but maybe, just maybe, the AI could be tweaked to provide just one maverick... some AI who decides not to attempt to do everything quite so by the book.
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Games: Battlestations: Pacific

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