Pacific Storm Review

There are a few RTS titles coming out these days which seem to be a mixture of traditional RTS gameplay and other genres. For example, 2003’s Savage: The Battle for Newerth managed to incorporate both RTS and FPS elements into one game. Sadly, it’s not very often a game comes along which mixes genres, and manages to do it well. Pacific Storm is Lesta Studio’s attempt at just that, incorporating RTS, tactical simulation and combat flight simulation elements into one World War II title. While there are some flaws, Pacific Storm combines these gameplay genres together in an interesting mix – but it certainly isn’t the best of all the worlds.

The basic mode of play is a campaign mode, in which you go through the various missions; there are also specific historical missions you can play through. Events such as the Pearl Harbor attack or the sinking of the Yamato battleship are available, and all these maps can be played in single and multiplayer games. The game also ships with a battle planner (basically a simplified missions editor) which allows players to create their own missions. The historical missions are generally harder, since they’re shaped to accurately portray the actual battles, while the campaign mode is more lenient in terms of difficulty and unit production.

In game, there are two stages of gameplay you’ll go through as you wage each mission: the strategic mode, which is essentially a massive board game, and the tactical level, where you actually command units in real-time. For you strategy/Risk buffs, you can play through the strategic mode as much as you like and not even see hints of the tactical level if you don’t want too, since there is a mode where you have your battles play out automatically. During the course of a match, you’ll start off by placing bases around the land, upgrading buildings and defenses and creating your military fleets. Managing your bases and fleets can get very mind-boggling (pages and pages of in-depth analysis), and this is where I felt overburdened by everything. You can set it so that the management runs itself, but I at least wanted to know a little of what is being processed, and if you do too you’ll need to prepare yourself for the pages of stats. Collecting resources (iron for ships, aluminum for planes, money and oil for unit movement) is part of the strategic mode as well, and allows you to build your units for the tactical portion of the game.

The tactical level of the game allows you command various naval or air units in real time. Formations are pretty key for your units – especially for the naval units, since if you’re caught off-guard or only have one ship going against a fleet of enemy ships, you’ll run into plenty of problems. If you want to mix it up, however, you can easily hop into a plane or man a gun on a ship which can be a lot more entertaining. The dimensions for flying planes are relatively simple, and not too hardcore. There are the usual dynamic physics you have to be aware of, but flying won’t be mind boggling easy or hard. You also don’t have to worry about micromanagement, because once you hop into a plane or man a gun the game,s AI will control the rest of your units.

While controlling your ships or planes, you can set various "modes" on how your ships/planes behave. All of these parameters I found to be a little overwhelming at times, since it’s a lot to maintain for all of your units. The behavior, their type of aggressiveness (if they go head on or back off), their distance, direction, speed, altitude, depth and attack preference are all there to command. For example, submarines can only use specific weaponry at specific depths. If they are semi-submerged with your periscope out, you can’t shoot your torpedoes.

Over 24 ship types (plenty of destroyers, aircraft carriers and subs), 36 aircrafts and 20 guided rockets , bombers and other units are at your disposal. Of course, you’ll have to research the newer units to be able to use them. Researching new technologies is generally broken up into a few categories: engines (leads to upgraded aircrafts and rockets), electronics (leads to improved radar, sonar and equipment for winged, tactical and ballistic missiles), weapons (leads to upgraded guided weapons, new cannons and machine guns) and construction (leads to improved plane and ship construction).

At times, the visuals can really set how epic and hectic battles can be. Using the camera to go sea level and then raising the camera to follow some dog fights paints the picture on how some skirmishes can really scale up. However, at times, I found it to be hard to fully be in control of all my units at all times since battles can easily span through many, many planes and many ships. The interface lays out what is happening, but many of the icons are pretty cumbersome; I found it hard to fully realize what the many buttons do at first. Another complaint of mine is that the detail of units can get relatively generic – especially when there are many units on the screen. The game hosts some graphical options like reflections (water, land), and landscape specific options like flammable trees and craters, but overall the visuals are general and mediocre.

In the end, Pacific Storm is not the best of three genres put together, but it’s certainly not the worst. The game provides solid tactical gameplay and air/ship simulation, but the gameplay can be tough – especially for new gamers. The interface can get really cluttered and detract from the battles, too. Want to command your fleet, but also participate in the battles your fleet will fight? Pacific Storm allows you to do that. If you’re looking for a game which will provide a challenge and do some things you haven’t seen before, give Pacific Storm a try.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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