"I've been here before you know. The beach, and... And... The shooting. The dead people, I remember them. That pier wasn't there last time though, and the graphics are certainly better. Yes, yes, it's all coming back to me now. I was here before about three years ago when I was playing
Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, and now I'm doing exactly the same thing although it isn't half as good. Right-ho. Darling, did you see where I put my receipt?"
What an opener! What a first level! What a hook for the rest of the game! I'm being sarcastic of course; it's actually rubbish. The sad thing is that, deep down, Pacific Assault is in part a nice game with some lovely levels, shiny graphics and an only slightly wonky physics engine. When it's doing its own thing, using a concept known in some areas as 'being original', then it's an engaging shooter that may not turn the world upside down, but has some nice ideas and constructs a fair few memorable set-pieces.
The thing is, it just seems so obsessed with reclaiming former Allied Assault glories and replicating (and then over-playing) what made Call Of Duty so wonderful, that it buries itself under the mantra of 'More jeep chases! More standing guns! We'll pull all the same tricks they did, but we'll do them more often and we'll do them better'!
Only, MoH: PA never actually does them better, and it compounds this by swapping the grit, grime and stomach-chewing terror conveyed in Dawnville or Stalingrad for tamer Boy's Own adventure tangent.
Don't I Know You?
You see, in far too many places, Pacific Assault feels like yet another rehash of the same WWII game: re-copied and xeroxed into fuzziness and mediocrity. This (most stupidly) shows up the most in the earlier levels - the part of the game that should have been designed to grab you and not let go. After the perfunctory standing behind military beach furniture and hiding under piers in the first level, you get knocked unconscious and
are whisked (well, not exactly whisked, the load-times are hideous) back in time to a boot camp level. Here, you're shouted at by a drill sergeant who's hell-bent on teaching you exactly what you've already done in the first level in the most drawn-out and stereotypical way imaginable.
I swear, this game has got more introductions than The Return Of The King had endings. Even after this, you've still got the delights of more load-screens, some patriotic FMV and an endless jeep ride around Pearl Harbour with some divot in a captain's hat to endure before you're allowed to have any fun. The assault on Pearl itself is a blast, but following this, the game takes an extremely long time to capitalise and present you with something that's actually new and improved.
In fact, Pacific Assault continues to stutter until it hits its stride a good seven levels into the Pacific campaign, by which point you're deep in the jungle in the excellent Guadalcanal missions and fully accustomed to the eccentricities of your squad and the way the game mechanics operate. You're stuck under the helmet of one Tommy Conlin, and accompanied in your travels by some good ol' boys by the names of Frank, Jimmy and Willy (none of whom are quite as irritating as you might imagine). With these guys in tow (and sometimes a fair few more for good measure), you find yourself infiltrating Japanese bases and listening to distant shouts and rumblings as you prepare to hold off advancing troops on Bloody Ridge. You also find yourself running over airfields as countless Zeros swarm overhead, trudging along jungle paths or waist-deep in jungle rivers and keeping your eyes on the undergrowth for the many, many ambushes that await you.