War in the Pacific
Release Date: June 22, 2004
In so far as combat, outcomes are generally very realistic in the skies and in the seas. Ships do not often sink in five minutes. You will often take weeks of game time until intelligence finally discovers if that crippled cruiser got away. Fog of war may have your enemy thinking he put five bombs into the Yorktown while it took but one hit. Ten five hundred pound general purpose bombs will not much harm a Yamato class battle ship, even though your bombers will come back and tell you they plastered it. I actually found it quite entertaining to see the weapons and realities so realistically portrayed. Wonder why everyone was so scared of the Yamato? Well try to stop a battleship of its armor and size with anything short of a perfect wolfpack ambush or a hundred plane carrier alpha strike and see what you can do to it.
Land combat is adequately represented, but is the least satisfying of the three types. It is abstractly represented and while detailed enough to do its job, at times you will wonder precisely how that overland movement speed or combat result was calculated. This being said, since there was very little overland maneuver combat in this part of the war, and since small island and siege type fighting works well, it doesn’t derail the experience.
One of the most outstanding things about this game is that seemingly very small factors can dramatically change outcomes in battles. Send high experience Japanese pilots up in their shockingly maneuverable Zeros against relatively obsolete American planes in the early game and the Allies will be wiped out, all things being equal. Send those same unstoppable Zeros against the same Allied planes after forcing the Zeros to fly at maximum possible extended range after two non-stop fatigue-building weeks of flying long range Combat Air Patrol because your trying to do everything at once while the Americans fly over their own airfield for the first time in three days, and a few survivors might make it back to collect sake rations. Again this is the kind of thing that will sicken a casual player and send a serious war gamer into paroxysms of delight.
Similar issues exist in a strategic sense. You can change history, but not flip it on its head. Japanese troops will not end up fighting street to street across the Hollywood hills. The fighting in the early months is severely lopsided, as the inexperienced and generally poorly equipped forces of the Allied player can do little better than a stinging fighting retreat to buy time against locally superior Japanese units. Alternately, towards the “end” of the game, Japan has little hope of winning in an outright sense. They may win the game via its point structure (essentially outperforming the historical performance of the real Japanese forces) but they cannot realistically hope to win the war by say sinking all of America’s fleet or sweeping the skies free of its planes.
One last point. If your interests extend to seeing what you could as overall commander of either side, given an essentially realistic set of limitations and capabilities including your own self-imposed rules, you will love this game. If your interests lay in playing a game to win, via whatever possible route presents itself, you will not like this game and will tire of it in days. This is a simulation that almost (for better or worse) seems to have been built presupposing that its players were interested only in historically plausible actions with the context of the military, political and economic realities of that time.
Some examples; by abusing the rules the Japanese have to represent their initial surprise conditions at the outset of the war, the IJN can mount devastating assaults far deeper into allied territory than would have be dared by the most audacious Japanese commander. Using such “gamey” tactics I have seen Japanese torpedo-bombers intercepting allied shipping on December 10th, 1941 from bases in the Dutch East Indies within fighter range of northern Australia. Or having every Allied unit in the Pacific up and leaving for Australia literally the morning of December 8th 1941 because they “know” that Japan can’t be stopped until their reinforcements arrive. Not a fighting retreat mind you, but a hell for leather evacuation starting before the local troops might have even found out about the attack.
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