Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers

Air Conflicts: Pacific Carriers

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fightin6 Aug 6, 2013 @ 2:57am
Reversed aircraft carriers
Well, I soldiered through the ridiculously dull pearl harbor mission. Just so we're clear: the enemy aircraft don't actually seem to know that you exist. They fly around in their little preprogrammed circles until you decide to shoot them. Once you get a feel for the lousy control interface (ether joystick or mouse are aweful), you shoot them down. Bad voice actors say bad voice-actory type things.

Ok, so I got through that mission and started the next 'patrol' mission. On real patrols, you are basically given at least a general vector to search ("pastrol to the northeast.") Here, you basically are told to take off from a carrier and search where you will while a timer counts down for no particular reason. Ok, fine, whatever. Anyway, this gave me a little time to explore the carrier itself. Can somebody explain the ridiculously stupid error why the carrier (nominally CV-6 enterprise) is a mirror image of itself? The island superstructure is on the wrong side. How such an error got by.. just comedy.

This game continues to be a pitiful joke. Which is a shame, since the pervious title in the 'air conflicts' series, 'air conflicts: secret wars' was an underrated classic with a (for the genre) superb plot, outstanding voice acting, and excellent gameplay.
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fightin6 Aug 6, 2013 @ 8:33am 
More reaosns why this game is ridiculously bad*

(* note: my opinion is that it is terrible - if you like it, more power to you and I'm glad you do. you are welcome to post your own reviews of why you like it).

The following opinions are formed from having made it now halfway through the wake island mission.

So, where to begin:

1. The voice acting is TERRIBLE. Even by terrible video game standards, it is terrible. It's not even "cheesy-funny".. it's just awful.
2. The lines the actors read is terrible. "That's a bomb hit!" being far from the worst, but typical.
3. Anachronisms galoe. Naval uniforms 30 years out of date, terminology and slang ridiculosly out of date.
4. historical cluelessness - so, on the wake island mission, you are attacking wake island from carriers. and yet, this certainly didnt happen before coral sea.
5. the japanese apparently had sherman tanks.
6. technical cluelessness - the USS enterprise aircraft carrier is reversed, with the island on teh wrong side
7. UI idiocy. in the upper right of your screen, you have a plan view of your aircraft (top view). you'd expect to see there the varios weaspons on your plane, and the ones you have active to be highlighted. so, for example, if you have 500 lb bombs and 100 lb bombs, you eepxect to see the 500 lb bombs highlighted and the 100 lb bombs inactive when you have the 500 lb bombs selected. but no, you just see one armament at a time, meaning thatyou have to cycle through them (and remember, you control up to about 10 aircraft or so at a time, so this is not a natural thing) to see what you have left. why did they do this? because it's easier to program.
8. you can bomb the hell out of a hangar with 500 pound bombs, but the plane intside that hangar still has to be seperately strafed because, you know, when you bomb the hell out off a hangar you only kill the outside while whatever is inside is still safe and snug.
9. an idiotic and irrelevant weapons selection screen.
10. terrible flight models. ok, i'm kind of willnig to let this go given the nature of this game, though its worse than most since the control setup leads to PIO and overcontrol. You can gt used to it, but it's quite bad.
11. too large aircraft models make dogfighting a dumb joke.
12. however, it's not really dogfighting. it's more like if you feel like attacking an enemy that will otherwise fly around waiting for you to attack it.
13. stall modelling is terrible because there is little to no aural indication of airspeed/engine speed. the stall flight dynamics are comically bad.
14. did i mention the voice acting is terrible (and i havent even heard the japanese yet).
15. in the wake island mission you literally have to strafe individual japanese soldiers who will stand there waiting to be strafed
16. in the wake island mission you can drop bombs on the POW camp at will because lord knows there is no harm of hitting your own guys.
17. as 'sceneery' the japanese seem to have these deuce and a half type american trucks milling about for no reason.
18. wake island looks nothing like it looks in real life.
19. certain ground items are bombable only from certani approach angles due to poor explosion physics modelling.
20. apparently somehow the japanese navy got twin engined aircraft (the IJN for the most part never operated twins. the IJAAF/IJA did, but .. well.. im not going to explain it. anyawy, the point is tha the designers chose to just ignore history entirely.
21. the voice acting and script are pitifully bad.
22. ships blow up with napalm-like explosions.
23. in some missions, your task force just sits there, umoving. so, your aircraft carrier is just sitting there like ducks on a pond.
24. there are enemy ships which you can see, but bombing them is irrelevant.
25. in trouble? getting shot at? just switch airplanes and the in trouble airplane will be ok, mostly.
26. object collision errors and issues galore.

