Battlestations: Pacific Preview

Unlike most World War II titles, Eidos Studios Hungary's upcoming action-tactics hybrid Battlestations: Pacific focuses on sea and air combat over traditional ground-based assault, and breaks one of the long-standing taboos in WW2 games by including an Axis campaign.

"The main goal of Pacific is to create a bigger and better game than Midway, which was just the game from the US side of the Midway campaign," lead designer Botond Szalacsi told me. "I want it to be the whole Pacific experience for the players."

Unlike its Xbox 360 and PC predecessor Battlestations: Midway, Pacific features both US and Japanese campaigns, allowing players to see the war from both perspectives and, if victorious as the Japanese, change the course of history. But creating a speculative scenario for a Japanese victory in the Pacific campaign was no simple task.

"We did a whole lot of research—the US side of the campaign was much easier to research than the Japanese, obviously," Szalacsi explained. "We tried to find out how Japanese wanted to achieve their goals in the Pacific, they wanted to just dominate. And we have a lot of media, video, audio assets and such—a small library, lots of books. We tried to analyze through those materials a what-if scenario, because there's no point in losing the war while you are winning the battles."

Though the original Battlestations: Midway focused on sea and air combat, Szalacsi said that Pacific will allow players to use terra firma to their advantage, even if not directly. In addition to the 21 new units, players will also be able to use paratroopers, landing troops and ships to get soldiers into land-based points of interest.

"You can use landing troops or landing ships to capture key locations on the map, which is a new concept to Battlestations Pacific. I cannot go into detail, but you can use batteries and compounds once you capture them."

Szalacsi noted that while it was too early in development to discuss the details of Battlestations: Pacific's five multiplayer modes, a great deal of input from the tight-knit community surrounding Battlestations: Midway was considered in revamping the franchise for its second outing.

"Battlestations: Midway has an active fan base, and we are looking forward to working with those guys, and this means that we asked a lot of questions of them, what did you like or not like in the first game and where we can improve. All of the improvements have connections with that feedback."

Battlestations: Pacific is scheduled for release in the latter half of 2008.