Pacific Storm, review by herodotus

Points: 32653
SI Herodotus

"Great Naval Battles" finally re-surfaces with a healthy dose of "1942" thrown in.

The nay-sayers for this game/sim are probably not old enough to remember the glory days of naval and aircraft simulator/games of the early nineties, but I'm not. "Great Naval Battles", a series that was loved by players, and undermined by critics, has finally reared its' head above the dust and waters in this game. Specifically, "GNB 2" which centered on the naval battles and activities centred on Guadalcanal. "GNB 3" expanded to include operations in and around Guadalcanal including carriers. Sure, the ships were 2D digitized representations and you could only observe carrier operations (black sprites buzzing around the 2D ship) but they were so involving that hours would pass without notice. You became so involved in re-supplying the Marines and engaging Japanese supply columns and fleets that the poor graphics went by unnoticed. Then came Microprose's "1942" and its' sequel "1942:PAW" which both immersed you in the same campaign(s) but with beautiful graphics (the Battle of Savo Island at night with searchlights, tracer and firery explosions was a sight to behold) that held the player hooked. There were downsides (taking over a gun-station to fire at enemy ships was dodgy) but noone really complained. Dynamix had by then also entered the fray with "Aces of the Pacific" and the world was yours. So, to "PS". For me it has brought back those days of the "GNB" series and "1942". "AOP" would be better left in comparison with "Pacific Fighters" so I'll leave that there. What "PS" has done is re-kindle the fires of the previously mentioned games, expanded the AO to include the whole Pacific War and then thrown in a whopping dollup of "Hearts of Iron". Not content, they've added the arcade side to things by bringing in elements of "Blazing Angels". And they've done incredibly well. It was an ambitious notion to begin with and, according to most critics failed by doing so, but taken in context of past games it comes out gleaming. If you think the AI is dumb and useless, try "1942" where your US and Australian ships zigged and zagged all over the place seemingly oblivious the pounding they were getting. Thing is, that's what HAPPENED. Read any book on Iron Bottom Sound (the straits of Guadalcanal) and you'll be amazed at the naval carnage that occurred there. The Marianas Turkey Shoot, Okinawa, Sunda Straight...the list goes on. At the heart of the game (no pun intended) is "Hearts of Iron" and "Axis and Allies" to busy the player with the sheer magnitude of running this AO. It's deeply involving and not meant for a "quick-fix" session. They've included the Tactical engagements for that, and the Arcade elements are just a delicious cream on top. Sure it has bugs. All games do. Look at "Joint Task Force" which requires a whopping 200MB patch to make it playable from the get-go. Modders are already hard at work on this title and the Expansion Pack "PS:Allies" is said to fill in the gaps that critics have pointed out. The graphics are absolutely acceptable for a title of this magnitude, and don't even pretend to be Oleg Maddox. The intensity of a firefight between 2 opposing fleets is well portrayed and deeply engaging (pun intended). This is a game that will take effort and persistence to fully understand and implement. With the expansion coming to "fill in the blanks", I have high hopes for this title. And being half the price of most recent releases, I'd say you're getting a bargain. Just beware, this is not "Blazing Angels", so if you are looking for an easier game to master and play quickly look elsewhere. I thought the many hours I spent with the "GNB" series were just fond memories (not for my "computer- widow-wife", though). Now there is a new kid on the block. And this one is loaded for bear! REVIEW EDIT 7th March '07: This being the review of the Australian release, it has come to my attention, following months of misleading promises, that there will be NO patch1.3 for the Aust. version. There is simply no excuse for this blatant disrespect for the Publisher's Australian buyers. I will leave the score as is, but give the product an overall rating of 5/10 based on the product including an inexcusable lack of customer support. 'nuff said!
Posted on 07/11/2007 19:42
8.5 superb