oh there's more.. a lot more.. but i've run out of steam for now. going to do some work now and then back to the game as i'm perversely enjoying watching just how bad of a train wreck this is.

as i said, if you want a good game in this genre, there are seveal others, not the least of which is the very good indeed "air conflicts, secret wars" which has a superb plot and voice acting for this genre.

and if you like thsi pacific carriers game, good! im happy. my point is not to ruin your fun, but to give other purchasrs my honest opinion.

OZZY Aug 6, 2013 @ 11:56am 
Keep trying, maybe you can get good enough to present a worthy target for me to shoot down.
Last edited by OZZY; Aug 6, 2013 @ 11:57am
OZZY Aug 6, 2013 @ 12:18pm 
You have only played less than three hours. Many of us have hundreds.
Last edited by OZZY; Aug 6, 2013 @ 1:10pm
fightin6 Aug 6, 2013 @ 3:57pm 
Originally posted by terryparker1952:
You have only played less than three hours. Many of us have hundreds.

congratulations! hundreds of hours on a crap game. you are winnar!
OZZY Aug 6, 2013 @ 5:13pm 
I don`t play the game. Go multi player and see who wins.
Mikeedude Aug 10, 2013 @ 9:14am 
My only real bugbear is the AI, they are all kamikaze pilots including the british and allied fliers.
As soon as you hit an enemy plane ,their response is too head straight at you, without firing.

I have lost no planes to dogfights but dozens to suicidal enemies.

Its a shame as i liked the original apart from the taking on the whole luftwaffe with one plane
Last edited by Mikeedude; Aug 10, 2013 @ 9:14am
Hairy Goober Aug 12, 2013 @ 11:28am 
Originally posted by {MERC.29} Mikeedude:
My only real bugbear is the AI, they are all kamikaze pilots including the british and allied fliers.
As soon as you hit an enemy plane ,their response is too head straight at you, without firing.

I have lost no planes to dogfights but dozens to suicidal enemies.

Its a shame as i liked the original apart from the taking on the whole luftwaffe with one plane
You can actually use their kamikaze tendencies to an advantage by skimming along the wavetops, 9 times out of 10 at least two planes will simply slam into the water because they seem to think it won't hurt them :D

But yeah, after Secret Wars the shortcomings in Pacific Carriers have been a surprise. Hate it when a dev ruins a tried and true format to try something new and faulty :D
King Louie Aug 20, 2013 @ 11:50pm 
fightin6 its an arcade game man, not a simulator.Take a valume. If you look at your radar it gives you a direction to search, its not 'search where you will'. Perhaps the idea of the timer is act like a fuel load for the search, hell I dunno, use your imagination. There are other flight games available if you want more of a realistic challenge. Understanding what kind of game it is and isnt will help with your heart burn in the future.
fightin6 Aug 22, 2013 @ 12:28am 
Take a "valume", eh, muppet? I know exactly what kind of game this is - it's crap game much worse than its much better counterparts in the genre, from damage inc to the superb 'aces over..' series to 'secret wars' to dogfight 1942. its even much worse than super budget title "combat wings battle of britain."

there are *some* nice things about this game - for example, the burning ships look EXTREMELY realistic. but the gameplay is effing awful, the controls are effing awful, the historical accuracy is effing awful, the tactics are awful, the voice acting and script are so far beyond awful that they havent invented the term to describe their awfulness.

