Heroes of the Pacific review

  • Over thirty planes to master
  • Skies frantic enough to make Michael Bay puke
  • Missions book ended with historical facts
  • You cant always fly your favored plane
  • Enemies that inexplicably cheat death
  • Game is as merciful as a POW camp

It’s odd that so many choose to concentrate on the European Theatre of Operations. Storming Normandy and the grim struggle for Stalingrad provide meaty scenarios, but they’re only part of the story. On the other side of the world a different type of war was being waged. A war fought in the endless blue of sea and sky.

Heroes flings you into this frightening azure void with an alarming lack of ceremony. Much like the young pilots of the day you’re thrown into the thick of things before you’re really ready. The early campaign levels are a wake up call to those who’ve mistaken the arcade handling and comic book Americana styling as an indication that they’re in for an easy ride.

Heroes is tough. No scratch that, Heroes is nails. Even on Rookie (the easiest of five difficulty settings) you’re in for a serious pummeling. Not from the struggle with your flying machines though. Choosing to fly with either Arcade or Professional control settings is really just a choice between how you like to handle yaw and roll, rather than an indication of difficulty. It sometimes feels like you’re the only friendly pilot in the skies, dashing from location to location, taking on orders left, right and center like a performer spinning plates.

Each mission sets primary and secondary objectives, but once completed, the powers that be have no qualms about reassigning you six or seven times throughout the course of any given battle. Bomb this destroyer, shoot down that bomber wing, make my bloody sandwiches. It’s pretty relentless. But there is a pay-off for all this hard work. At the end of each mission you are awarded new and better aircraft. Upgrading your various aircraft types to sub-models with better guns or faster engines becomes something of a strategic challenge.

The boast from Codemasters is ‘up to 150 airplanes on screen’ and it really can be like that. It’s the best bits from every aerial war-movie you’ve ever seen. Were it not for some hugely irritating oversights and bugs it’d get a top score. But a few things break the spell, like some awkward controls and the occasionally laughable physics that have you bouncing back from head-on collisions rather than sending both planes into the drink.

Heroes is a very demanding game and shows about as much mercy as a Japanese POW camp official. You always need to be thinking. For instance, if you’re over some friendly ships and order your wing to Defend they’ll stick with those ships wherever they go, whereas a Defend command issued over open water will result in your wing simply patrolling that patch of sky. And don’t forget you’re dogfighting with those Zeros while you’re deciding. And what dogfights there can be.

More Info

Release date: Sep 30 2005 - PS2, Xbox
Oct 25 2005 - PC (US)
Sep 30 2005 - PS2 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS2, Xbox, PC
Genre: Flight
Published by: Ubisoft, Codemasters
Developed by: IR Gurus
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Strong Language, Violence


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