Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies Review

One of the mini-cutscenes that play when you engage a target

  • Developer: Firaxis Games
  • Publisher: 2K Games
  • Release Date: 6 November 2013
  • Time played: 2.5 hours

If you've already read my Sid Meier's Ace Patrol review, this one is going to be very similar. Why? Because it's basically a re-skinned Ace Patrol set in the WWII Pacific Theatre, more or less.

Gameplay (3/5)
Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies, like Ace Patrol, is a casual strategy game where you get to order fighters in aerial combat. Instead of WWI fighters though, you get to command WWII fighters this time around, either from the US or Japanese sides. You get to a pilot and a wingman but eventually you have a squadron of four pilots under your command. Pilots gain experience after battles which you can then use to teach them new skills. Planes also improve during the course of the war so you usually have a choice between one of two planes for each pilot, and each plane have different strengths and weaknesses, such as speed, manoeuvrability, etc.

Each mission takes place on a hexagonal grid (war game enthusiasts in the audience rejoice!) and your plans can fly at different altitude levels. The goal for each mission can vary between escorting reconnaissance planes, attacking supply trains or simply eliminating the enemy. You achieve this by directing the plans under your command in the mission to perform different aerial manoeuvres. As they gain more experience, they gain more manoeuvres which make them more effective fighters. Which difficulty setting you're on and how much damage you inflict and how much you receive determines what you'll be awarded as a score at the end of the mission. So there's some incentive there to go back and beat your existing score.

The game is mildly entertaining and I can appreciate there is some strategy involved especially on later missions (and I was only playing on Easy difficulty). However the only reward you will receive from playing more efficiently is a higher score, very much the old school train of thought to rewarding players. While that's fine for many players, and probably effective on a mobile platform, I need a bit more from my PC game in order to keep me interested.

Hell yeah, P-38 Lightning FTW! Although, it actually isn't as good as I would've hoped (at least in this game)

Sound (2/5)
Sound effects are of an average quality but one thing that annoys me (and I think it's because it's a mobile port) is that you can't change the audio volume in-game. You can only turn it on and off, and by default the volume is really loud.

Music (4/5)
Music is also of an average quality and suffers from the same volume issues as the sound effects. However, unlike Ace Patrol, I actually like the music in this one as it plays a lot of WWII-era jazz and swing.

Graphics (3/5)
Graphics can be best described as basic 3D models - so you don't have any fancy effects here but keep in mind this was originally meant to be a mobile game so it's understandable. They're not too bad that they detract totally from the gameplay though except the explosions sometimes looks like cardboard cut-outs.

Replay (2/5)
As was the case with the previous Ace Patrol, I managed to finish one of the campaigns in only 2 hours. Again there are four campaigns available (US Navy, US Army, Japan Navy and Japan Army) so there should be at least 8 hours of gameplay there. Since I was only playing on Easy difficulty though, you could always return playing on harder difficulty settings to accumulate more points in each mission. There are also achievements to hunt for too - so there's quite a bit to do here but unfortunately the game still hasn't tempted me to play more than one campaign.

Polish (5/5)
I didn't encounter any significant issues while playing Pacific Skies so it's a fairly well polished title. Controls seem to work well on a PC, even though it's a mobile port.

Score – 7/10

In most regards, Pacific Skies is very similar to the original Ace Patrol: both are fun aerial combat strategy games, both are targeted for the mobile market and both have issues with longevity when compared to games like Civilization. However, if I was asked which one I prefer, I'd have to say Pacific Skies but only because I like WWII era music and aircraft. And for that, it gets an extra point.

If you want to get the game, you can get it on Steam.

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[ LINK: Official Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies website]