World War II Combat: Iwo Jima Review
World War II Combat: Iwo Jima box art

System: Xbox, PC

Review Rating Legend
Dev: Direct Action 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Groove Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 - online 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Cole 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
If you're going to avoid just one game this year, make sure it's this one.
by Cole Smith

There’s an old saying, albeit not all that old considering it was coined during the 60s counter-culture revolution, and it goes something like this: What if they gave a war and nobody came? It’s a nice thought, naïve, but nice nonetheless. I never really paid if much mind, simply because it was the kind of fancy that could never, ever possibly be fulfilled – that is until the release of World War II Combat: Iwo Jima. Someone is giving a war and nobody’s buying.

 World War II Combat: Iwo Jima screenshot

First of all we have to get this disclaimer out of the way. World War II Combat: Iwo Jima is a budget-priced game. As if this somehow excuses it from being crappy. Truth be told, it actually gives budget games a bad name. Budget games have their place, with that place being the garbage bin for titles such as this. The graphics look as though they were created during WWII – they look that dated. The shooting aspect of the gameplay is compromised thanks to a faulty aiming system and a very unbalanced AI that manages to shoot you when they fire around corners but also end up running toward a live grenade and ultimately to their death. There are also some bugs that cause the game not to save your progress and that damn fog of war is so prevalent that it’s virtually impossible to see what’s coming right in front of you.

Historically you will learn a little about the battle for Iwo Jima but the actual gameplay is anything but authentic. The cutscenes are actual footage of the battle that took place in the spring of 1945. Iwo Jima is a barren, volcanic island in the Pacific but its value as an American airfield would prove invaluable to the war effort as it would make a perfect strategic landing and refueling destination for the Americans to continue their fight with Japan. Before the Americans invaded, the island was embedded with more than 20,000 Japanese troops. Only a little more than a thousand survived the onslaught.

 World War II Combat: Iwo Jima screenshot

Arriving at Iwo Jima with only a handful of men in your squad, they are quickly gunned down leaving you to deal with the thousands of bloodthirsty Japanese all by your lonesome, like some bad Rambo movie. As mentioned, these Japanese have magic bullets that seem to find their target regardless of where they are aiming their guns. You on the other hand, are hampered by poor aiming mechanics, especially ranged shooting which is highly inaccurate but essential for your survival since getting into close combat spells certain death against these supernatural marksmen. There is no way to regain health, once you start taking hits, you’re on a downhill slide. If you lose your life you’ll have to start over from the last checkpoint. But not all is saved. There are times when some of your completed objectives won’t be saved. Each mission has different objectives such as finding something or saving someone. To go through all of that successfully only to find that the game doesn’t recognize it is incredibly frustrating. To add to the frustration, in each mission there are three collectibles that will unlock more real war footage. If you manage to find Japanese war memorabilia in the form of a katana, helmet and period-era flag, you might be able to look forward to a war video, but if you lose your life before you complete the mission, you also lose the collectibles. Backtracking is not an option. The only way that you can get your collectibles back is to repeat the entire mission.

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As awful as repeating any of these single-player mission sounds, it’s something that you’re going to have to get used to. Due to the unfair advantages of the enemy, including the fog of war that prevents you from seeing what lies ahead, you will constantly be surprised by waves of enemies as you push forward without the ability to obtain any intelligence or reconnaissance. This will usually end in your death. Only after memorizing where the various pockets of enemies are to be found and taking preventative measures through trial and error will you be able to successfully accomplish all missions. The AI is not very realistic and in a fair fight they wouldn’t be able to stand a chance against you, but who said anything about fair?

 World War II Combat: Iwo Jima screenshot

At the start of each mission you will be given a weapon set which cannot be changed until the mission is completed. I can live with that. The typical weapon set includes a pistol, rifle, perhaps a machinegun and some specialty weapon such as grenades, rocket launcher or flamethrower. At times you will run into enemies that are manning huge machinegun turrets which you are virtually defenseless against, except when you’re a good distance away - but just see if you have a rocket launcher with you at that point. You always seem to have the wrong weapons for the task at hand. Occasionally you will be able to pick up some weapons in the field, but not so with the machinegun turrets. It seems that only the Japanese have the keys for them.

The Xbox version features a four-player, split screen mode, and if you want to play with other humans, that’s about the only way you’re going to do it. Online is a barren wasteland. While it purports to accommodate 16 players online, you’re not going to find that many players with a copy of this game. Online modes include the requisite frag fests including Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Last Man Standing and team variations. The good news is that you can play these online modes with bots. That’s right. It seems the developers anticipated that you would be the only person in the world to purchase this game.

 World War II Combat: Iwo Jima screenshot

Overall the game looks dull, like old film left out in the sun. It’s all grey and brown. The characters animate like corpses and the enemy are all clones of one non-descript Japanese soldier. The sound effects are decent and the music is actually good but after hearing the same sounds and tunes, you’ll probably want to turn the volume off. Hey, while you’re up, you might as well turn the TV off as well.

Features:

  • Relive the storied Marine assault that landed the first foreign troops on Japanese soil in 5,000 years. Scenarios and missions are drawn from actual events.
  • 10 levels of exciting single player campaigns full of ambient events such as mortar explosions, overhead aircraft and warning sirens that create a truly immersive experience.
  • Use authentic WWII weaponry including KA-BAR Fighting Utility Knife, M1911 .45 Colt, M1 Garand, M1903A4 Springfield, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), M1 Thompson Submachine gun (“Tommy” Gun), Mk2 Pineapple Grenade and the M2-2 Flamethrower.
  • Extreme Multiplayer Action with up to 16 players on Xbox Live or system link, 4 player split screen and Internet (PC)
  • 10 Expansive Multiplayer Maps including Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, King of the Hill, Capture the Flag, VIP Escort, & Last Man Standing
  • Fully featured bots, with adjustable difficulty levels, for online multiplayer and training modes

    By Cole Smith
    CCC Senior Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    1.5

    Graphics
    Old, stiff, colorless and tired. Yeah, that could describe me too but I'm talking about the game here.

    1.8

    Control
    In close range the weapons are quite effective, but you really need them for ranged warfare where the aiming is atrocious.

    2.8

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The sound effects and soundtrack are good but they lack variety.

    .5

    Play Value
    The potential for replay value is there, but online it appears that no one is interested in going to war.

    1.6

    Overall Rating - Avoid
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images

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