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Pacific Assault Demo Impressions

Publisher:Electronic Arts
Genre:First person shooter
Official Site:
Release Date:Autumn 2004
Reviewer:Craig Dudley (Mani)
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I've been looking forward to getting my hands on this demo for a while, ever since the delayed launch a month or so back. I do love World War II games, lots. Can the latest Medal of Honour game take back the mantle of best WWII shooter from Call of Duty? By the looks of most of the screenshots and movies that have been released over the last few weeks, it certainly has a chance.

Let's find out how it stands up to closer examination.

The demo starts with your character, Private Tommy Conlin, asleep in his bunk and being woken by a fellow soldier during a Japanese attack on Henderson Field, Guadalcanal.

Unsurprisingly, you quickly rise and enter the fray equipped with a carbine rifle, and what appears to be an early model Thompson sub-machine gun, the one with the round ammo drum made famous in 1930's gangster movies, and finally, a few fragmentation grenades.

I could show you all my true WWII geekness and explain why later the later model Thompsons' had a stick ammo clip rather than the drum, but I won't. Suffice it to say the later models were cheaper to mass produce.

On with the story, immediately after you leave your tent, the Japanese attack and the fun begins.

Now, we've set the scene, let's talk about the interface.

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Sweeet, flying oxyacetaline.
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I'm hit!
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Argghh, too many!

Screen layout is fairly standard. Health and position indicators are bottom left. Weapon and ammunition indicators are bottom right. The usual compass appears top left, again showing icons for the position of your team.

The only new items here, are the squad icons top right of the screen. From here you can have some form of control over your squad with four simple commands. These are, Advance, Fall Back, Cover Fire & Assemble. You don't really get chance to see exactly how these added features will affect game play, but it's a potentially interesting addition which I'll reserve judgement on until I've played the whole game.

For the most part, enemy AI seems good. They take cover behind trees and other objects and appear to adapt well to you doing different things but for one exception, they don't seem to know what to do if you rush up close to them. Mostly they just charge you, bayonet out and are easy targets for your Thompson, this can make it a little easy, it would be nice if you simply had to use more realistic tactics, hopefully this can be tweaked a little before release, perhaps the fixed difficulty level of the demo is a little low, we shall see.

The physics engine is interesting to say the least, it does add to gameplay to an extent, perhaps more so than doom3 where most items are static. Almost anything on tables or shelves can be shot or moved in some way; various barrels, boxes and smaller structures can also be moved and or destroyed, although obviously most of the larger objects are still static.

It will be interesting to see what sort of dynamic this adds to multiplayer.

After you've fought your way through the jungle camp, you reach the edge of Henderson Field itself where your pilots are scrambling as fast as they can while a number of Japanese soldiers are attacking. After you fight off two groups of attackers, you must man a 50 calibre machine gun and attempt to shoot down wave upon wave of enemy zero fighters and bombers. While graphically impressive, this has a very arcade style feel to it. I particularly like to blurry vision effect after you've been firing a while. However, this section of the demo is not my cup of tea really, I suppose it's fine as long as it's kept short, and mercifully, it is.

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This guy's days are numbered.
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Hmm, viagra or cialis?
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You're not bashing me mister!
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Fix me up doc.

Graphically, Pacific Assault is very good, the jungle foliage works well, certainly as well or better than Battlefield Vietnam. The grass can look a little crappy close up, but it does in both games, the overall effect is very good.

Lighting and shadow effects are impressive, I definitely got the feeling that this place could exist, which in my opinion if the most important thing, irrespective of detail and quality. People simply must be able to relate to the environment the game is trying to portray, other than that generally positive comment, I'll leave you all to make your own mind up by checking out the screenshots.

Sound is very clear and crisp, the environmental jungle sounds are superb, wind rushing through trees, distant plane engines and bombs exploding all add to the overall ambience - I can't fault the sound at all.

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That'll teach ya to rush me.
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I'm not cleaning that up!
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This gun's shaking my eyeballs out

Performance was fine, around the 50 FPS mark for the most part at 1024x768 with all the eye candy turned on. Definitely playable, but I suspect it would be much better with a more modern CPU, my Athlon XP3000+ still does the job, just, but the more advanced AI and physics are going to be crying out for extra horsepower.

Overall I do like the demo, the only real criticism I have is that the game feels a little arcade. I can't really explain it but I feel I should have just put a pound coin in a coin-op and be zapping away with a big plastic Thompson. Perhaps things are just a little too chaotic on this particular map, I just prefer more realism than arcade style blasting. It's also a little short considering it's such a big download

Pacific Assault, is certainly not a generational leap, more of a step, but it definitely does improve on most all previous World War 2 games, graphically and in both the sound and physics departments. Whether the all important gameplay can be tweaked to a point where it's as good as Call of Duty is another matter, it certainly has potential.

Good stuff

  • Sounds great
  • Looks good
  • Havoc physics are fun.

Not so good stuff

  • Feels a little like an arcade game
  • Huge download for a demo

Overall, worth the download if you're on broadband and have a fast PC. Forget it if you're not.

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