Attack on Pearl Harbor Hands-On

This action-heavy combat game about World War II doesn't require any knowledge of flight or tactics.

While its title suggests that Attack on Pearl Harbor centers upon only those pivotal events in December of 1941, when the Japanese launched their infamous surprise attack on the United States, this upcoming action game actually covers the entire breadth of the Pacific War, all the way to 1945. And while Attack on Pearl Harbor may, upon first glance, look like a complex flight simulation, it's actually an action arcade game that anyone can pick up and play. We recently dived into the opening missions of Attack on Pearl Harbor for some hands-on impressions.

In addition to multiplayer support for 12, Attack on Pearl Harbor features four campaigns: two from the perspective of a US pilot and two from a Japanese pilot. There are about 50 missions throughout those campaigns, and what's interesting is instead of a straightforward and linear campaign structure, the campaigns have a branching structure that offers you different choices. For instance, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, you can, as a Japanese pilot, choose to move on to Wake Island or help with an attack on Darwin, Australia. This ensures that there are numerous different ways to play through each campaign. In most missions, you can also choose which aircraft to fly. There are eight flyable craft in the game, divided into fighters, dive bombers, and torpedo planes. These include the American Corsair and Dauntless, and the Japanese Zero and Val. Your performance in missions will unlock replacement craft, so if you're shot down and lose a Corsair, you might not have another one for the following mission, depending on how well you've been flying.

You'll rack up more kills than the Red Baron in Attack on Pearl Harbor.

The flight controls are pretty simple. You can use a joystick, but that's not necessary at all, as the mouse serves more than adequately as a flight controller. The default settings are inverted, like a flight stick, so to pull the nose of your aircraft up, you move the mouse downward; to dive, you push the mouse upward. (You can reverse the y-axis, if you want.) Banking left and right is as easy as moving the mouse laterally. Speed is handled with the W and S keys. The former makes you go a bit faster (though at the price of your plane shaking from all the stress) while the latter slows you down, which is what you want to do when you're right on the tail of a bogey and don't want to slam into it.

Weapons are handled with the mouse buttons; the left mouse button fires your guns while the right handles any special weapons, such as bombs or rockets. Each plane has unlimited ammunition (you don't have to worry about fuel, either), though guns will heat up if you fire them for too long, which means they'll have to cool down before they can be fired again. Bombs and rockets, on the other hand, need a few seconds to reload after you fire or release them.

Most missions feature multiple objectives, so first you may need to take out antiaircraft emplacements on the ground and then clear the skies of fighters, or perhaps you'll need to shoot down incoming bombers. The damage modeling is very forgiving, and your plane can absorb a lot of bullets before it even starts to smoke. However, it's not invulnerable, so you still have to fly smartly, especially since many missions will keep you in the air for a while. You don't need to know anything about flight tactics or maneuvering, though. In fact, you don't have to worry about basic flight physics. It's almost impossible to stall the aircraft, and you can pull off violent maneuvers that would snap a real plane in two. The only thing you really have to worry about is not slamming into the ground, which is a danger when you're chasing down an enemy fighter at treetop level.

The game is packed with Hollywood-style dogfighting. Realistic physics are nowhere in sight.

Put it all together, and the action in the game is very fast paced, with very few lulls. In many ways, Attack on Pearl Harbor is similar to Crimson Skies, the popular arcade flight combat game from Microsoft. Of course, Attack on Pearl Harbor has the benefit of the latest graphics hardware. This isn't a state-of-the-art or demanding game, but it still looks pretty good. More importantly, it plays very smoothly, even when there are a dozen fighters on the screen and explosions everywhere. Attack on Pearl Harbor may not appeal to fans of realistic flight simulations, as it has the action and realism of a Hollywood movie, but that's the entire point. This game is being aimed at those who have never picked up a joystick in their life. Attack on Pearl Harbor is almost finished and it will ship next month.

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28 comments
Sunrie
Sunrie

Very interesting...soundsl ike a good mix between arcade and sim

M_Kroll
M_Kroll

69Sean - I play the game regularly with a joystick and quite enjoy it. In fact, more so than with either the mouse and keyboard (which actually allows more extreme maneuvers in the current version), or the Xbox 360 controller. Fodo_gsr - Sort of. I'm the mouthpiece for the North American publisher of the game, CDV, so I'm obviously biased. But, I'm also a jaded gamer with more than twenty years of gaming under my belt and ten of those writing reviews, so I'm not that easily swayed. I really find AOPH to be a fun game that I've been playing almost nightly and I can't say that about every or even the majority games I've been involved in publishing. The demo will release on Friday morning and while it's unfortunately only a limited single player version, I recommend you pick it up and see if you like it and then make your purchase decision, rather than based on some screen shots and others' opinions (I always recommend that approach -- no one else can decide for you what games you'll end up enjoying). But do keep an open mind. Catch you in the virtual skies!

bizkit_limp
bizkit_limp

waste of time dudes, dont even look at this games, same **** !