This is one of the worst, if not the single worst game in the genre.
Now, hang on there, fightin6! I happen to have been the lead designer on Combat Wings: Battle of Britain, as well as the creative director on its recent sequel, Dogfight 1942, so I think I can speak from a position of relative authority here: you have this figured out completely wrong.

These games aren't even comparable, because the direction we pursued on Battle of Britain and Dogfight 1942 is completely different to Pacific Carriers. With Secret Wars, there was definitely a comparison to be made, but not with Pacific Carriers.

You talk about the voice acting and script being awful in Pacific Carriers. Well, yes, I think I could say without any arrogance that our games did better in this regard. But the story and voice acting were one of the focus points of our games (and even so, most reviews seem to agree that even within our limited budget, we could have done better). Pacific Carriers is not about story at all - the story is just there for background, and the voice acting is equally utilitarian. Even so, in truth, the voice acting is frequently better than in many other air combat games - its main flaw lies in the fact that it's so limited, you have exactly one voice representing all American pilots, and one voice representing all Japanese pilots.

You complain about historical accuracy. Hey, yeah, the mirrored carriers are a funny bug - not that anyone really cares about that, because it's just such a trivial issue. And yeah, the aircraft stats are completely inaccurate - they're balanced towards gameplay, and aren't intended to reflect reality. And the events? Obviously, many of the missions are fictional, and many historical events are fictionalised here for gameplay purposes. I don't think this can really be a problem, because it's normal. This is a game, not a documentary. Even so, I think historical accuracy as actually one of the aspects in which the game really shines - when you get to the really big battles of the war, Midway, the Coral Sea, and so on, the experience feels very authentic. You know that the exact events, the timing, the number of ships and planes involved are all different to reality, but they *feel* right, because of how the gameplay was handled.

You complain about the gameplay. Well, if you like all those other story-oriented games you named, then that's not surprising. Yes, the gameplay in Pacific Carriers is very different, and you certainly have a right to dislike it. There's no point arguing over this, because it's a matter of taste, but let me explain why I think Pacific Carriers did a really great job on gameplay.

All previous arcade air combat titles, whether it's Secret Wars or Dogfight 1942, have essentially the same game balance at their core: the player is well-nigh invulnerable, while enemy planes drop like flies. Consequently, the gameplay sooner or later comes down to a grindfest - we designers throw scores of enemy planes at the player to wear him out. Dogfight 1942 actually tried to do something different in this regard, but unfortunately various issues in development forced us to backtrack - the damage system in Dogfight 1942 is one of the things I'm least pleased with in the game. So, in the end, you always have the same problem, missions become over-long and over-intensive, as that is really the only way we can put the player in danger.

One way to solve this would be simply to make failure acceptable. You know, like the Wing Commander games used to - you could fail a mission, you could eject, and the game would still let you continue (albeit taking your defeat into account). With this kind of mechanic, we did not need to make the player over-powerful - he could be just as vulnerable as the enemy, and the gameplay was much more intense because of it (and the missions did not have to be so arduously long). I tried to go in this direction with Combat Wings: Battle of Britain, but ran into the wall of budget concerns. This approach only works well if you can afford to have proper mission branching, so that when the player fails a mission, he is punished by going down a different story branch. Battle of Britain let you fail many missions, and we did have some little bits of branching, but there wasn't anywhere near enough of it (also, you couldn't bail out, which was a serious limitation as well).

What Pacific Carriers does - and in my opinion, does very well - is explore an alternative approach to gameplay. The simple fact of the player having several planes in his squadron, and being able to switch to the next plane after losing a pilot, has huge implications for gameplay. In Pacific Carriers, the player is far from invulnerable. Yeah, the aircraft AI isn't fantastic, they do tend to kill-by-kamikaze a little too often - it's far from perfect, just as any game developed on a small budget will inevitably be. But: they can kill you. During torpedo runs, when you're trying to hold as steady as you can, a swarm of enemy fighters will give you a very bad day. And the flak! Good grief, compare our inane Battle of Midway mission in Dogfight 1942 with the experience you get in Pacific Carrier. Night and day, man, night and day - Pacific Carriers wins hands down, because flak severely hurts the player, and makes torpedo runs absolutely hair-raising. But all this comes down to the fact that squadron-based mechanics allowed Games Farm to simply let the player have the exact same amount of health as the AI does. He's not in any way more powerful, his only advantage is that if he dies, he can switch to another plane. At Midway, you don't worry about whether your plane still has enough health to sink another three carriers all by yourself - instead, you look around, and you worry whether you still have enough aircraft to handle the rest of the job, and you bite off your nails every time one of your planes drops to the ground. What an experience!

