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Posted on Sep 5, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Pacific Storm – Recon (PC)

By Jim Cobb

The heart of the strategic campaign is the Homeland screen and sub-menus. Here, players see how much money and amounts of the three resources they have, how many bases and what their armed forces are doing, and give them such basic orders as “Send to” a certain base. More importantly, orders are given for production and technology here. Production is spread across four categories: ships, planes, guns & sensors, and ammo. Ordering production costs time, money, and resources. Production is also tied in with the other key element of the Homeland screen, technology. Technological advances are subdivided into electronics, engines, weapons, construction, and purchasing technology from allies. Technology may only cost money and time but is a key factor in winning a long war. Up to approximately 25 advances can be researched. As with all strategic screens, more information on any item can be obtained by right-clicking and bring up a context menu.

The tech tree is fairly simple. Getting good naval dive bombers early is important.

If the Homeland screen is the heart of the campaign game, the base screens are the muscle and bone. Numerous things happen at bases. Warehouses and ports are built to gather and store raw materials. Industrial plants are established to earn money. Barracks, hospitals, and churches go up for the welfare of the servicemen and women while defenses are erected. Building orders are given through a spreadsheet as in the Homeland screen but completion is a function of the number of engineers on base.

When a base is solidly built, resources collected and production ramped up, bases take their role as the sharp end of the stick. The Formation tab of the Base screen has three panels: formations already there, units ready to be assigned, and possible formations to be created. As units arrive, the possible formations listed in that panel turn to green. Clicking on a green formation line brings up a sub-menu showing all units available for it. A complex hierarchy ranging from squadrons to fleets exists; however, creating a high-level formation at one base would take an inordinate amount of time. Players should build small components and combine them using a context menu. Of course, units must be combined properly, e.g. a tanker squadron can be combined with a battleship regiment but an aviation squadron won’t fit into a submarine regiment.

The Homeland screen yields an overview of resources. The Yamato is ready to be assigned.

Naturally, machines won’t work without people. The People tab allows sailors, pilots, soldiers, and engineers to be transferred between a base and formations. People rise through four ranks of experience that can be enhanced through training and maneuvers. A list of historical commanders from all service branches can be assigned to formations.

If bases sound like busy places, they are. Commanding one could be a game in itself. Fortunately, many auto-management options allow players to select their level of involvement.

Handling formations on the strategic map is a simply a matter of selection and right click on destination. Another context menu allows orders such as returning to base, escorting, patrolling and establishing a base. When enemy forces collide, players can choose to fight it out on a tactical level or have the computer resolve the battle. Tactical battle when attacking islands is limited to naval and air pounding of shore installations. Long-range bombers are useful for softening up invasion targets.

The course of the war consists of establishing and taking bases while damaging the enemy fleet and infrastructure while doing so. Maintenance of friendly forces is a priority as well as completing missions sent by the government. Four game speeds are available so that the long amount of time spent sailing and building are not drags on play. Multi-play capability via the Internet always enhances a game.

Combining three levels of play into a mammoth theater of operations is a bold move. By making such a move, Pacific Storm seems to have caught the essence of the conflict that should enthrall gamers of every stripe. The release version, even though it’s the last CDV game plagued by the nefarious Starforce protection system, will be a focus of discussion by gamers for a long time.

Minimum Requirements

Windows 2000/XP
Intel Pentium 4 1700 MHz or similar
|512 Mb RAM
3D video card, with 64 Mb memory (GeForce Ti4200, or similar)
1500 Mb HD
DirectX 9.1 compatible sound card
DirectX 9.0 or better

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