I love it when developers take the complaints of reviewers and the requests of their fans and deliver a sequel that addresses every one. It looks like Eidos Hungary is prepared to do that with Battlestations: Pacific, the follow-up to last year’s Battlestations: Midway.
Battlestations manages to be both a real-time strategy game and an action/simulation experience. While you are in charge of commanding different task forces, it’s possible to take on the role of one of the troops and save the day. Pacific picks up right where Midway left off, but packs double the campaign of the previous game — one “historically-based” version, where things unfold as you would expect, and one “historically possible” version, where you play as the Japanese and kick America’s ass. Twenty-one new vehicles; cockpit views for the fighters, torpedo bombers, and dive bombers; Kamikaze attacks; and the new Island Capture system (as well as improved graphics, since they were developing strictly for 360 rather than worrying about the original Xbox) round out the new features.
The first mission we saw was the invasion of Port Moresby, which didn’t actually happen. In the real world, we beat the Japanese back at Coral Sea so they never got to Australia. Instead, in this mission, you’re playing as the Japanese and three initial goals are to take the radar station, take the airstrip (one of those islands to capture), and take out the Americans.
The command screen shows a color-coded birds-eye view of the action as it’s happening, but now includes extra data, like exactly how captured the radar station is (in percentage form) and the health of every unit on the screen. Another example of this more data push — which is something the fans have been requesting — is the way your cruiser weapons now have a time indicator while they transition from yellow reloading to green and at the ready.
You can go about your objectives as you like, but flexibility is key, since you can’t be sure how your AI-led units will fare. If you’re doing well, there is an assortment of random secondary tasks to complete to boost your high score, good for achievements and straight-up bragging rights.
Jon Zungre and I both took a turn on another level where shooting three targets proved more difficult than our non-flight sim trained thumbs were capable of handling — it’s definitely not an arcade-y experience. Mostly we just enjoyed watching details like the little guys running around on the decks of the boats or the convoys rolling across the island as you advance.
Battlestations: Pacific is set to ship in Q1 of 2009, and we’re betting fans of the original will be quite pleased.