Pacific General

4The American blitz in the Pacific.

Pacific General was a game in the famous Five-Star General series, hex wargames that trace their origin back to the Panzer General engine. Here the action centers upon the titanic struggle between the Japanese and the Allies during World War II. Campaigns and scenarios will vary in scope from the enormous conflicts fought within the continental vastness of Asia and Australia to the smaller  battles that raged upon the many tiny Pacific islands and atolls.

Unfortunately, Pacific General does all this while maintaining the same inconsistent unit sizes across fluctuating operational scales. In fact, its rather loose association with any actual order of battle will probably drive most historical wargamers to commit voluntary Hara-kiri. On the other hand, the innovative and simplistic approach to this gigantic conflict has much to offer game players who have managed to ignore the vagueness around this particular aspect of the series design.

If your first experience in the Five-Star series was with the highly praised Panzer General, you may recall what a visual joy it was to review your vaunted legions with their many campaign ribbons and battle honors that emblazoned them with glory. Sadly, this feature has apparently become a casualty of a game design evolution which has opted for a more drab and utilitarian unit-viewing interface. Purchasing and upgrading units has also taken on a confusing air, with the many toggle switches and buttons rendering it more of a encyclopedic chore than the pleasant snap of previous outings. Also missed is being able to see how many core and auxiliary units were available for purchase during a campaign.

5With a heavy emphasis on naval warfare, Pacific General has expanded many naval warfare features. Naval gunnery ranges for the smaller island scenarios are increased to allow shore bombardment to be depicted more realistically. Aircraft carriers have a special button for handling carried-based air unit operations. Submarines can submerge and may evade enemy destroyers and can torpedo an enemy capital ship. Warship damage is a combination of strength losses (kills and wounds) and critical hits which may randomly disable a ship’s combat or maneuvering capabilities.

Migrating to Windows 95 and DirectX has provided some niceties, but overall Pacific General doesn’t really deliver all that much more in terms of game features than did its predecessors. Oh sure there are the video clips, the weather animation, and the streamed music – but so what? When those features are disabled, what you’re left with is a game that can’t measure up to its predecessors.

System Requirements: 80486/66 MHz, 8 NB RAM, Win95

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