Heroes of the Pacific

By Scott Parrino 08 Jun 2004 0

Introduction

The action-end of the flight simulation genre is a difficult market.  Designed to allow casual gamers to enjoy flying authentic, historical aircraft without all the complexities of highly detailed and eccentric flight models like those found in IL-2 Sturmovik and Lock On.  Those games have their devoted fans and can be successful, but it's the action or arcade genre which has proven to be particularly difficult.  Last year's Secret Weapons Over Normandy found success as a platformer, and while there have been other entries as strictly console sims (Ace Combat being one), the pickings have remained quite slim.

Into this breach steps Encore's new Heroes of the Pacific, a flight combat game set in the Pacific Theater which boasts attractive-looking battle locales and authentic aircraft from that time.  But the real selling point may be the game's promise to create massively chaotic dogfights with up to 300 planes in the air.  We spoke to Ben Palmer, executive producer and director of development, and Justin Halliday, game producer, to learn more about this new entry in the flight sim genre.

The Interview

The Wargamer (WG): Please tell us a little about Heroes of the Pacific

Ben Palmer: Heroes of the Pacific is an arcade flight combat game with a little strategy thrown in for good measure. What is unique about Heroes is that we can have up to 300 planes active at any moment, so we can recreate some of the bigger battles of WWII as they happened. You fight with a lot of wingmen (sometimes over 100) so you feel part of a large team.

It?s pretty amazing to see your first really big formation of planes (friendly or otherwise).

WG: What was the source of inspiration for creating a World War II-themed flight combat game?

Ben Palmer: Our ultimate goal is to deliver a great dogfighting game; after looking at modern aircraft warfare, it seemed to us that firing missiles targets miles away was a bit uninspiring. We wanted to get up close and personal. WWII was really the last time we saw true one-on-one dogfights, so it made for a logical backdrop for Heroes of the Pacific.

WG: Heroes of the Pacific will offer 25 flyable types of aircraft. Were there any that you wanted to include that you couldn?t? Why?

Justin Halliday: There are always planes that you want to put in, but can?t. We had a huge discussion where we culled a list of fifty or so potential planes down to a list of twenty-five. Those are the ones being built for the game. 

A discussion like that is great fun because everyone has their pet planes that have to be in the game. In the end I think that we came up with a pretty good list that included most of the best planes from the war, plus a few special planes for multiplayer matchups.

A few of the planes that just missed the cut include the Mosquito, the Harpoon, and some of the later Japanese fighters like the Hien (Tony) and the Hayabusa (Oscar).

WG: What kind of fun vs. realism choices did you have to make and can you describe some examples?

Ben Palmer: Ultimately the game is about fun, so we were always leaning in that direction. However, we have tried to remain real and historically accurate where possible. For example we offer the player different levels of realism in the flight model, but we also provide some target tracking info in screen. Tracking isn?t strictly real, but does greatly aid enemy pursuits and hence increases the fun.

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