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Battlestations: Pacific (PC)

Battlestations: Pacific (PC)

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Battlestations: Pacific is the followup to 2007‘s Battlestations: Midway, a title which was a good seller for Eidos. Pacific is a bigger venture with a new Japanese campaign to partner with the American campaign and there are other touches to bring it firmly into 2009.

As before the battles are not based on real life incidents but are instead a colourful interpretation of historical events. The whole design is geared towards ensuring that players can just jump in and enjoy the game.

Impressively there is a good mixture of game play throughout the various campaigns and you take control of planes, bombers, submarines and even a plethora of battleships and carriers. While the actual events aren’t true to life, the various weapons of destruction are accurate, well detailed and the unit design is very impressive. Unfortunately there are some glaring issues which tend to lower the overall experience for me.

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Some of the scenarios (submarine missions spring to mind) rely on a timing algorithm, which means you need to get your positions and movements almost perfect or you surely die and have to continue from a previously saved place. To be fair it is not all bad as some of the missions are extremely fun to play, my personal favourite are the fighter and bomber missions, when you get the chance to blow up a massive range of installations and other boats and aircraft.

Each of the missions offers a lot of gameplay within the campaigns as they can have multiple sections and you may have to infiltrate a base, take over an aircraft carrier then launch attacks from it. As an additional mechanic, you can switch quickly between various vehicles manually and you can use an overview strategy map to relay orders to specific units under your command.

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From the strategic overview you can also create formations as well as launch squadrons into the battlefield. These controls are not particularly intuitive at times, however the developers have a system in place which only hands you a few at a time to ease the learning threshold. There are also options to use a gamepad if you find it easier, although I found the keyboard and mouse worked fine for most of the units. Flight experts may find the pad a more viable prospect.

While single player is relatively enjoyable if a little frustrating at times multiplayer is really where I got the most enjoyment. With a few friends we had some fantastic sessions and the pleasure of hoping between battleships and fighter aircraft while attacking and defending key locations kept us coming back for more.

There are duel modes that allow you to challenge another player to take out a target first however we had the most fun with Island Capture which is as simple as it sounds. You move around the map and take control of islands. First you select the vehicle you want to control and then you charge into battle. If you get killed you respawn and can select a different unit which means you can adjust your strategy on the fly depending on your enemies position and unit control. My colleague stated that the multiplayer was very like a Battlefield experience and I would have to agree.

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The only issue with multiplayer unfortunately is a rather large one in that some of the battles are massively unfair. For instance you can start some missions with boats that have a much longer fire range than anything else in the game and by the time most units can get near to them, they are badly damaged. The Iowa’s are probably the most powerful unit in the game and are devastating from long range. This is fine on some maps, but there are a few levels when you can’t unlock the options you need to make it a competitive game.

Graphically the game is impressive with fantastic effects on the water surfaces and cloud formations. Little touches such as water spraying across the screen and shards of debris littering the environment are welcomed and add to the overall realism of the game. Even zooming into the bigger battleships shows a fantastic amount of texture detail as you can see the sailors walking around to attend to their duties.

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Sadly, the audio is not to the same level and some of the voice acting is substandard which is disappointing although the macho voices of some of the western characters in the game are entertaining … for all the wrong reasons.

Overall however Battlestations: Pacific is a fun and rewarding game which is enjoyable in both single player and multiplayer. There are some issues which lower the score but i can see a relatively large audience getting a lot of game time from the experience. I would be lying if I said I didn’t.

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Quite a good level of variety on offer which means this is not strictly a short term affair.
Very capable engine and some great attention to detail.
Disappointing voice overs and some distinctly average cut scenes ruin the overall appeal.
Online will hopefully attract a larger audience, but it is already quite good.
(Not an Average)
A game deserving of your attention.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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