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Posted on Nov 21, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Pacific Storm – Game Review (PC)

By Larry Levandowski

Research/Production Screen Sadly, no daisy-cutter research can be found

There are a few problems with this sub-game. Screens pop up regularly and stop the clock annoyingly. If players chose to automate logistics, they’ll find that the AI steals tankers and transports them at the most critical of times. But these issues, while a bit frustrating, don’t take away too much from the fun factor.


When players feel their nation is ready, they can attack or wait for the enemy to start the war first. When forces collide, a battle screen pops up allowing players to fight themselves or have it auto-resolved. For minor battles, the auto-battle AI seems to do pretty well for itself. Since it can easily take 10 or 15 min to fight a new battle, it’s not uncommon to have a lot of them. Players that choose detailed battle are taken to the tactical side of the game. Base improvements show up as 3d buildings and are present in the right locations. Using an intuitive interface, ship and air formations can be decided in several start locations. The maps are big enough to support putting aircraft carriers at long stand-off distance.

Once in battle, players have the option of jumping into aircraft and manning ship anti-air positions. This part of the game is somewhere between simulator and arcade game, and so much fun! There is some sense of realistic flight characteristics. Stalling is possible but not spins. Fighters are much more nimble than bombers. Bomb runs are done by using a floating target crosshair on the ground, and not a bombsight. This sounds strange, but actually works well. The enemy AI is competent enough to provide a challenge, but you won’t see realistic air combat tactics.

Enemy AI in the tactical battle seems to only know how to charge, even against outrageous odds. This sometimes has some very strange results. When US forces at Wake were being attacked by a large group of submarines, the Japanese submariners sailed on the surface into the middle of the Wake horse-shoe, guns and torpedo tubes blazing; a nautical charge of the light brigade. They were slaughtered by waiting US destroyers. Again, realism isn’t much of a factor.

Sunset The scenery can be stunning at times

For most of the game, graphics are fairly good, but not ground-breaking. There are a few areas, like bomber cockpits, where some graphics look like throw-backs to a bygone era, but they didn’t distract from the experience. The external graphics during tactical battles can often be quite beautiful. Sound is one area that could use improvement. Radio chatter was rather repetitive and annoying. Gunfire sounded completely underwhelming, and the music left something to be desired.

The game comes with a 160 page manual and several tutorials. Despite its weight, the manual is as much about describing the units available, as about how to play. Tutorials are accessed through the main menu. While they do the job of getting the player up to speed, they were very rough and somewhat of a chore to plow through.

Initial attempts to play were plagued by crashes to desktop but a visit to the support forums on Buka’s website quickly resolved that. Many players may not be that patient however and miss a great game. Until the patch comes out, it is a real shame that joysticks can’t be used for the first person simulator. Keyboard control of aircraft takes away so much from the flight experience. The game also seems to be a memory monster. On this rig, with 1 gig of RAM and 250 MB of video memory, it was still necessary to add more virtual memory. Also, while large battles are supported, the game moves at a crawl if any other applications are running in the background.

Overall, Pacific Storm is a great game. It has some problems to be certain; but none of them are so erroneous to take away from the fluid gameplay design. In the future, patches may improve the game even more but for the time being we’ve still got a game all of us computer generals are going to be talking about for a long time to come.

Armchair General Score: 85%

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