Due to the arcade nature of its combat and presentation, Battlestations: Pacific screams “average!” at you from the off. While it’s tempting to dismiss it as a bland arcade fly-fly bang-bang game, this would be doing it a great disservice. It falls between that particular stool and the one marked “Incomprehensible simulation”. So, while it does appeal to adrenaline whores, it also has a deal of depth to it that will surprise many.
Set in the Pacific theatre of World War II, the game is nothing if not ambitious. It allows you to control planes, boats, short-mounted artillery and flak cannons and submarines. You can dive straight into the action yourself, dive-bombing dreadnoughts and carriers, or take a step back and issue commands either in-cockpit or using a relatively clumsy tactical map. With over 100 air, sea and undersea units to unlock there’s plenty for the obsessive to aim for.
The meat of the offline game is in the two campaigns, one featuring the usual US post-Midway missions, and the other allowing you to fight for the Japanese forces, perhaps screaming “For the Emperor!” and “You build bridge now!” at the top of your lungs. Each campaign is set up with a particularly rousing (and long) cinematic, before you head into each mission, which could involve bombing the US troops at Pearl Harbour or eliminating waves of Japanese Zeroes as they attack your bombers.
However, perhaps the most intriguing thing about the game is the great potential the multiplayer has. Eidos Hungary have provided numerous different modes that cover all the material within the game, including Island Capture, Domination and Escort. All of this sounds like great fun, but the arcade nature of many aspects of the gameplay, and the very fact that there are so many different facets to it all, makes the whole slightly less than the sum of its parts. While each individual element is fun, there’s almost too much to consider at any one time, especially on the Island Capture multiplayer mode.