Computer games these days have a tendency of trying to be overly epic and complicated. All the simple stuff tends to be found only on the consoles and PC gamers get the ports - usually rushed and tailored for a joypad. In that context, it's refreshing to see a good, simple arcade game made for PC. Attack on Pearl Harbor is simple - it's a third-person arcade shooter with WW2 planes. You can fly freely within the mission area, and each mission has a set of goals to perform, but it's all kept very simple and easy to play.
The 21ba closest thing one could compare this to might be the excellent Ace Combat series on the PlayStation consoles (with the drool-inducing sixth installment heading to Xbox 360 this fall). In a game like this, realism is something for dweebs - no in-cockpit view, infinite ammunition and infinite bombs, torpedoes or rockets. No complex maps or attack plans, and no wrestling with realistic flight models either; just take a plane for a spin and shoot down stuff. Just for fun.
Each side of the WW2 Pacific theater is represented, and you have a handful of famous WW2 aircraft available to pilot. In the US campaign you can fly P-40 "Warhawk", F4U Corsair, Supermarine Seafire, TBF Avenger torpedo bomber and SBD Dauntless dive bomber. Japanese planes available are Mitsubishi A6M1 "Zero", Nakajima J1N1 "Gekko", Nakajima B5N2 "Kate" torpedo bomber, Aichi D3A "Val" dive bomber. US Pilots also get to cover B25 Mitchell bombers (non-flyable) during their campaign and the Japanese get shoot them down during their tour.
Official gameplay trailer
Simplicity + Polish = Fun
Even takeoffs can be automated by just pressing space, and there is no need to land after a mission. Just pure action all the way.
It's rare to see something this well polished and easy on the PC. No need to tune settings or controls, just start a campaign, and you'll be shooting down Japanese (or American) planes in no time. There are four campaigns - Americans start out on the defense during the early parts of the war, and then have an offensive campaign for the late war. Japanese have things flipped around - they are first on the attack, then running ever more desperate defending in the second campaign. Each campaign consists of about ten missions, with the first campaign unlocking the second after completion.
Alongside the action there are some bits of storyline presented with voice-overs and comic book panels. They look nice and enhance the "WW2 comic book adventure" feeling of the game, but you get them rarely and don't really add that much to the game. Mission descriptions themselves are just text - and you can safely skip them if you are not interested, as you are directed to your tasks during the mission via real-time speech.
Mission types vary - dogfighting, covering ships or ground troops, bombing, torpedo runs, escorting bombers, patrolling... and in many missions you end up in air combat even when flying a dive bomber or torpedo plane. Some missions allow you to choose the plane type you wish to use, and that usually indicates a "mixed" mission with multiple goals.
Getting shot down isn't the end of the world either - you can actually bypass missions after a failure as long as you have spare planes available. Extra planes are awarded based on number of kills and the supply is rather generous.
Games: Attack on Pearl Harbor
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