Take it from someone who makes these games for a living, and who cares enough to write a wall-of-text post about them :). Pacific Carriers is very good at what it set out to do. Yes, it is a completely different experience to other games in the genre, even to its direct predecessor, but that's precisely because it wanted to be different. If you compare it directly to Secret Wars - well, goodness, you're right. As a sequel to Secret Wars, Pacific Carries is awful. But that's precisely the one thing Pacific Carriers is not. Rather than doing more of the same, Games Farm decided to try something genuinely innovative, and for all the little problems and limitations that Pacific Carriers has, I think they did a very good job, and managed to put out a genuinely interesting air combat game that all fans of the genre need to play. Not everyone will like it - but everyone should play it.
King Louie Aug 22, 2013 @ 9:40am 
Originally posted by fightin6:
This is one of the worst, if not the single worst game in the genre.

And yet you return to the discussions to moan about the game. All I was saying is calm down in a nice way, and you resort to name calling.

Albeit a muppet is the sweetest thing iv'e been called in years. Why is vitriol so prevelent in your review ? You could say the same things without it looking like you are throwing a temper tantrum.
Last edited by King Louie; Aug 22, 2013 @ 10:13am
fightin6 Aug 24, 2013 @ 2:50am 
Hi Jakub,

Thanks for taking the time to write a thoughtful message. It is really appreciated.

I agree, the flak in Pacific Carreirs is impressive, if you completely discount the fact that the ranges that the flak can fire at are completely unrealistic (though this is a little known historical fact) and also understand that it is trivial to "juke" away from it at any times.

I agree that the "multiple planes" angle is interesting and to some degree unique in the genre, and I give them full marks for trying. however, the result was poor because it leads to situations so completely at odds with common sense, such as dive bomers or torpedo planes attacking ships one by one instead of together.

if the reversed carrier is a "bug that nobody cares about"? (REALLY?), what can you say for a game that strives for something approaching realism that sends dive bombes to take out enemy fighters ahead of sending in fighters to take out ground targets on the wake mission? honestly, somebody was totally asleep.

i wish i could give marks for 'trying.' but, unfortunately, its' the end result that matters, and, honestly, all of the historical, tactical, graphics, sound, speech, etc howlers would be overlookable if the basic flying and weapons controls and experience were any good. this, i guess, is what allows me to overlook them in other games (such as ones where one hellcat will kill 400 japanese in a mission). but, unfortunately, i can't.

"torpedo runs hair raising?" maybe they would have been, if i could sense where i was in relation to the water, if the airplane in any way obeyed understandable laws of physics, etc.

now, full disclosure here: I run a small/mediums sized softawre company with about 30 developers and we also do end-user software. (i'm also a real-world pilot with 4000+ hours in over 40 aircraft types, including several aerobatic ones and some warbird trainers) after more than a decade, i can tell when a programmer really cares about a project and when they are just "mailing it in." the finish of "pacific carriers" has "mailed it in" written all over it in several places (though NOT whoever did the ship burning and similar effects - again - top marks there). many of the issues are so obvious and so easily fixable, it just staggers the imagination. maybe the game got pushed out the door too soon because of business issues, since it's less than 2 months of tweaks from potentially being acceptable.

and you're right - as a fan of the genre, i did go out of my way to play it, and because i am a fan of the genre (basically one where i can take a half hour break at work and play without having to set up joysticks, etc), i am making my voice known.

