Written by  :  Ray Soderlund (3609)
Written on  :  Jul 09, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars

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For the more serious simulator fan, an enjoyable tour of duty in the skies over the Pacific Theatre

The Good

The Corsair, the Zero, Wildcats and Hellcats. I love simulations of the air war in the Pacific in WW2. The extreme mismatch of dogfighting styles, the carrier landings and take-offs, the diving through flak and fighter cover to bomb capital ships...1942:The Pacific Air war models all these things. Carrier landings are a risky task that requires practice (or extensive use of the auto-piloting feature). Japanese fighters will weave in and out of your formations, while American fighters will brazenly bust their way through in run'n'shoot maneuvers. The planes behave fairly accurately (granted my real flight experience is merely in a period trainer) and fuel and ammunition limitations are always on one's mind.

For their day, the graphics were pretty and, aside from being in an incredibly low resolution, are passable these days still. The planes have detailed (considering the resolution) skins, while the lesser used objects, like ground objects and ships are more simplified. More important, the graphics serve their purpose, although sometimes the blue painted fighters can be lost against the texture of the sea and the green fighters obscured by the green islands, but this is actually something pilots had to deal with the whole point of the color schemes to begin with.

The targeting padlock feature, popular since Falcon 3, is a much needed feature in WW2 simulators, where up close dogfights are common and you need to know what your opponent is doing long before he's in your sights. Though it may take sometime getting use to, the padlock in 1942:PAW serves its purpose well.

The Bad

Early versions had bugs galore with everything from stupid AI to unrealistic anti-aircraft fire. Later versions fix most of these issues.

Even with the patches, the AI is lacking in some categories. If you wish to permanently lose a pair of fighters on your tail, dive down and skim sea level (or fly through some valleys on the larger islands). Chances are that your enemies will never pull out, or insanely attempt a fatal vertical maneuver.

Stalls are a little more frequent than one should expect and cause spins nearly everytime. Although easy to get out of if you know the trick, these spins interrupt the game and happen a lot more than they should.

Until the add-on (and subsequent 'Gold' version), Microprose left out one of my favorite Pacific War Theatre aircraft: the USAF Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Not so much a dislike as a disappointment with the original version.

Not everyone will like the overly realistic issues. You need a steady hand, a good judge of alignment, and patience to score kills. Otherwise you'll just spray your very limited ammunition across the sky. Fortunately, players who don't want to deal with this realism can turn on options such as unlimited weaponry.

The Bottom Line

A pretty, fairly realistic mid-90's WW2 Flight-sim featuring the conflict between the Japanese and Americans over the Pacific Ocean. Dated graphics and sometimes over-realistic aspects might turn off some, but a fan of WW2 flight sims may want to check it out, especially if their only experience is with the European Theatre.