Review by setpi

"Disappointing Eye Candy with Little Substance"

PTO IV - An Overview

PTO IV (Or Pacific Theatre Operation) is another franchise in KOEI's history simulation series. This series focus on the Pacific Theatre in WWII, in which US and Japanese forces engage each other from 1941 until 1945.

In this episode, the game gets a complete facelift, with a complete new 3D engine for the PS2 platform, and the players can choose to play either German, British, US, or Japanese forces in naval engagement accross the world.

A very good advantage of this game, is that if you read all the character bios, you'll learn alot about all the major naval engagements around the world during WWII which is easier to understand and more fun than any history book you can find ;)

Learning Curve: 2 hours and up, includes tutorial
Time to finish: Approximately 20 hours

GamePlay: 6/10
This game is a typical KOEI style game, with numerous menus to allow access to micromanagment commands. In this game, the player can choose to delegate certain aspects of the game, or either manage all the aspects of them. Nothing special to talk about here, and it might take a while to get to understand how the game works.

Game Mechanics: 3/10
The most disappointing part of PTO IV is a disappointment for strategic game bluff. PTO II was a model example in which how a game of this genre should be done. Though a turn based game, PTO II allows players to move their fleets anywhere, even deep in enemy territory unseen - even if the surrounding areas were owned by enemy. In PTO IV, the map is turned into complete blocks which means that the player cannot attack important port cities without conquering the block in the way first. As the game becomes more block - there is less freedom in strategy or planning deep in the enemy land strikes on weakly defended territories any more - which is a huge drawback on the game mechanics.

Also the army has been omitted in this game, making this game highly unrealistic. In conquering territory, the player has to use their fleet to attack the block and destroy all air bases. The utter lack of land base defense and army making conquering simplified and ulter realistic. If this game was a real historical simulation, then the Japanese forces that attacked Pearl Harbor should have conquered Pearl Harbor - and we can see this isn't the case ;)

These two flaws have seriously undermined the game mechanics of this series, though customizable warships, customizable planes, are still in the feature list.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics for this game is quite good, as opposed to most KOEI series. All the models in the game are completely redone in 3D - and quite distinct. We can observe the small differences in each of the models if we zoom in close making this game visually eyecandy. Its like having a fleet of model ships, and a hobby that alot of old generation boys would like :)

Otherwise the scenario maps are rather normal, graphics are the same bland KOEI style, though the character portraits are quite interesting.

The real 3D action scenes are quite interesting with fog, rain, thunderstorm, and other visuals, though it gets repetitive as most maps look like each other, and a complete lack of land elements such as cities which makes the maps somewhat bland. p.s. No Statue of Liberty when you invade NewYork :P

Sound/Music: 7/10
The music scores for the later series of Koei games are done in high quality. However this game a minor problem is that the music gets repetitive and boring. Too bad, they should have random between more tracks instead of treating us with a few theme for each of the side.

Overall: 5/10
Koei has a good history of making sequels interesting, but unfortunately this sequel doesn't make the grade. Though visually compelling, this game is just a shallow eye candy with little substance for stategic game bluffs - when compared with its predecessor, PTO II.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 06/13/04

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