ok - now one last thing: there is a game which did what maybe PC tried to do, and did it very very very well, even though the flight models were poor for dogfighting, they were excellent for torpedo runs - a nice mix between arcade action, group control, and sensible tactics: that's Battlestations: Midway. But that game had outstanding overall usability in general, and was one of the most unappreciated games ever.

combat wings battle of britain i accepted what it was: a budget title that nevertheless had pretty good playability. i am perfectly satisfied with it for what it was.. a satisfying little "snack" in between games with bigger budgets. well done!

incidentally, i admit to playing now a little "war thunder", which is pretty good, though not great, at least in the 'arcade' mode that i and most players play at because the control system needs work, as does the flight physics.

thanks for taking the time to write and thank you for creating some great games! I look forward to the next one.

King Louie Aug 25, 2013 @ 2:43pm 
I will try to mke my post thoughtful enough to suit you.

Originally posted by fightin6:

if the reversed carrier is a "bug that nobody cares about"? (REALLY?), what can you say for a game that strives for something approaching realism that sends dive bombes to take out enemy fighters ahead of sending in fighters to take out ground targets on the wake mission? honestly, somebody was totally asleep.

The above quote is an example of what I meant by my post about understanding what kind of game this is. It is an Arcade game not a Simulator. As an acrade game I do not and never will look to one for my realistic fix. None of them ever are. Your are all upset over what is for all intent and purposes a cartoon that you interact with. It is a console game you play on a PC. If you look to this kind of content for realism you will never find it. For me there is no such thing as part real. It is either real (full sim) or not real (arcade).

This is far from a Simulator. I dont give a hoot if they send me out in a Dive Bomber without fighter cover. I dont care if the Island super structure is on the port side instead of starboard. I did not get fooled by this game.

I understood EXACLTY what it was before buying it and as such not at all disapointed with it. I never figured id have to maintain supurb SA or know my AGL, or set my prop pitch and fuel mix to get right in the power band.

This game gives you a helper , a target to shoot at that calculates your deflection and you complain about the realism of the carrier or the order of battle. You are not required to manage anything but ammo. And you complain about the physics. What I dont understand is why. If the physics where improved to your standard there is nothing the game does that requires you to need them. Its not as if you can do complex manuvers in this game, or have the need to do anything more than a split S if that. Even the torpedo runs dont require any understanding of flight, just make sure the plane in the HUD is white and below the top line and voila you dropped your payload. It isnt rocket science and you dont need a Phd. in aerodynamics to do it.

I cannot say it enough. Its an arcade game man. It is for fun not serious flying. Want to fly serious get into some IL-2 with the SAS ultra and go full switch, relying on your visual abilities, actual flight skills and instruments only , manage every little detail from radiator,fuel mix, to supercharger stage per altitude, understanding the flight envelope of your crate and being able to visually ID your enemey and understand its flight evelope,etc.etc.etc.

None of those things are ever needed in an arcade flight game, If they were then maybe I might give a damn if they send me out in a dive bomber first or on what side the superstructure is. I dont because I understood this was not the kind of game where that stuff mattered at all. I knew it would not be a technically or historically accurate game at the outset....its an Arcade game.

p.s. When I called it a console game you play on the PC , I was being facetious.
Last edited by King Louie; Aug 25, 2013 @ 3:42pm
willi Aug 25, 2013 @ 7:49pm 
When I finished playing Secret Wars, I was really looking forward to play the (maybe even better?) sequel. And when I started the "training" in Pacific Carriers: oh sh..., this can't be right...
I nearly played it through now; hated it some and enjoyed it some more for divers reasons, but what I really almost like best is this conversation I stumbled upon while looking for help, which gave me some ahas and ohwows and a lot to agree on both sides.
Thanks :)

Now we are really talking - and I mean that literally, because your previous posts weren't especially conversational :).

