Though very rough around the edges, Pacific Assault is a thrilling experience that shouldn't be missed.
Pacific Assault stands out for taking the WWII focus away from Europe, and on to the Pacific, or more specifically, Japan. Though the game features several different settings such as a beach landing reminiscent of Normandy, a crazy airstrip assault, a flying section, and a recreation of the Pearl Harbor attack, the vast majority of the game takes place in jungle settings, interrupted by continuous assaults on local villages. While these sections feature some intense and entertaining action, they can get very repetitive, not just because they all look awfully identical, but because it's the same rinse and repeat formula over and over again. More variety during the middle chapters would've been very welcome. This is greatly highlighted by the way the game really picks up in the final chapters, were there's more variety in between levels.
Another area were Pacific Assault could've used more tuning is in the difficulty. While the game overall isn't exceptionally hard, there are a few sections that will really beat the daylights out of you. Perhaps the biggest problem with these parts is that the game doesn't do a good job at telling what you're doing wrong. For instance, one section during the Henderson airstrip assault has you gunning down Japanese bombers attempting to take out your hangars. While naturally one would be inclined to shoot any plane in sight, there's a very specific group of bombers that are the ones you have to take out since they're the only ones who actually pose a threat. Fail to take down those specific bombers and your hangars get destroyed and it's game over for you. Considering I spent well over 20 minutes in a section that could've been done in a minute or two, it would've been really helpful if one of my squad mates had given me a little heads up about what exactly had to be done. It's moments of frustration like this one (and several others, such as the Flyboys mission, which is hampered by poor controls) that can make the game come crashing to a halt.
Fortunately, the action and narrative are exciting and compelling enough to motivate you to drag yourself through those sections. The core gameplay is excellent, though it has a few issues, which are more noticeable during the early stages. Chief among these issues is the fact that for the first third of the game you're given nothing but craptacular weapons. SMGs with short clips and rifles with atrocious reloading are the main culprits for you dying a lot in the first chapters. It's also worth noting that your enemies can take a bit too much damage. On many occasions I found myself scoring a hit from just a few feet away and yet they were still able to charge at me in a frenzy. However once you get a hold of better weapons, mowing down your enemies becomes much easier and a hell of a lot more satisfying. Particularly impressive is the inclusion of a shotgun in the game. As far as I'm concerned, I'd never seen a WWII game with a shotgun, and just like in most games, there ain't nothing like a boomstick.
One really unique feature of Pacific Assault is the healing system. If you find more than 5 health packs in this game, consider yourself lucky. Instead of using healthpacks, you heal your wounds by relying on your fellow corpsman, who you can call with the touch a button a certain amount of times (the number varies with the difficulty you choose) per level to fully heal you up. While this system has its issues, it's a very nice change of pace. The main problem obviously is that if you induce too much damage early on, you'll probably use up all of your corpsman kits way before the level is over, forcing to play the rest of the level on your tiptoes. On the other side, while not entirely realistic, this system certainly adds to the immersion. Having to actually pull out of the action while you're getting healed up, forces you to think when and where to call up your corpsman (who will remain vulnerable while healing you). Also, the game features a very nifty death sequence, where you'll never instantly die but rather get knocked down, while your vision and hearing gets very distorted. Should your corpsman reach you in time, you'll get revived, but there's always a chance some *** will deliver a killing blow while you're writhing in pain. This verge of death moments are very well done.
The campaign in Pacific Assault features plenty of memorable moments and is told with a lot of style. Unlike in other war games, your squad (at least the core members) will remain the same all the way through to the end. While none of them stand out in particular, there's a legitimate sense of bonding between Tommy (the soldier you're playing as) and his squad mates. This is partly due to Tommy's narration prior to every mission, where he acknolewdges his mates as well as recollect prior events. One particularly memorable section takes place in the Flyboys chapter, where your actions will determine whether one of your buddies lives or dies. This is actually one of many "Hero Moments", which are optional objectives that are rewarded by the game with medals and the ability to "relive" those moments. The completion of these objectives has a direct impact on the story, such as the example previously mentioned. While it may not sound like much, it's the kind of thing that really makes you feel much more involved in the game.
The presentation of the game is top notch. Similar to Allied Assault, the game's menu isn't your conventional static menu, but rather a scene depicting a makeshift campament, where contemporary radio (contemporary to WWII that is) plays in the background, consisting of war news (typically related to the section you're in), commercials, special reports, and music. Not only does the radio sound totally legit, it actually makes navigating through the menus a whole lot of fun. The game's slick presentation carries on with the visuals and sound. While the visuals were never cutting edge, they feature plenty of detail, rendering believable environments, regardless of the setting. The sound is handled even better. The Japanese soldiers actually speak Japanese (and sound menacing while doing so), while weapons, explosions, and all other effects sound like the real deal. In sections like the Tarawa landing, it all adds up to sensorial bliss.
In the end, Pacific Assault manages to overcome its flaws and deliver another memorable WWII outing. The Pacific theater adds variety, while the core gameplay retains most of the magic from Allied Assault. While not as polished as Allied Assault, Medal of Honor Pacific Assault is a thrilling experience that shouldn't be missed.