Charge into Battle!
January 30, 2009 – Not all of the greatest battles held throughout one of history’s most prominent wars were land-based campaigns fought with tanks, artillery, and footmen. However, looking at the slate of World War II-themed titles available across the broad spectrum of gaming platforms, you’d think this couldn’t be further from the truth. Naval and air battles were integral fronts in past military conflicts in the 1940s, yet first-person shooters, real-time strategy titles, and flight combat titles tend to account for the bulk of WWII gaming opportunities.
Eidos Interactive attempted to fill some of the void in naval-centric video game warfare, with Battlestations: Midway on PC and Xbox 360. The mixture of action-intensive seafaring and airborne combat wrapped into a light real-time strategy whet player’s palates for more. Seeking to build on its past successes, Eidos seems hopeful the improvements it’s bringing to the formula in Battlestations: Pacific will blow players out of the water. While the game should feel very similar to those who played 2007’s Midway, a number of high-end graphical flourishes and changes in gameplay options should make the title a big contender for the hard-earned cash of war-game enthusiasts seeking a single title that packs a ton of variety.
While Battlestations: Midway provided a story revolving around a main character – a Navy recruit named Henry Walker who winds up in Pearl Harbor right as the Japanese forces unleash their massive and devastating attack in 1941 – to connect the conflicts together, Battlestations: Pacific takes a different approach. Players will experience the war from a multitude of perspectives and serve in different roles throughout the game. In addition to the American campaign, the game will let you play as the Japanese armies. The dual campaigns and multiplayer additions should provide a tremendous level of replay value. Not only that, you’ll also be able to change the outcome of (virtual) history should you win as the Axis forces. This might ruffle some feathers, but it’s a unique change of pace from WWII game tradition.
Like its predecessor, Battlestations: Pacific is all about blending game genres and offering players plenty of options and ways to bask in the glory of war. You’ll take control of numerous vehicles, including aircraft, battleships, submarines, and others armed to teeth. The game lets you pull back from the action to control the battle in a real-time strategy format that should feel like old hat for PC gaming armchair veterans. Additionally, you can jump into any of the vehicles on the battlefield for a more action-heavy, hands-on approach to combat. The mixture of the two gameplay styles was a uniquely winning combination in the last game and looks to be even better this time around.
Battlestations Pacific adds 21 new units into the fray and boasts over 100 different types of playable, death-dealing vehicles to jump into. Although the emphasis is still primarily on air and sea battles, you’ll also be able to send paratroopers and landing parties onto terra-firma to capture important objectives. These troop units won’t be controlled directly in the same way as the game’s many vehicles, but you can use them to expand your military influence on land as well. Adding another level of depth into the action, you can now strategically disable ships by focusing fire on their crucial operating systems like their engines, magazines, and fuel tanks. Sometimes watching a dangerous and powerful vessel come to a crippling halt is far more satisfying than blowing it up outright.
Controlling and managing your forces was a slightly daunting task at times in Midway, and Eidos is thankfully streamlining the interface to let players man their battlestations and process incoming combat information with greater ease and efficiency. By revamping a number of interface elements – including the crucial task of making mid-combat repairs to your ailing vessels – the development team aims to make issuing commands and controlling units in the heat of battle more accessible. These adjustments will hopefully downgrade some of the steep learning curve of the previous game, though expect to take some time learning the ropes before diving into the fray.
The visual overhaul and graphical upgrades being implemented are already very impressive. From animated crewmembers that walk around on deck and respond to the concussive blasts and fiery explosions unfolding around them to the stunning details etched into terrain and units (including the ability to adorn your bombers and planes with classic pin-up girls), this sequel’s visuals are shaping up excellently. Battles will take place during the daytime and at night, with weather having an impact on engagements. Environmental elements also come into play strategically. Whether its clouds being used as cover during airborne assaults or underwater terrain masking your approach in a sub, the sights in Battlestations: Pacific are there for more than their beauty.
With Battlefield: Pacific bent on taking World War II to new heights (and depths), the coupling of intense action and strategy is enough to set make for some deeply engaging warfare in the coming months. Chin up solder; the war is coming.