smakota
smakota

to me game looks good

smakota
smakota

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

69sean
69sean

What if you actually know how to use a joystick? Does the game offer anything at all for an experienced sim pilot? Crimson Skies wasn't realistic at all but it was fun to play with a joystick. If it has some of that flavor it might be fun. I honestly can't imagine anyone trying to fly without a joystick or drive without a steering wheel though .

midn8t
midn8t

theres been tons of these action flight games, id like them re creat red baron way it orginal was.

knut-am
knut-am

i will not buy the game myselfe i think, im a bit to mutch a sim addict. i do however fancy the idea of a shoot'em'up game with planes as an adission to more fps kind of games. whhat would make me buy this game would be the abillity to play huge air battles online with hundreds of planes in the air, if not enough players, the ability to add computer controlled wingmen or squadrons. but not 4x4 or 8x8, thats too limited.

fodo_gsr
fodo_gsr

M_Kroll, are you part of the beta test? I am very pleased to hear that this game is fun (especially MP). I can only hope for a decent multiplayer fanbase. I think Heroes of the Pacific and Blazing Angels were (and still are) great games (if you can play it correctly with a gamepad/JS), but there has been no multiplayer opponents to fight against online...but this is probably due to the buggy nature of BA and HotP is kind of old now. I will most likely buy this, and hope to shoot ya'll down online. ;)

M_Kroll
M_Kroll

This title is a casual action-oriented game, not a flight sim. No one's shying away from that. We played a 4 vs. 4 multi-player session this past week and played for about 8 hours straight, it was so much fun. Don't knock this affordably priced title before you tried it, please -- I think you'd miss out on a very enjoyable title that runs on average (but also above average) systems and plays great with the Xbox 360 controller, a joystick and also a mouse (with very little keyboard usage).

fodo_gsr
fodo_gsr

Well, it's not being developed or published by Ubisoft, so there is always a chance that it will actually be playable and could actually support some controllers and joysticks out of the box...even after the patches Blazing Angels on PC has very buggy/nonfunctional gamepad/joystick support. Luckily my controller is one of the few that actually works with that game.

fodo_gsr
fodo_gsr

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

themc_7
themc_7

meh, there's unrealistic and then there's that.

narcisse2121
narcisse2121

This looks like exactly the type of arcade-ish flight game I love, but is it going to support my saitek x-52? After getting burned by Blazing Angels I won't buy first without certainty.

Drolith
Drolith

This game is for a specific group...those who don't like or can't handle WW2 combat sims. Not saying thats a bad thing, It just has its own flavor. This is like the quake of WW2 combat sims. I might give it a look but my squad in IL 1946 wont even think about touching a game like this...sad :P.

BlueDemon3
BlueDemon3

wow they kinda tore this game apart...

jjfz
jjfz

This game appeals to me. It seems really fun. I've played realistic games flight sims before, like Il2: Sturmovik, but they aren't extremely fun. So this will be great. I mean the greatest German ace, Erich Hartmann got 352 confirmed kills in WWII, that may sound great, but it's really on average only one kill every three to four missions. And he had a few hundred sorties that resulted in absolutely no engagements. Although I'm a proponent of realism, it's still fun sometimes to take a break from reality and just have fun.

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

looks pretty good. i dont mind the bad graphics. if it runs well and plays good ill buy

DontEatCream
DontEatCream

This game REALLY reminds me of Heroes of the Pacific.

ATLHydro
ATLHydro

"Attack on Pearl Harbor may not appeal to fans of realistic flight simulations, as it has the action and realism of a Hollywood movie, but that's the entire point. This game is being aimed at those who have never picked up a joystick in their life." that sums up the fact that it was not designed to be a flight sime, does anybody actually read the articles?

fodo_gsr
fodo_gsr

Your cockpit views and your realism are to be found in one of the many flight simulators already released on PC. Why is that, every time a developer tries something different, something that might actually be fun, all the fanboys (in this case, simulation fanboys) have to trash it. Obviously this game is not a sim, so get over it already...it concentrates on action and fun, not the miniscule details that are in a true sim, as these things turn away the more casual gamer. There are PLENTY of simulations on the PC, and IMO, not enough [good] FUN flight ACTION games (a la Blazing Angels). If I want slow, somewhat boring, and realistic, I'll play a sim. Obviously if I want fun and action at the expense of realism, I will play this (or Blazing Angels, or Heroes of the Pacific, etc.)

lionel_k
lionel_k

Yeah! Where is the cockpit view???

ashyankee
ashyankee

good try to hook up gamers man. this game i think will have flight controls like gta san andreas

ashyankee
ashyankee

good try to hook up gamers man. this game i think will have flight controls like gta san andreas

monkeytoes61
monkeytoes61

Being a history loser, this is obviously not for me. in pearl harbor, only 2 pilots made it in the air. I bet there are going to be 4 or 5 American fighters in the air. That pisses me off.

Eagle5648
Eagle5648

I have always enjoyed Air Combat but i would prefer to take part in the first person which adds more realism.

serbogen
serbogen

Why would you wanna play in this jagoffosoures third person view? That's crap's for consol kiddies. Give me a damn in cockpit closer to simulation experience.