E3 06: Pacific Storm Impressions

CDV's strategic three-in-one combines all the elements of a sea-based tactical game with some exciting action, too.


LOS ANGELES--Pacific Storm is a new sea-based World War II strategy game that attempts to combine three different gameplay experiences under a single banner. Depicting the naval conflict between the US and Japan, the game features a strategic overview map and a real-time battle map, and it lets you jump into an airplane or ship turret and get involved in the action directly.

It's a tall order to put all three elements into a single game and get them to gel together, so CDV could be forgiven for toning down some of the in-game details a little to make room. However, upon seeing some of the overview screens, which let you take control of an amazing amount of information (including the option of assigning the individual pilots to carrier groups), it's clear that no such scrimping has taken place.

If anything, it's more likely that most players will opt out of the micromanagement and focus their attention on getting their hands dirty in combat. The main thrust of the overview map, which is split into regions, is to move your ships and engage in battle with the enemy. When you do that, the action zooms in, and you're task from then on is to guide your units as you would in any other RTS. These two gameplay modes seem to fit together quite well, but it's become a tried and trusted method within the genre, so no major surprises so far.

In the battle we saw, a couple of US destroyers took on a pair of Japanese ships, with all the action taking place at long range. This is where one of the possible problems with the game was highlighted--the nature of sea battles makes it inherently difficult to get an overview of what's happening and where, whilst also getting a nice look at the ships themselves. So the development team has tried to get around this by making it possible for the player to jump right into any plane or ship turret and have a bit of fun.

Although the ship-turret elements look a little dull, the prospect of flying missions from a carrier, bombing and strafing the enemy ships, dogfighting all the while, is pretty exciting. We didn't get to see any actual combat in this mode, but there was a nice demo of how the planes will fly, as well as the nice range of camera views on offer. The actual flight model is quite basic, but what that means is that you won't need to spend any time learning to fly, and the main directional controls are all taken care of with the mouse.

Visually, the graphics within the game aren't bleeding edge, but they certainly do a decent job. It's clear that players should have plenty to keep them occupied, depending on how in-depth they want to go, and if you find normal strategy games are a little on the dull side, the option to get in on some serious action might make Pacific Storm far more appealing. It's only slated for a North America release at this point.

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