|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cauldron||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-12 (online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jason Lauritzen
Quick, answer these two questions. Name the one genre that has saturated the market. If you answered the "first person shooter" then you're correct. Okay, now for the next question. What particular historical period has provided the source material for this genre more than any other? If you answered "World War II" you're correct yet again. Now, surely developer Cauldron must have asked themselves the same questions. Why have did they ignore the clear signs that the market could do without another WWII shooter?
The History Channel: Battle for the Pacific is a no risk, by-the-numbers kind of game. It sticks to the standard first person scheme and has no desire to break out of any kind of design box. You take the role of Delvinski (no first name here, folks), a U.S. solider fighting in the the Pacific theater of World War II. Considering most WWII shooters center on European campaigns, this different backdrop provides a refreshing change of pace. You'll storm beaches, clear out trenches, comb through jungles, and even help plant the flag at Iwo Jima. And you'll do it in under three hours with little fanfare.
The most apparent problem with Battle for the Pacific is the Japanese enemies you encounter. Now, a FPS needs at least two elements: solid artificial intelligence and believable hit detection. Let's discuss the first element. From beginning to end, the Japanese do not put up an intelligent fight. Enemies spawn in predetermined locations and lack any kind of common sense. You can fire a few rounds and then retreat around a corner. The expectation would normally be for an enemy to follow you. Not in this game. The Japanese soldiers will simply stand there, waiting for you to run around the corner and finish them off. They also seem to have no concern for explosives. You can throw a grenade at a group of soldiers and instead of them scattering or diving to find cover, they will stare at the grenade until it lets out its predictable blast.
As far as hit detection is concerned, the game is flat-out broken and easily exploitable. Here's where the exploitable angle comes in: the aiming cursor is white when there is nothing to shoot, red when there is. There's only one problem with this system: the cursor turns red a foot or two away from an enemy. As long as you fire in the general direction of an enemy soldier, you're pretty much guaranteed a hit. No challenge there.
Lots of shots fired means lots of dead bodies. One would assume that shooting different parts of the body results in different death animations. Not here. The majority of enemies have a peculiar death pose: their knees buckle forward while their back bends in the opposite direction.