Island hopping fun - Order of Battle: Pacific first impressions

By Nik Gaukroger 01 May 2015 0

Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit and we’re much more aware of the European action in WW2, but the vast Pacific Theatre has never really been of much interest to me. However, that may all be about to change thanks to the release of Order of Battle: Pacific by Slitherine. With basic game mechanisms that are similar to games such as Panzer Corps it looks like it will be easy to pick up and play and so on that basis I set my sights on the Far East and fired up the game. Here are my initial impressions.

 

 

Better just say that these first impressions are mainly based on playing through the introduction/tutorial scenarios. I have not yet had time to delve into the main campaigns in the game. That said, the introduction scenarios are nicely done and cover the game pretty well as far as I can see. You certainly get to experience a variety of troops and situations.

So first up Order of Battle: Pacific definitely has a similar look and feel to Panzer Corps, and to be fair the developers are quite honest about this – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it applies. However, given the different subject matter – it’s the other side of the world from the European battlefields of Panzer Corps for a start – there is a definite difference. Not just the troops and units that are fighting across Pacific islands, but the look of the terrain (lots of wet bits) and the sound effects are all different and appropriate. All this makes Order of Battle feel a new game. Thankfully.

In play, as well as the obvious addition of the naval element to the warfare depicted, one big new mechanism is Supply. Land units that cannot trace a supply route of hexes back to a town or supply ship sitting next to a beach suffer movement and fighting penalties. So making sure your units are in supply and trying to cut the enemy off from theirs, becomes a significant part of the game. Even in the introduction scenarios on one of the easier difficulty settings the AI can cut your supply lines which bodes well for the main campaigns and higher difficulty levels, as well as for replayability.

 

 

 

The naval part of the game includes a number of options that the player has to choose to deploy rather than happening automatically, such as sonar search for subs and ship to ship torpedo attacks (the default is naval gunfire). The naval game has a real (authentic) hide and seek nature at times. Radar can show you that there is an enemy ship out there, however, it won’t tell you what that ship is – you have to get closer to see that (spotter planes can help here).

 

 

 

 

In terms of style of game Order of Battle is not a massively in depth military simulation type game – and that suits me fine as it isn’t the sort of game I am after. However, neither is it a light fluffy game with only a passing nod to history. What we have here is a game with a good balance between historical detail and well paced playability. So for example when you send up your carrier’s aircraft to fight you do not have to set their attitude or attack tactics, that is also abstracted by the game. This means you concentrate on the battle tactics and the game moves at a good pace. If setting attack altitude and the like is your thing, look elsewhere.

The game is playable in single player mode against the AI and has 5 different difficulty settings. Multiplayer is also available in either hotseat mode or using the Slitherine PBEM++ facility.

In single player there is a tutorial/introduction “campaign” of 4 scenarios which takes you through the various types of warfare you will encounter in the game. So you get land and naval scenarios as well as a couple that involve amphibious invasion – the meat and drink of the war in the Pacific.

Then there are the two main campaigns where you can play as either Imperial Japan or the US led allies. These are based around historical actions although there is also a “what if” invasion of Australia which I am looking forward to having a bash at.

 

 

 

Even though I've only played the introductory scenarios so far, I can honestly say that I am already having great fun with this game and can definitely recommend that you give it a go. I have encountered no stability issues or obvious bugs, and it runs perfectly well on my quite modest and quite old PC. If I were to summarise where this game sits I would say it has taken the winning parts of Panzer Corps and added to them in depth and detail whilst retaining enjoyable playability.

It is currently on a 10% off initial release offer that runs until 7th May – why wait for the price to go up?

 

 

Also have a look at this gameplay video which has been made available to us by Slitherine.

 

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