The 32-bit systems haven't had much in the way of wartime strategy games, but Koei hopes to correct that situation with P.T.O. II for the Saturn. P.T.O. II, which stands for Pacific Theater of Operations, is a text-heavy strategy game where players are responsible for the outcome of various World War II battles and operations, and ultimately the war itself. In other words, P.T.O. II is geared toward those who prefer a long game of Risk, versus the quick-fix death and destruction of, for example, Command & Conquer.
Before the action commences, players can access detailed specs of American or Japanese warships, aircraft, tanks, and submarines - a nifty option for war buffs intrigued by the vital statistics of war materiel. Players can also call up profiles of many legendary WWII heroes from the Japanese, American, British, and Dutch armies. The display text in these info screens can be hard to read, but the facts will appease any WWII aficionado.
To begin a game, players must first select a campaign scenario from a list of 13 actual military operations that took place in the Pacific between 1941 and 1945. These include the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Day of Infamy. After picking a scenario, and deciding which side to play (American or Japanese), players are then treated to black-and-white video clips from the actual incident. At this point it's possible to determine the Victory Condition of the mission, or at least what must be accomplished in order to declare victory over the enemy. For example, to win the Battle of Midway players can either sink four or more aircraft carriers or six or more battleships by June 18, 1942. For those who don't think that's enough of a challenge, it's possible to take on more demanding objectives.
Because P.T.O. II focuses on detailed military strategy, rather than explosion-heavy eye candy, the game's graphics are appropriately simplistic. It's sort of like watching an overhead view of a game of Battleship. Aside from the battle phases, during which players will view computer-generated attack scenes, the majority of P.T.O. II's action takes place within text screens, charts, menus, and data. Graphically, it's not exactly worthy of the Saturn's power, but it works well for what it is. The interface is fairly easy to use: Want more subs to aid in the assault on a fleet of aircraft carriers? Just click on "subs," pick a unit, and in the water they go. The same goes for marine troops, aircraft, and the like. Players must monitor all facets of their mission, including the position of army and navy troops, the distribution of supplies to their bases, and the transporting of materiels to those bases.
P.T.O. II may not be the most graphically-riveting war sim around, but for those interested in a nice, long, full-scale war, this game is just the ticket.