Everything you would expect from a budget title – but at full price
The History Channel: Battle for the Pacific has a great sounding title. With the apparent endorsement of the History Channel, it appears as though this game would have an enviable pedigree. But as often happens, the deal was secured before the game was completed. If the powers that be at the History Channel knew anything about first-person shooters, they would certainly have reconsidered having their name attached to this game. In terms of overall quality, it’s little more than you would expect from a budget title. Perhaps this could be re-titled and repacked to be given away on PBS during “begging week” when they ask you to help support the fine programming they deliver. So quit watching on your “neighbor’s dollar.”
I would definitely not feel guilty playing Battle for the Pacific on my neighbor’s dollar. And if given the opportunity, I would advise you to do so. The game is incredibly short, incredible basic, incredible buggy, and incredibly boring. You notice that the use of word “incredible” has been attributed to this game four times in one sentence, but not in favorable terms. So let’s examine what exactly makes this game not tick.
Battle for the Pacific, as the name implies, is set in the Pacific theater of WWII. This backdrop is as refreshing as a glass of vinegar after a hike through the desert. It’s almost as overused as the alien and monster theme. There have been a lot of good WWII shooters released over the last couple of years, so Battle for the Pacific has a lot to live up to just to be considered decent. It fails. Not only does it fail to stand up to the competition, it sets the genre back about a decade. It looks to me as though this game was going to be a RTS with shooting elements, but at some point the developers decided that it would be easier to just go with the shooting. There is definitely something missing. Not only is there a measurable lack of depth, but the game can be competed in an afternoon (I don’t do mornings). And if you’re looking for replay value, there’s absolutely nothing here that you would want to bother with again. Unless you would like to try to complete the single-player mode in less than three hours. The multiplayer component is nothing more than your typical variations on the Deathmatch and CTF themes. You are forced to spend a lot of time in the single-player mode amassing points for the online mode. Although it can take you days, I don’t consider this quality replay value.
You take on the role of a soldier performing his duties to help secure strategic positions in various campaigns including the famed Iwo Jima. There is little in the way of a storyline, which is fine, but there is nothing that reveals, or develops, the characters that would give you any reason to care about them. Whatever passes for voiceacting makes your comrades seem like robots with limited phrasing. You’ll forever find yourself having to follow the leader in each linear mission. You’re going to hear about it if you fall out of line, and I do mean hear about it. Voices will constantly nag at you to follow your leader. It’s safer to stay behind your leader, not that the game is difficult, but you’re in a much better position to take out the enemy. Also, if you stray too far from the leader, the mission is over. I could live with that if it were my fault, but sometimes the leader sprints through the jungle when I least expect it, making it virtually impossible to catch up to him. This happens during missions when you’re told to defend a certain area. I may be mistaken, but I was under the impression that defending meant to stay in the very spot I have been ordered to defend. Stupid me.
Some of the scenarios involving the A.I. are like a Marx Brothers’ movie. That includes both friendly and enemy A.I. The guide that you are supposed to follow will sometimes get stuck in the scenery or just freeze in one spot. At times, your other teammates seem to be involved in a different war than you are. While you’re busy firing at enemies on one side of the screen, they will ignore the immediate danger and start shooting at less threatening units – or not shoot at anything at all. The enemy A.I. is equally appalling as they will charge but not shoot. Or stand around doing nothing, just waiting to get picked off. It’s not like that all the time, there are some decent firefights, but overall the gameplay seems broken.
Weapons can be awkward to use, even with the mouse. It would be nice to spray some machinegun rounds into the jungle, but more often than not you’ll be relegated to the semi-automatics or even a pistol. Aiming your sights to the onscreen environment is tricky, as all it really does is allow you to zoom in. Good luck finding ammunition for the American weapons. There just doesn’t seem to be enough dead Americans lying around that you can scavenge ammo from. Fortunately you don’t have to search for health kits. You will automatically regenerate your health if you can stay out of the line of fire for a while.
There are some really nice graphics in the game, but so much of it seems repetitive. There are way too many jungle and trench scenes with only slight variations, many of which are just static. The cutscenes are well produced and even display some decent voiceacting. The same can’t be said in-game. Even with the resolution set higher, the overall quality of the graphics and animation see only the most marginal of improvements.
Many of the A.I., both friendly and enemy, look the same. There are only a few different character models. They animate well, but at times they will get stuck in the scenery or just freeze. There are also some framerate issues that make the game look choppy. Some sound effects, especially during melee combat, don’t trigger. The result is some silent battles which you get little satisfaction when dropping the enemy. The rifles can be dull sounding at times, and other times they will be so damn loud you can’t hear the voiceovers. Even the music is unbalanced and will attempt to drowned out the firefight.
I didn’t have any luck finding more than two people to play with online, and since some of the modes require at least four people, so I didn’t get to try them all out. And I certainly have no desire to check it out again. I might actually find some people online and then end up having to play some portion of this game again.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The graphics are the best part of the game, but there are some framerate issues. 2.4 Control
Weapons are sluggish. Aiming is not very precise. 2.3 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Some sound effects don’t trigger at all. Guns sound muted. 1.1 Play Value
Short single-player mode. Few people online to play with. 2.2 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.