Pacific Islands. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
War gamers who like to get their hands dirty on the front line rather than view a battlefield as icons scattered around a strategic map will get a real bang out of Pacific Islands. It's a tactical level tank simulation from the makers of the popular Team Yankee. In Pacific Islands, you control up to 16 tanks as you try to retake the islands of the Yama Yama atoll. The action is hot, realistic, and as addictive as a war game can get.
You start your campaign by buying the tanks and equipment you need for your mission. Four types of tanks are available: the M1 Abrams, the M113, the M2 Bradley, and the ITV. To arm these iron-clad vehicles, you can choose from heat shells, SABOT shells, TOW missiles, and smoke shells. If you like to get into the action fast, though, you can skip over all of the purchasing screens, and choose the default setup, which instantly supplies you with vehicles and equipment, subtracting the cost from your cash.
Once equipped, it's off to the briefing room, where a map of the battle area and an accompanying notebook appraise you of your mission's details. The notebook outlines your objectives, while their approximate locations are marked on the map. Occasionally, military intelligence has helpful clues about what surprises might greet you in the pending confrontation. In addition, before entering the fray, you can request artillery support and smoke bombing for specific locations at given times.
When the battle commences, you control four platoons of four tanks each. ReadySoft recommends using a mouse to play. Although you have 16 vehicles under your control, each platoon receives commands as a group, so you don't have to command each tank individually. Plus, you can select several screen view for each platoon, the most important of which are the 3-D view, which offers a first-person perspective from the tank, and the map view, which shows an overhead shot of the area. You can zoom in and out in either view, which is especially helpful on the map screen. Using the zoom, you can look at the entire map, focus on individual vehicles, or view the area at several different intermediate magnifications.
You also can have all four platoon views onscreen simultaneously, each platoon showing a different map or area of the battlefield. Or if you'd like, a single platoon's screen quadrant can be magnified to full-screen size, a view from which tank controls are more accessible. These controls include a weapons firing panel, turret-rotation compass, laser range finder, infrared view, zoom, and more.
On the map screen, you can access even more tank and screen controls. You can set a platoon's formation, speed, and direction; and you can zoom in or out on the map display. Targetting enemy units on this map is a breeze: You just mark the unit with the map cross hairs and then return to the 3-D view, where the compass icon will swivel your turret toward the marked target. You also use the map cursor to set your platoon's next destination by clicking on the map. You can set your targets and mark your destinations at any zoom setting.
All in all, with its well-rendered 3-D graphics, realistic battle scenarios, easy-to-master controls, and blistering hot action, Pacific Islands is a delight. I highly recommend it.