Heroes of the Pacific PS2 Review

Real war normally involves a lot more than a handful of people, and big enemy numbers is something that gaming has been unable to achieve until recent years. Heroes of the Pacific allows us to at least take a glimpse at the war filled skies of the pacific during World War II, whilst there was probably hundreds more blocking out the sun, it’s undoubtedly an impressive sight witnessing up to 150 flying machines on the screen at one time!

This remarkable number would be nothing but a “simple number” if the game wasn’t up to scratch, but thankfully Heroes of the Pacific is one of the best of its kind. The games big stage is that of the pacific, meaning it’s all about shooting Japanese planes out of the skies and making the country pay for their cowardly attack on Pearl Harbour. It’s personal too, as your brother wasn’t so lucky in the attack.

This 1941 attack resulted in the Americans entering the conflict, and Heroes of the Pacific just happens to begin at this very significant moment. The games missions are historically accurate and obviously take place in the pacific, which means the likes of Midway Island, Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal are recreated for our consoles.

Missions are intense and action packed and as varied as things are going to get for such a game. Shooting enemy planes down and blowing things up is obviously the predominant factor of any plane game, and here you get to bomb airfields, sink ships and basically explode enough things to make the Japanese think twice about ever doing such a thing to America again! Many of the games missions also have you commandeering a squadron of planes, which can be ordered around at will via the d-pad, giving you simple access to commands such as attack, break formation, form up and defend. Then there’s the very occasional recon missions, which have you scoping the enemy out and gathering essential information with your eye in the sky, by taking specified photos.

The game presents the player with the option of two different control schemes, one for those who want an easy flight and another for virtual pilots who prefer to have full flight control at their fingertips. The “arcade” control scheme is the simple method of flying, and it even goes as far as automatically assisting you in lining your plane up after a sharp bank and disallows the more spectacular of aerial acrobatics such as barrel rolls. Obviously the tougher “professional” scheme isn’t as forgiving and leaves all of these tasks for the player to deal with.

The control schemes do have a lot in common beyond the actual control of the plane. When you want to travel at higher speeds for whatever reason, war speed is your best bet and is easily brought into play by pushing the right analog stick, which results in a massive jolt of time saving – not forgetting to mention life saving – speed. When torpedoing boats and dive-bombing targets enter the equation you’ll have to adapt to what is expected of you in the control of your plane or you’ll end up in a burning wreckage or a watery grave.

This is a game that wants to be your friend and it keeps things simple if you really want it to be that way. Handy on-screen indicators provide you with proof that the game is always on your side, making torpedoing and dive-bombing targets an absolute joy. Firing torpedoes requires a straight flight angle as well as a slow and steady speed, therefore when approaching sea level an indicator provides you with all the knowledge you need to let the “fish” swim toward its target. Your angle and speed are similarly aided when dive-bombing the enemy, and it makes both these tasks huge amounts of fun.

The game has a host of upgradeable planes (fighters, bombers, torpedo bombers and dive bombers), with many waiting to be unlocked. These are all authentic aircraft from the period and each has a history in the war effort. Upon completing missions you are rewarded with upgrade points (the amount won depends on your chosen difficulty level as well as the completion of secondary objectives) to spend on many of the games planes, which improves various stats and onboard weaponry.

This does a lot of things right and very little wrong, which makes Heroes of the Pacific a truly enjoyable World War II flight game that comes highly recommended. Throw in a decent multi-player mode for those with and without broadband as well as some truly dazzling presentation, and Heroes of the Pacific has everything you could possibly wish for.