Battlestations: Pacific gives you two completely different campaigns to play through, perhaps in an attempt to appease the people angry with the first game's sort single-player mode. You can play as either the American forces or as the Japanese. Both campaigns are based on the real battles that took place during World War II, even if they don't play out exactly like they did in real life. For the most part these battles are just excuses to blow up the enemies, but there are a few specific events that everybody will immediately recognize. For example, early in the Japanese campaign you are told to bomb Pearl Harbor. From a gameplay standpoint this mission is a lot of fun, but it lacks the emotional punch that you associate with this tragic event in this nation's history.
When the game is at its best it has you right in the middle of a full-scale battle. These are the missions that require you to set courses, plan ahead and, most importantly, switch between all of the vehicles on the map. And that's not all you'll have to do, you will also be charged with buying new airplanes, repairing your boats, lining up shots with your submarines and pushing the Japanese back as far as you can. These are the battles that seem to go on forever, and when they're done you wish they would keep going. These are the missions that test your mettle, forcing you to remember everything you learned up until this point. These are the missions that make Battlestations: Pacific so exciting, and you'll be talking about them for weeks to come. I'm not saying the rest of the game isn't interesting, but they pail in comparison to these large-scale battles.
The problem is, not every mission can be an edge-of-your-seat action-filled contest. Some missions are rather boring, having you sit around and wait for something or shell other vehicles from miles away. Though the truly boring missions are few and far between, they are still there nonetheless. Other missions start out fun, but ultimately go on for too long. The joy of this game is the variety, so being forced to dogfight for twenty minutes can wear down your patience. But that's fine, for every boring mission there are at least three that will remind you why you love war games in the first place.
There are a few other problems you have to deal with, too. One of the biggest seems to be the atrocious voice acting. Over the last thirty years I've heard my fair share of crummy voice acting, but it never ceases to take me right out of the experience. The acting is at its worst when you fire up the Japanese campaign. The potentially offensive Japanese accents and dialog was enough to make me cringe, and it doesn't seem to get any better as you go through. The Americans may not be as bad, but that's certainly not saying anything. Much of the speech is delivered with little to no emotion and a general disinterest in the situation. You're in the middle of a gigantic warzone with your fellow soldiers getting shot down, how can you be this disaffected?
Thankfully these are only minor gripes. I immediately forgot about them once I went online and took part in this game's remarkable multiplayer modes. From what I hear of the original, Battlestations: Midway failed to deliver the strong online gameplay that many World War II junkies were hoping for. That's not the case with Battlestations: Pacific. This game's multiplayer modes are on par, if not better than the single player campaign. Not only are there a bunch of unique modes exclusive to this game, but all of them will suck you in for hours at a time. These are not your standard set of World War II online activities; they are fully realized missions that take everything that was great about the offline game and gives you real people to take down.
The online games are varied and always fun, not something you can say about every World War II action game. Some modes will have you trying to protect other crafts from enemy fire, while in another mode you in another mode it's an all-out dogfight. Perhaps the most intriguing mode is Island Capture, which involves you attempt to capture an island with bases on them. The object for both sides is to capture neutral and enemy bases, receiving victory points as you control the bases. What impressed me was how different these modes were each time I played them. Even with the same people, I found that each match felt fresh and new every time I played it. Throw in some cooperative gameplay and you have one of the best multiplayer games of the year.
It didn't take long for Battlestations: Pacific to win me over. While there are a few things I would have changed along the way, there's certainly enough here to warrant the game's price tag. With solid graphics and a fair amount of variety in each mission, you'll be at Battlestations: Pacific for some time to come. Considering how good this game turned out, I can't wait to see what the team can come up with next.
I didn't expect to like Battlestations: Pacific, but it only took a few missions for me to fall head over heels for this little strategy game. With great online play and two satisfying missions, Battlestations: Pacific proves to be one of the best games of its type on the Xbox 360.
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