Tristan Kalogeropoulos
31 Aug, 2007

Attack on Pearl Harbor Review

PC Review | An American/Japanese war with a distinctly American spelling.
Zipping around in a World War II bomber is generally the realm of those with an arsenal of plastic peripherals. Flight yokes and joysticks adorn their computer desks. On their brow or the peak of their cap sits the head-tracking device, a mark of their membership to an aerial cult taking to the virtual skies. Their knowledge of these gravity defying vehicles is generally extensive to say the least, and it is required to be this way, as many flight sims are so accurate that the simplest differences in plane specs will result in a need to change up tactics in order to cope with each minor variation. Those whose desire it is to leave the runway, but that are not 100 percent dedicated to learning the ins and outs of the P-51 Mustang or the F4U Corsair, let alone rarer varieties of plane, are more often than not left without a game. Although there are a few titles that serve a more ‘casual’ audience the numbers are definitely behind the ‘hardcore’ when it comes to titles in the flying genre. Attack on Pearl Harbor adds another weight to the less peripheral intensive end of the market’s scales.

Don’t be fooled by the game’s title, Attack on Pearl Harbor is not the fully fledged flight sim that the six syllable name may conjure up in your mind upon first glance. That’s not a bad thing at all, but those looking for dials, knobs, and 10 hour recon missions have a whole airfield of other titles ready to take off in. Instead of complicated, time sapping simulation, Attack on Pearl Harbor offers some incredibly enjoyable arcade-like gameplay reminiscent of a number of older titles, such as Wings of Fury, from simpler days that put you in a cockpit, not simply to follow orders, not to learn how to fly a plane, but instead with the main objective of having fun.

Smoking or non-smoking?

Smoking or non-smoking?
From main menu to gameplay Attack on Pearl Harbor is straight forward. To begin with you’ll choose the Japanese or American forces. While it doesn’t quite achieve the emotional or socio-political impact of All Quiet on the Western Front, the game’s choice to allow for players to choose either side in battle is a relatively novel and even ‘gutsy’ addition, even if each is presented in a relatively stereotypical fashion. Story exposition in Attack on Pearl Harbor is carried out via 1950/60’s boy's magazine style comics. A few pages of these will brief you at the beginning of each chapter to pull all the action together.

The mission screen presents your objectives in a similarly ‘Boy’s Own adventure’ style. With either Generals from the land of the rising sun or Uncle Sam’s troops informing you of what you’ll be tasked with in the upcoming sortie. All the missions are based on real life battles from World War II. Far from an historically accurate simulacra of actual events, these merely tie your objectives and gameplay to a real world occasion and location. Their casual, not too heavy style fits extremely well with the game’s content.

Taking off takes a simple as tap on the space bar - no need here to check with your co-pilot on how to adjust the landing gear. The rest of the controls are also uncomplicated. There are two keys are used faster and slow down, the mouse is used to control direction and the mouse buttons are used for weapons. This is one World War II flight game were you won’t need a manual.

It's just like going to the airshow, only with more shooting and imperialistic land grabbing.

It's just like going to the airshow, only with more shooting and imperialistic land grabbing.
When all is said and done Attack on Pearl Harbor really only has two types of missions, these being bombing raids and aerial combat. Progressing through the game, missions branch off each other and everything continues on regardless of whether you fail a task or not. However doing well will reward you with experience points and in the process unlock extra planes for you to use.

Your aircraft’s ammunition is essentially unlimited and all the action takes place from a third person perspective - well actually a third 'plane' perspective - amplifying the fact that Attack on Pearl Harbor has as its lineage a long line of arcade titles rather than sims. Dog-fighting is incredibly fun. As you arc around enemies, machine guns blazing, a real sense of achievement is felt when the first signs of smoke begin to pour from their damaged engines. Bombing targets either via torpedos or dropped bombs also gives a great sense of achievement as ships begin to disappear under the liquid surface of the sea or buildings are raised to the ground.

Your aircraft’s damage is displayed on a dial. Thankfully, especially considering the effective AI, you can take a lot more gunfire than whichever side you’re battling. You’re flying foes won’t simply sit on one flight path and take the reams of lead you’re projecting in their direction. Instead they do the aerial equivalent of ducking and weaving, sometimes flying straight at you in order to make it more difficult to re-target them, as a complete about face is needed.

Damn there's a lot of planes and air in this game.

Damn there's a lot of planes and air in this game.
Everything looks great too. The sun that glistens off your wingtips and the smoke that bellows out of both ground and air targets adds a definite sense of flying through a war zone located in the real world. Motion too, is incredibly fluid, even when there are tens of enemies zig-zagging across your field of vision. The environments are also delicately rendered and all look great, especially when compared to many other titles whose action takes place predominantly in the air.

The game’s main downfall is a slight brevity of content. Each campaign has very similar missions and these can be chewed through pretty fast. However considering its price position on both physical and online game shelves, the amount of gameplay offered in Attack on Pearl Harbor is to be expected. If viewed as the arcade title that it is then the short bursts of fun that it can provide definitely have the ability outweigh the disappointment that this is not a more fully fleshed out product.

Along with the campaign mode, Attack on Pearl Harbor’s extras include a single quick dogfight mode and online play mode. Both of these add a little extra to the title’s offerings, but its real allure is definitely the two side’s stories.

Attack on Pearl Harbor is an incredibly enjoyable title that shirks overly serious gameplay for a great deal of fun. There’s not heaping mounds of content but what's there is well put together and should keep you amused for a reasonable amount of time, or should we say 'air-time' (no probably not.... oh well).
The Score
Attack on Pearl Harbor offers some great 'arcadey' action and some incredibly fun aerial combat that is great in short bursts. However players looking for something in a complicated/involving vein are best to look elsewhere.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  9/08/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $49.95 AU
  Red Ant
Year Made:

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