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Battlestations: Midway

Dark clouds are now gathering over the Pacific for the next generation of WWII-themed games, with Medal Of Honor: Pacific Assault and Pacific Fighters (see page 64) already sailing east. Battlestations: Midway from Hungarian developer Mithis, is the latest title to document the bitter confrontation between Allied and Japanese forces; a mixture of seafaring action and strategy beginning with the attack on Pearl Harbour in Hawaii on December 7 1941, that brought America into WWII, and ending with the pivotal Battle of Midway six months later.

You can choose either a US or Japanese campaign consisting of more than 20 authentic missions, where, in addition to commanding over 100 air, sea and land units in a Command & Conquer RTS style, you have the option of taking direct control of any of them at any time. This means you can, for example, switch in real-time from being a submarine captain stalking an enemy aircraft carrier, to piloting a dive bomber flying high above a cargo transporter. You do this with the tap of a button, and the AI immediately jumps in to take care of the craft you've just vacated.

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Go Down Fighting
Battlestations: Midway is concentrated around the use of over 50 different ship types, all based on actual designs borrowed from the National Maritime Museum, with each mission played out on a huge map of at least 1,600 square kilometres of islands and open sea. Early missions only involve a small flotilla, but that evolves into complex missions with multiple objectives and fleets of up to eight different vessels including submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers that you have to keep shipshape and Bristol fashion.

Each craft in your fleet can be controlled in real-time by pointing and clicking on the command map (which when called up, is superimposed over the action), or moved directly using a controller, with weapons fired independently - which in the case of a King George V battleship include depth charges, torpedoes, anti-aircraft fire and gun batteries. As with real sea battles, moving your ship so it's side-on to the enemy vessels will make you a bigger target, but enable your guns to have a clear shot.

A detailed damage model is being developed for Battlestations that will correctly work out the direct consequences of a strike against a unit - if a shell hits the engine room, for example, there will be a bigger explosion than if a shell hits the side of the ship. Fire can spread to other parts of the vessel, gun turrets can be destroyed, steering can jam and the ship can actually start to list badly if the hull is breached too.

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However, you do have repair crews on board that can man the pumps or fight raging fires, but it's up to you how you manage your ship's resources. Left to the game's AI, crews will automatically try and save the ship without your intervention, but a skilled general - as in war - will sacrifice his vessel with a controlled flooded descent to ensure that the guns are kept operational and aimed at the enemy for as long as possible.

Chocks Away!
As well as manning the ships and gun batteries, you can also take to the air in over 25 aircraft such as Recon planes and Torpedo runners. Each carrier in your fleet is able to support 12 craft (four squadrons of three units) at any time, and dozens of replacements are available below deck in case Ginger buys it at 10,000 feet. Each of these planes, like the ships, can be ordered around, left to the computer or directly controlled by you - and they should handle perfectly (unlike the recent Secret Weapons Over Normandy, which Mithis felt was too dumbed down).

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