It’s rare when an opinionated review can make a promise. However, that’s going to be the case here, and that promise is this: During your time with Battle for the Pacific, there will be one thought running through your mind – Why am I not playing Call of Duty? It’s amazing what the History Channel will put their name on, but apparently the branding means nothing as they long as they profit from it.
It’s rare when a game gets nothing right, but that’s the case here. Players control a generic solider with no combined story. Mission choices feel slapped together, joined only by the video clips between levels.
Levels fall into three categories: Trenches, jungles, and caves. The entire two or three hour experience only has these three choices, and it quickly becomes apparent that this title had a budget hovering around the bare minimum. Enemy AI is hilariously awful. Some enemies will obviously see the player coming around corner, yet won’t even react before being shot down.
Each stage, with the exception of the very start of the game, requires the player to follow a point man. Failure to do means it’s game over and back to the last checkpoint. It’s utterly baffling. When you need ammo, he takes off sprinting to the next objective. When you’re ready to move, he becomes confused, runs in the wrong direction, or stands there adjusting his collar. Since you need to be right on top of a gun to pick it up, it’s even more frustrating when you’re not given the time you need.
The only stages that could possibly need some guidance are the trenches. Since the level design requires the player to double back, visual objects repeat, and the sand all looks the same, it would have been impossible to find the way out. Other stages are strictly linear with only one path to take, so it’s hard to get lost.
Even on the hardest difficulty, you’ll only have minor issues. Your invincible AI partners will do most of the shooting for you if you let them. All you need to do is advance enough to trigger their movement. Health regenerates quickly, and you can take a number of bullets before going down. Most of your game over screens will result from not following your commander, and then you’ll likely have to re-do all of the cinematics since checkpoints exist before them, not after.
At times, Battle for the Pacific is funny. The first jungle leads into an airfield where the hokey dialogue begins panicking for an air strike because your squad is pinned by enemy fire. However, there is no one in sight and no shots being fired. Since the game can only handle about five people on screen before the frame rate takes a dive into the single digits, this never feels intense. Brief anti-air turret segments add little to the experience.
To its credit, it does look decent. The jungle environment does offer some impressive sights, even if they do repeat. The smooth, colorful textures are a nice break from the bleak sights of other games. Any immersion is destroyed by the single (yes, one) music track and the dozen or so voice samples that carry no emotion at all.
Multi-player might have eliminated some of the AI issues, but the servers are empty. You can’t find a game to enter into the usual array of deathmatch and capture the flag modes. Then again, why wouldn’t you just play Call of Duty?
Battle for the Pacific further knocks the History Channel brand down a notch on consoles, and yes that’s after two Civil War titles that were equally terrible. If the network wants to attract younger viewers, then they’ll also have to accept that they need to put forth the financial backing as well. Why not license Call of Duty?