Pacific Islands. (computer war game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Scott A. May
The stakes are raised and battle lines drawn in Pacific Islands, Empire Software's dynamic sequel to the best-selling Team Yankee. Like its predecessor, the game features multiunit tank warfare with a wicked twist: Players must direct all four units (16 tanks total) simultaneously, while advancing on an increasingly tenacious computer opponent. It's a strenuous challenge that requires quick reflexes, nerves of steel, and a flair for multitasking tactical decision making.
The expanded scenario casts the player as leader of Team Pacific, summoned to liberate the tiny Yama Yama atoll following its invasion by "disaffected Soviet communists" who are backed by North Korea. A perilous campaign covering five islands and 21 battles of escalating difficulty awaits you.
The game also expands the scope of player involvement to include military financing and supply distribution, a move no doubt inspired by the costly Operation Desert Storm. As if minefields and armor-piercing missiles were not enough to worry about, commanders must please stateside politicians to keep the funds coming. This means quick, decisive victories with minimal collateral damage. Blow your budget, and the war is over.
In addition to each battle's main objectives, players must also contend with a complex enemy communication system. Destroy roving scout units, radar towers, communication aerials, and satellite dishes to impede the flow of enemy intelligence. Failure to do this results in heightened opposition during subsequent battles.
As in Team Yankee, each unit has three display modes: tactical map, 3-D turret view, and status screen. Unit displays can be viewed individually on a full screen or four at a time. The designers deliver slightly faster gameplay in this sequel, despite improved sound and better graphic detail. Casual war gamers will likely be put off by the high frustration factor of managing four battle views at once. Veteran players, on the other hand, should relish the challenge. Most will agree that the game's biggest flaw is a maddening lack of allied artificial intelligence. When not under direct control, your troops are literally sitting ducks. The ability to program tactical decisions would enrich the game tremendously.
The game performs flawlessly under AmigaDOS 2.x and installs easily to either hard drive or RAM disk for fast, smooth operation. The manual is sparse but well written; it includes laminated maps of Yama Yama's five islands.
An intense blend of action and strategy, Pacific Islands offers long-lasting value for those willing to accept its daunting challenge.