The History Channel's logo is printed on Battle for the Pacific's box, which may lead you to believe that the game features a certain amount of historical accuracy. It's apparently an undocumented fact, then, that if you were a World War II private, you would be accompanied on missions by soldiers completely impervious to gunfire. These soldiers would run directly up to enemies, perform pirouettes, and then kill them at point-blank range, which certainly sounds like a reasonable way to win a war. On the other hand, Battle for the Pacific, barring any secret Army documents, may simply be an abysmal game that features terrible mission design, broken artificial intelligence, and substandard controls. Because this is indeed the case, don't even think about buying this game--not even to experience the bizarre alternate reality of World War II that this first-person shooter represents.
There's no actual story here--just a series of stand-alone missions tied together by a selection of dry, lifeless voice-overs that sleepily recount the events leading to the victory at Iwo Jima. In a typical mission, you follow a fellow soldier or six down a narrow jungle path or through a narrow bunker. Along the way, you'll encounter Japanese soldiers, who employ the advanced fighting technique of standing in one place and shooting until they die. You can shoot them back, of course, though the easiest way to handle them is to stay back and let your comrades, who are totally invulnerable to enemy fire, take care of them for you. It's not a perfect solution: Should you stray too far from your commanding officer, the mission will suddenly end. Furthermore, the mission leader will occasionally stop in one place, as if he forgot where to go next; thus, you'll need to run around for a bit until the AI catches up and sends the soldier running in the right direction.
Once in a while, you will need to use your weapons, though it's clear from the very first minute of Battle for the Pacific that just the standard act of turning wasn't even implemented properly. Looking around with the right thumbstick is incredibly laborious because your turning speed is insanely slow, and a nudge that would turn the camera in any other shooter has barely any effect in this one. As a result, you'll find that it's easier to aim by strafing and standard movement than it is to actually turn toward your enemy. Once your crosshairs land on your target, shooting at him may or may not take him down, even if the reticle is squarely pointed at his head. On the other hand, aiming an inch to the side will often result in a one-shot kill. That isn't to say that there is anything difficult about Battle for the Pacific: Even if you take your enemies head-on in the hardest difficulty level, you'll make it out entirely unscathed because your health completely replenishes completely over the course of just a few seconds.
There are some attempts to mix things up. You'll occasionally man a few turrets and defuse some mines, but these aspects don't work properly either. In order to man a mounted machine gun, you need to target and press Y, yet you have to position yourself in a small, over-exact spot for this to work. So you will spend 10 seconds or more shuffling around until you're able to take control of the weapon, and you'll encounter the same problem trying to target the mines. You'll also get in an antiaircraft turret a few times to ostensibly destroy aircraft--at least according to the mission objective--yet you can't shoot any of them down, which completely negates the purpose of the objective in the first place. You'll be left wondering what the point of it even was--like most of the game.
You'll blow through the campaign in two hours or less. If you are lucky enough to find someone online to play with, you can always try the multiplayer options (deathmatch, team deathmatch, capture the flag, elimination, and team elimination modes are represented) to squeeze some value out of it. The most players online we found at any given time was seven, so while there could be the potential for the intense multiplayer action promised on the box, we may never know. In the matches we did play, the control and hit detection issues were still very much present, which is enough to indicate that online matches aren't any more satisfying than the campaign proper.
Amid all the appalling gameplay, there are some less appalling features, such as some occasionally decent visuals, though even here, there are major problems. The frame rate is erratic while the screen shaking that occurs during mortar attacks is so intense and frequent that it may make you feel nauseous. The sound effects are all right, though the repeated reminders from your commanding officer to keep up and not get lost may inspire you to stick in some ear plugs. This may also keep you from noticing how the music cuts in and out for no particular reason.
Can you believe this two-hour-long heap costs $50? With gameplay this bad and little value to speak of, this is a history lesson that should stay buried in the past.