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P.T.O. - Pacific Theater of Operations IV
The campaign can be played as the Americans, British, Japanese, or Germans, starting either in September 1939 or December 1941. If a players chooses to be American or Japanese with a 1939 start date, they will sit on the sidelines and watch the war until December 1941, but they will still be able to gather resources and spend them to build units or develop technologies. Players can also concoct "what-if" scenarios by changing which countries belong to which powers: for example, one could play an Alliance of America and Germany against an Axis of Japan and Great Britain, or even play three-on-one for more of a challenge.
The world map used in the turn-based grand strategy side of the game is broken down into territories connected in a web of lines indicating where fleets may pass from territory to territory. Game turns on this scale represent one month, and the time it takes a fleet to move from one territory to another correlates loosely to the length of the line connecting them.
Players collect resources from the territories they control every turn. Resources include money, iron ore, aluminum, and oil. Money is used for construction of new units and facilities and to speed scientific development, iron is used in construction of ships, aluminum is used in construction of aircraft, and oil is consumed when fleets move.
Technological advances are not purchased; instead players direct their scientists to focus on particular developmental paths, and breakthroughs come semi-randomly. The longer the scientists have been working on a particular problem, the more likely a breakthrough becomes. Giving the scientists extra money accelerates this process. In addition to the ship and aircraft types that become available automatically with scientific advancements, players can design their own custom types using whatever technology is available to them at the time.
Players decide which types of ships and aircraft to build and how many. Ships are formed into fleets that can be moved about the world map while aircraft can be assigned to defend land-based airfields or assigned to fleets with ships capable of carrying aircraft.
When two hostile fleets meet in the same territory, or when a hostile fleet enters a territory defended by land-based aircraft, a battle ensues. Battles are controlled in real-time with a 3-D isometric view. Players control entire fleets, not individual ships. Orders include sending a fleet to a particular point, ordering a fleet to attack a particular other fleet or airfield, and launching and recovering aircraft for CAP or to attack a particular fleet or airfield.
Players can assign the computer to control as much or as little of strategy as desired. A player who enjoys the turn-based grand strategy but not the real-time battles can have the computer automatically resolve individual battles. Conversely, a player who enjoys the real time battles but not resource management can assign various aspects of resource management to the computer so that the player only has to decide where to move fleets. At the extreme, a player could even assign fleet movement to the computer and focus entirely on real-time combat. The game also offers a scenario mode that skips grand strategy entirely and throws the player into an individual battle.