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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

CDV

 

Developer

Legendo

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

July 2007

 

 

- Fast-paced arcade dogfighting action is fun

- Japanese campaigns add an interesting dimension

- No fancy joystick required

 

 

- Campaigns are a little confusing and repetitive (and brief)

- Unlimited ammo and simplistic damage model could bother some players 

 

 

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Attack on Pearl Harbor

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

I must say that, as much as I love the realistic IL-2’s and other hardcore flight combat simulators of the world, I have a soft spot for an old-fashioned arcade dogfight now and then.  With no trim adjustments or silly gauges or midair stalls to worry about, CDV Software and Legendo Entertainment’s Attack on Pearl Harbor dispenses with all the pesky complications and delivers a considerable amount of fun in the process.  It’s a fairly mindless game, ideal for a fifteen minute dogfighting break.  There’s no real mental challenge involved, but that seems to be exactly the point.

 

attack on pearl harbor          attack on pearl harbor

 

In a way, Attack on Pearl Harbor succeeds in doing what the much more lauded Battlestations Midway failed to do last year, provide an arcadish Pacific air war that’s both fun (which Battlestations is) and replayable (which Battlestations is . . . not so much).  Attack at Pearl Harbor’s AI is reasonably good, if a tad predictable.

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The size of maps and the scope of the missions feels right on; the player has plenty of room to maneuver without (sorry, IL-2) endless climbs or long slogs from waypoint to waypoint. 

 

The two historical campaigns (technically four – two at the beginning and two at the end of the Pacific war) are fun, if a little 

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brief and arranged in a confusing, dynamic system where successful missions result in experience, medals and new planes, and failed missions means not receiving the same.  Limited choices are given at each stage, with missions corresponding to real fights from Pearl Harbor to Midway to the Coral Sea to late attacks on Japan .  There’s little variety within missions, which generally involve shooting down enemy aircraft, taking out ground defenses, or torpedoing, dive bombing and strafing enemy fleets (probably the funnest task of the three).  The choice of planes, fighters versus dive and torpedo bombers, also affects mission goals.  A very limited story is told using comic strip style cut scenes (à la Max Payne).  This adds a little historical immersion, but not much else.

 

The Japanese campaign is tastefully done, respectful of the courage and skill of the Japanese flyers with not too many uneasy or conflicted moments for American players (though there is at least one late war mission that may challenge US players’ sympathies.)

 

attack on pearl harbor          attack on pearl harbor

 

The included skirmish and multiplayer modes are a fun diversion, though I don’t imagine they comprise much of a threat to the thriving online communities of other, better-known combat flight simulators.

 

Though it seems foolish to complain about realism in a game like this, a few issues did bother me.  Aircraft are armed with unlimited ammo, including rockets, bombs and torpedoes, which is fun but entirely removes one level of strategic concern.  Cannons and machine guns do overheat and other ordinance needs to recharge between uses, but there’s little to prevent the flyer from blazing away at anything that moves, making pass after pass after pass until all targets are blown away.  The damage model is equally simplified, with the biggest threat coming from mid-air collisions.  I might have liked a game option for limited ammo or a more complex damage model, just to add an extra challenge after mastering the basic game.

 

The graphics are acceptable, and some of the “dawn on the Pacific” scenery is actually quite beautiful.  The aircraft models, while nothing to shout about, are attractive and well-crafted.  Attack on Pearl Harbor delivers very well on all the obligatory WWII Pacific air war visual thrills – i.e. enemy planes plunging into the sea, fighters diving out of the sun etc.

 

Though Attack is joystick and controller compatible, I found no real advantage to using these over mouse and keys.  My Saitek Aviator joystick actually felt a little touchy and overly responsive compared to the mouse.  This is fine, since the average joystick or controller packs a half dozen too many buttons for Attack on Pearl Harbor ’s “fly + shoot” planes.

 

Yes, I’ll certainly keep playing IL2 (please don’t stall, please don’t stall) as well as 1C’s upcoming (and spectacular, from what I’ve seen) Battle of Britain.  But Attack on Pearl Harbor is a fun, if forgettable, game to play in the mean time.

 

- John Tait

(November 15, 2007)

 

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