Let me start off by pointing out something that so often gets lost to us enthusiasts, whether we are game players or game makers. We care for very specific details, which ultimately very few other people notice. I say this especially in regards to those reversed carriers. You noticed. I noticed (...but only after it was pointed out to me). A bunch of other people noticed. Most people did not notice, and had they been told about it, they would have shrugged it off. After all, what's the real difference? The ship still looks exactly the same, it's just that the tower is on the other side. It has no impact on anything, other than rankling a few enthusiasts. You could make the argument that it would have served to highlight the difference between Japanese and American carriers, but really, the differences were significant enough in any case. For the record, there are much "worse" sins than this - for instance, a wealth of different destroyer and cruiser classes are represented by just one or two models. A quick check on the Wikipedia reveals that the US had no less than 18 classes of destroyers during WWII. Some of these would simply have been reserve ships, some were only used in the Atlantic for convoy escorts, but you still would have had several destroyer classes in the Pacific. All of these are represented by a single model of the Fletcher class. This is far worse than having a carrier model mirrored by accident, but you know - ultimately, it's still perfectly acceptable, because destroyers are not so big that you would be able to spot the differences in flight. From a developer's perspective, it's better to concentrate your resources on something more important to the game. I imagine that Games Farm could have done a better job with the ship models, had they sacrificed the aircraft cockpits. Would that have made a better game? I wouldn't say so, though certainly many people out there don't ever use cockpits.

It is similar with many of the historical issues you point out in the missions. Well, actually, the US Navy did occasionally attempt to use dive bombers against fighters, because it was erronously thought (sometimes!) that if you can't send fighters, then dive bombers are almost as good. But that's besides the point. Obviously, the Wake Island missions you pointed to were inaccurate. I do not know why this was done, and in all honesty, I don't even recall the details of those early missions, as I'd played them almost a year ago. What I do know is that while there's a lot of liberty taken with the less important battles (and let's face it - again, with the exception of a few enthusiasts, no one cares if you're bombing Wake or Kwajalein), the really important battles are often fantastically authentic. Did you get as far as the Battle of Midway? Because I think that one battle is enough to justify the price of admission. And undoubtedly, it's still not realistic (never mind that it's only in the last decade or two that our knowledge of what actually went on at Midway was completely flipped upside down and inside out), but it's authentic.

I keep using that word, so let me explain what it means to me, as a game developer - "authentic" is when a gaming experience feels correct to the average user, so that it fits his perception of what something is like. Authentic is not the same as realistic, because our image of war is vastly different to reality. Authentic is more important than realistic, because no one wants reality. For instance, if the average mission in Pacific Carriers were to take three hours of flight in one direction, two minutes of combat, and three hours of flight back to the carrier, that would be realistic, but it would not be fun. A fifteen minute-long mission is not realistic, but it is fun and still feels authentic.

Now, in regards to how this game was done. You suggest that this has that "mailed it in" feeling all over. This is a problem of perception. I do not know how successful your company is, what kind of budgets and schedules you have for your software, and most importantly, whether you deal directly with customers or with a publisher. All I know is the reality on the ground, and believe me, it ain't pretty. Air combat games are a tiny, tiny niche - and it's really amazing that Games Farm has managed to make a successful living out of this niche. It's not a great living, either - air combat games are not big sellers, and it's very, very hard to persuade a publisher to give you more money for your next project. More often than not, it's actually the reverse - costs go up, but the budget shrinks. Anyway, what's my point? Well, I've chatted to the guys from Games Farm on several occasions, and believe me, they're doing their best - but their resources and schedules are stretched to breaking point every time. The "mailed it in" feeling you get comes not from their unwillingness to put the extra effort into the game, but from their inabiity to go beyond the physically possible. That's not to say they couldn't do a better job, but having some idea about the size of their team and of the budgets they work with, it's clear to me that they really do put a lot of energy into their projects as it is.

Thanks for the kind words, by the way. I'm afraid I don't see myself working on any air combat games in the immediate future. I do love the genre, but for the time being, there isn't really much in terms of funding opportunities, and besides that, I'm currently focussed on other things. But if you ever want to invest a couple of hundred thousand dollars into a great and entertaining air combat game, let me know ;).
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