Whoever thinks combat flight sims thinks 1C Maddox. These crazy Ivans have released a timeless classic with IL-2 Sturmovik and blew some new life into this pushed back genre. The year after its original release, the standalone expansion IL-2 Forgotten Battles got put on the market and offered more of the same. Now the series moves from the icey cold Russia to the warmer South Pacific. Enough difference to buy the same game again ?
As you could deduct from the intro nothing is really new in Pacific Fighters despite more planes, more missions and a new setting. It’s like you’re playing IL-2 allover again, even the completely aged menu’s are back. Of course the die-hard fans know that only the gameplay is what counts, but when developers really don’t try to make the flight sim genre a bit more appealing for the mainstream audience, it’s only a matter of time before we only get to play arcade-flight games a la Crimson Skies and Secret Weapons over Normandy.
Also the graphical engine has remained the same over the last couple of years. That isn’t necessarily negative as IL-2 and Forgotten Battles had a rock solid engine that even know can still show beautiful wide surroundings and highly detailed airplane models on the screen. The many planes (Supermarine Seafire, Grumman F6F Hellcat and Vought F4-U Corsair just to name a few) are again exemplary made and the cockpits look fotorealistic, but of course we didn’t expect any less from 1C Maddox.
The game still plays like in a dream. With most realism-options enabled it seems like you’re flying a real WW2-crate. The planes act like a bitch, compared with modern day jetplanes. Every airplane lover will love this, but also the casual gamer will have his fun with the Easy mode (all difficulties like stalls and limited ammo off). You can even turn on invincibility. That you loose all challenge and the pure pleasure of flying is of course the natural result. The biggest satisfaction in PF comes when you take down your first enemy fighter, a moment to never forget.
The sound is also again well-done. The noise from growling ster- of line engines (with respectively the A6M Zeke/Zero and the P-51 Mustang) and the rattling of lead spitting 20mm cannons is overwhelming. Also the bullts hitting you from a fighter “on your six” is simply sublime. Not to talk about the excellent radio chatter.
Unfortunately the flaws from the old IL-2 remain as again there is no possible way to save your game during missions. At least some sort of checkpoint system should have been built in as, admit it, replaying a mission for the 5th time with autopilot enabled and Time Compression x8 during the flight to and from is everything but fun…
Pacific Fighters is simply the best WW2 flight sim ever. Fans may go to the game reseller with ease at heart to buy this game. With the current lacking of competition in this genre the choice is easy. Despite the total lack of innovation, the developers succeed in delivering a very realistic and easily playable simulation. But no all together : 1C MADDOX WE WANT A JET SIMULATION !