History Channel: Battle for the Pacific Review

Dreadful graphics and worse controls make this a battle to avoid.

Unlike the Xbox 360 version of the game, the Wii version of Battle for the Pacific showed a lot of promise. Rather than following around a brain-dead soldier on a series of stand-alone missions, you actually play out a real story in some interesting jungle environments. The problem with Battle for the Pacific isn't in the design, though, but in the execution. Terrible controls, dumb artificial intelligence, and god-awful visuals get in the way of the game's potential, and keep this war from being one worth fighting.

Green is the new black.
Green is the new black.

There's a little bit of narrative here to tie things together. As Jonathan Farrell, you'll fight Japanese soldiers across 12 missions, most of which take place in jungle environments. Scrolling text and a competent voice-over fill you in on your objectives, and occasionally, a yawn-inducing History Channel segment will pop up to give you some historical perspective on the proceedings. None of it's very good--there are weird grammatical errors in the script, for example, which makes you wonder if the actor playing Farrell ever thought to mention anything--but it glues things together enough to keep you playing through the three-hour campaign.

The first thing you'll notice about Battle for the Pacific is that it's incredibly ugly. The game drowns you in a mess of muddy greens and browns, and textures are so blurry and unsightly that it's hard to make out anything from a distance. And for some reason, the game performs horribly, with the frame rate dipping noticeably when there is dense foliage on the screen. When things cut away for an in-engine cutscene, the whole thing becomes a nausea-inducing slideshow. There's also a thin, permanent tear that separates the left side from the right side of the screen. Additionally, like in the 360 version, there is an effect that blurs your view when you reload your weapon, though in this case, it obscures things to the point that you can make out absolutely nothing in the distance. All of this gets in the way of the gameplay, since you'll often be under attack by enemies that you simply can't see.

Yet somehow, even if you can't see them at all, your enemies can spot you from a mile away. The cheating AI is possibly the most frustrating aspect of Battle for the Pacific, because even when you can't see your pixelated enemies at all through the jungle flora, they can spot you through rocks and buildings, and their magic bullets seem to hit their target every time. In fact, AI soldiers are so talented, their guns will continue to shoot at you even when they are doubled over in pain, or after you have killed them and they are falling to the ground.

You can shoot back, obviously, though doing so is a pain, thanks to the terrible, noncustomizable controls. Like other shooters on the Wii, you use the remote both to turn and to aim the targeting reticle. Yet the scheme lacks sensitivity and precision, so the centering your crosshairs on your target isn't always as simple as it should be. Looking down your sights makes things even worse, because it's literally impossible to use the imprecise motion controls to aim directly at your enemy. As a result, you'll be taking down many of your nigh-invisible foes with the age-old technique of simply shooting when your crosshairs turn red. Thankfully, aside from their X-ray vision, enemy soldiers can be pretty moronic, often not reacting to being shot or running up to you to perform a melee attack for no apparent reason.

You can't always see your enemies...but they can always see you.
You can't always see your enemies...but they can always see you.

It's too bad that all these problems are so blatant, because there are moments when you realize that had it been executed better, Battle for the Pacific could have been a decent game. You'll take down camouflaged soldiers hiding in trees, find alternate routes and secret ammo stashes, and hear your foes shout in Japanese. The missions are linear, to be sure, but there's enough freedom of movement to take cover behind rocks, flank your foes, or hide in buildings and take potshots through windows. There are even instances where the music and sound effects can get your blood pumping a bit. Standard stuff, to be sure, but there are brief moments of entertainment amid the ugliness.

There are no multiplayer options, so unless you want to go back and gun for faster mission completion, find more hidden objectives, or earn better shooting accuracy, you're done when the end credits roll. It's too bad that all these major issues had to get in the way, because it could have been an interesting way of brushing up on your World War II history. In reality, however, you'd be better off taking night classes and leaving this history lesson buried in the bargain bin.

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    The Good
    Occasionally entertaining firefights
    The Bad
    Hideous, blurry visuals that make it hard to see your enemies
    The AI blatantly cheats
    Horrendous motion controls
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    The History Channel: Battle for the Pacific More Info

  • First Released Dec 4, 2007
    • PC
    • PlayStation 2
    • + 3 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Wii
    • Xbox 360
    History Channel: Battle for the Pacific puts you in on the ground in many of the decisive battles in the Pacific Theater or WWII.
    Average Rating975 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Activision, Sand Grain Studios, FUN Labs, Cauldron Ltd.
    Published by:
    First-Person, Shooter, 3D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Mild Language, Violence