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SummaryThe story of WWII according to Uncle Sam ...
The GoodAlthough the title hints at the Pacific, this is really the story of US involvement in the second World War. It starts with Pearl Harbour and goes most of the rest of the way. They seem to have done their research and they make good use of historical resources. The cutscenes feature historical accuracy while advancing the storyline, plus they make good use of historical footage which adds nicely to the campaign.
It has a nice arcade feel to it, which they have extended to the comic-book style of the game. Everything is instant action, so there is almost no tedious flying to and from the target area. They rack up the difficulty nicely too, so things start out slowly and gradually get harder as the story advances. While the missions are scripted, they do a nice job of surprising you with changing situational objectives due to circumstances, so the missions feel surprisingly random when you fly them.
The graphics are great, although there is not much time to appreciate them due to the swirling action that you will very quickly become enveloped in. While you are expecting trouble on the approach, this sim quickly teaches you to also expect plot twists on the exit as well. If you are interested in watching yourself fly (which is fun - especially with wingmen) there are replay options and camera angle options as well. Once you have flown a mission (successfully or not) you can replay the whole thing to watch it and evaluate your performance.
The dive-bombing and torpedo-aiming missions are particularly well-implemented. These are done in such a way that they provide a nice degree of difficulty without skimping on the real-life details. Unfortunately the same level of detail has not been applied to the armaments, but this means that you will never run out of ammunition which is probably a good thing for an arcade-style simulation. They have really done a nice job of implementing the controls for dive-bombing and torpedo-dropping. As usual, you will probably want to re-configure the controls to match your personal preferences, but at least they make this option available. While I particularly like the Force feedback (or rumble) effects in this game, they are also configurable for those who don't care for them [I liked the XBox 360 gamepad for this title; as seems to be common for this controller, you will have to install the open-source XBCD driver to enable the option of Force feedback with this title - which is not something for which you can blame the game developers]. The Force feedback configuration only extends to the strength of the effects themselves; they are very useful for detecting that you are taking hits or about to stall but you can adjust their strength to your personal preferences.
They have a slew of configuration options for those who find the game too easy or too hard, or who just want historical accuracy (or not). One really nice feature is that any of these can be changed at any time within a campaign - without having to re-fly the entire campaign. And once you have completed a mission, you can re-fly it again at any time - at any level of difficulty as well. Bonuses include historical single missions as well as unlockable aircraft - you can re-fly these missions with any of the unlocked aircraft for an additional challenge. Upgrade points can be used to add firepower or armour to any of your unlocked aircraft (which will be needed in order to complete certain missions).
As if all this wasn't enough, you can also direct your AI squad-mates to a limited extent, which can be very helpful (if you remember this option in the heat of battle). You will need to master this eventually, as some objectives only seem to be possible with good squad management.
The voice acting is pretty good, although they have not really made much of an effort to flesh out the non-English speakers - who generally don't have a great deal to say.
The BadAll conflicts have two sides, and it would have been nice to see both (director Clint Eastwood deserves credit for this with his recent war films). This title only has an American campaign, although Japanese planes do become available as unlockables. There is no real attempt made to give the enemy any substance, although that seems to be fairly standard for arcade-style games. In a like vein, there are frequent uses of terms that are historically accurate but considered offensive by modern standards. However, the game pretty much manages to avoid the N-word (either of them) instead opting for a term that - while considered offensive - is really just an abbreviation.
It would have been nice to have been able to save after a mission sub-objective was completed. Instead you have to re-fly the entire mission which can get pretty annoying as you have to re-do all of the preliminary sub-missions. A minor gripe, but you can really start to notice this when you have been re-flying the same mission for a while.
The controls can be extremely hard to get used to; they do provide tutorial missions to get you over this (and I ended up flying some of them over and over again). On the plus side, once you get the knack of the controls, these types of missions become lots of fun (or at least rewarding rather than challenging).
This is only an arcade-style simulation; if you were looking for hugely realistic flying that required a twenty pound manual you will be disappointed. On the other hand, if you have tried that flight sim with the thick manual and found that you needed to improve your skills... well then, this sim is a good place to start. It has most of the same features that you will see on other, more realistic, flight simulations. But this one doesn't feature the same punishing level of difficulty (and is possibly a lot more fun).