Heroes of the Pacific Review (PC)

There are no tiny packets of peanuts, your seat belt is unlikely to be fastened, and a crash is imminent when you load up Heroes of the Pacific, an arcade flight simulator game that draws on the terrible tragedies of WW2 to to entertain a new generation of gamers who can barely remember who was on what side or even why they were fighting to begin with.

Pick your poison War is awesome! While it's only on your screen...

The game does us all a favor and teaches a little history lesson. Turns out there was rather alot of fighting going on in the pacific theater during World War II, when the japanese decided to bring America into the war with a sneaky sort of attack on Pearl Harbor. Don't be mislead by the term ‘theater’, this has absolutely nothing to do with nansy pansy make believe drama. No, it is bloody down and dirty make believe drama and there is carnage for all.  

Your role in all of this is to take the controls of a plane and try and kill some people, referred to copiously as “Japs”. You've apparently been courageous and or stupid enough to sign up to be a navy pilot and the fun and games begin when japan launches their infamous attack. You're having plenty of fun killing people when you hear the news that your brother was killed aboard the USS Arizona which had been in Pearl Harbor. This gives you good reason to rush off like a high flying chicken on crack and take lots and lots of missions all designed to gain vengeance for the affront to America, and to get your own back on the side too.

This is a rather interesting game historically speaking, with footage from W.W.II cutting in between missions, some of which follow simulations of some of the actual battles in the pacific theater. The missions themselves are fairly varied and include the occasional ‘surprise’ objective or sneak battle, thereby making them just that tad bit more interesting.  

Except on the bad days Destruction is pretty!

Ubisoft have done us all a favor and made the game system pretty easy to control which means that you won't be struggling just to keep the dammed plane up in the air. This will no doubt annoy purists, who will then be happy to discover ‘professional’ controls which enable you to control the pitch and yaw and whatnot of the plane. Having said that, if you want a high level realistic flight simulator you should be looking elsewhere. This game simply seeks to be alot of particularly morbid fun, not to be a substitute for an actual plane.

There's variety in the machines too, and you get to fly a range of interesting planes. There are your fast little dog fighters, as well as bombers (of various kinds) and torpedo planes. Later in the game, once you've proved your worth you get to fly experimental aircraft that do interesting and exciting things, so it's worth hanging on for those babies. You'll earn points as you play which you can use to upgrade your current plane, or save up to upgrade later ones.  The choice is yours, but being prudent with your points is not such a bad thing.

 Different missions call for different kinds of skill so you do get to engage in a range of lethal activities, which is nice. If you're finding things too easy you also have the choice of four different difficulty levels, so there's no excuse for just cruising through the entire thing in one afternoon. Once you've finished the main campaign mode, or if you just feel like something a little different, you can look at some of the other options available to you. There are unlockable missions that are closely tied to historical fact, and straight out battle mode if you don't require a justification for carnage. There are online multiplayer games available also, some are single and some are team games. There aren't so many people playing this game online as yet, but if you really fall in love with it then you can blackmail up to seven friends to play with you.

More Destruction! Find new things to destroy!

Heroes of the Pacific is a pretty decent looking game with some nice graphics and animation. The planes are very well designed and rendered, which is important for such a historically based game, and the environments are distinctly playable.

The audio is very decent also, you hear everything bar the terrible screams as pilots plummet out of the sky, burning along with the wreckage of their fuselage until they meet their dooms in an unforgiving sea. Battle sounds like gun fire and voice communications make themselves evident at appropriate moments, so not much to complain about there.

All in all, this is a very solid game. It doesn't do anything particularly revolutionary, but it will give you something else to play if you feel like a generic alternative to your flight simulator library, or perhaps if you feel like a bit of an interactive history lesson.

Well done chaps.

Top Game Moment: Counting the number of times the term “Japs” was used in a 15 minute period and loosing count. They weren't terribly culturally sensitive or politically correct in the 30’s and 40’s apparently.