Pacific Storm

Pacific Storm is another attempt to breathe fresh life into the strategy gaming arena by fusing a grand strategic map with real time combat. On one level you make all the command decisions in the Pacific theater of World War II; on another, you command the fleets and planes in ship to ship combat. And, if you need a third level, you can take direct control of the air war by flying the planes themselves or manning the anti-aircraft guns on your vessels.

The grand strategy level spans from India in the West to Panama in the East and will be playable in two different campaigns. In the historical scenario, the Japanese will have more experienced sailors but fewer homeland resources than their American rivals.

In the free play setup, both sides start from scratch and start the war on their own terms. Each base will house ships, factories and historical personnel, like Nimitz and Yamamoto, all of which must be brought to bear to make the war a success. Little plastic ships move across the map, occasionally reporting enemy sightings.

When battles do break out, you will have the opportunity to directly control the events on the ground in a real time naval battle unlike any you've ever seen. Ships move with the deliberation of the behemoths of the past while aircraft and shells explode overhead.

If you don't have the patience or skill for this sort of endeavor, you can always automate the results. More hands-on players might want to take to the air by possessing a fighter plane or ship board anti-air weapon, but it remains to be seen how useful these flight sims will be in the long run.

At the moment, Pacific Storm is one of the most ambitious and intriguing efforts at fusing the big picture planning and the war fighting itself. Players will have almost complete control over the level of involvement they want to have in their conquest of the Pacific and everything except the movement of the fleets themselves will have some sort of automation. Will the arrival of Pacific Storm be a day of infamy or victory? It sets sail on August 15.