Review: Pacific Liberator (Nintendo Wii)
by Ashe Collins on October 26, 2009

coverPacific Liberator
Developer: Team6 Game Studios
Publisher: Zoo Games, Inc.
Genre: Action
Release Date: 9/15/09

Looking at the cover for Pacific Liberator, I’m reminded of the old helicopter game for the SNES, Desert Strike. Unfortunately, that’s where the similarities end. Desert Strike was a half-way decent action game where you dealt death from above in your helicopter. Pacific Liberator tries to capture some of that, but falls short in many regards. Let’s take a look.

Story/Modes
The story is really basic, and by really basic I mean it’s in English and you can follow it. Some dictator, calling himself El Presidente has set up a compound among some Pacific islands and is slowly working to take them over and build up an army. So the good guys (you never know who you’re working for) send in ONE LONE HELICOPTER to take on El Presidente and his troops.

It gets a bit ridiculous as you’re sent up against submarines, a naval shipyard and even an aircraft carrier. The bounds of realism were completely thrown out the window for this one. If you ignore the bad English (yeah the grammar is bad enough even younger kids are going to go wha-huh?) you get the gist of what’s going on enough to slog your way through all 16 missions, that are far from breathtaking.

Basically if you’re not destroying every building on an island, you’re destroying the reinforcements in the form of jets sent to take you out. Take them out, move to the next island that looks vaguely like the last and destroy it all over again. Rinse, repeat. It’s a tough pill to swallow unfortunately.

Story/Modes Rating: Pretty Poor

screen001Graphics
I’d love to say this game rocks my socks off visually, but honestly, even for the Wii, this looks like a last gen title and even then a mediocre one. The buildings look bland and every one of them looks like the last. The draw distance is so bad that jets have to practically be on top of you before you can see them to fire on but by then they’ve usually shot past you. One tank looks just like any other, so the only way you know which one to go after first is the type of weapon they’re firing at you.

The HUD they have with the radar telling you where enemies are id fairly helpful, but it’s hindered by the fact you can’t see very far in detail from your actual helicopter to fire on those enemies. One level really does look just like the next. For all I know I was fighting on the same island through most of it, but they tell me I’d moved on to the next so really that’s all I had to go on. The only one that really looks different is towards the end when you’re taking on El Presidente, and even then it’s only because it has a big capitol building on it.

Then there are the cut-scenes. They flow fairly smoothly and are short, but you don’t actually have a pilot in your copter, which made me chuckle and shake my head every time the camera rotated around it. A bit more variety in the islands would have been nice. I can guarantee that no two islands in any ocean look almost exactly alike, especially from the air.

Graphics Rating: Decent

Sound
Honestly, there is no voice-acting in the game, just the sound of weapons-fire and music. The music isn’t bad, but it’s generic and it loops. You may as well put on the Airwolf theme and set it on repeat while you play. You’ll get the same effect. A little more oomph here would have been nice. Something, anything to spice up the experience a bit.

My dog was watching me play and even she got bored. Usually she pricks her ears up while I’m playing or looks around for the noise, but I got nothing out of her on this one. It needed a nice dose of awesome and it’s just not there.

Sound Rating: Below Average

screen002Control and Gameplay
The controls in this game aren’t terrible and they work for what you’re doing but they’re not very responsive and on the harder difficulty settings it can really screw you over. The nunchuk controls your forward, backward and side to side movement. It also serves to raise and lower your height depending on whether you pull up or tilt down. That was fine for the most part. Your turbo boost (if you can call it that) and heat-seeking rockets fire from the nunchuk buttons. Turning is done with the Wii remote, which would work better if you didn’t have to keep it pointed at the screen to spin. And even then it’s one of the slowest responding military helicopters I’ve ever seen.

The Wii remote also handles menus, your chain gun, and standard missiles. It’s a bit of an awkward set-up that I never got used to. Course it didn’t take me long to beat the game either. Gameplay is pretty straight forward and repetitive. You fly into an island’s airspace and complete objectives, whether it’s destroy all the buildings, destroy all the ground forces, take out the aircraft or take out the subs and transports. You’re always just blowing up something. There’s not much else to do in this. You also can dodge missiles but with the helicopters slow response time I wish you luck on that endeavor. You can regenerate health (not quite sure how a helicopter repairs itself mid-flight) by hovering and not taking hits, which is useful but not very realistic.

You’ll need that though after getting pummeled by a swarm of jets. The game also can’t make up its mind whether you’re going to have plenty of ammo or not as the game progresses. Some missions are harder just because they don’t give you enough missiles for what you’re doing. Taking out tankers and aircraft carriers with just your mini-gun is nigh impossible. It’s entirely random it seems how much ammo you’re stocked with before you lift off, and no, you don’t get an ammo refill.

Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre

screen003Replayability
There are three difficulty settings to get through on this, but no real kind of ranking system or anything like that based on how you did. Basically if you like torturing yourself you’ll pop it in on a higher difficulty, but really, once you’ve played this you’ll probably want to put something else in and soon to get the feel off your hands. I can’t see anyone playing this over again very often or at all after their first playthrough. If I wasn’t being thorough I honestly wouldn’t have played it past the easy setting and looked for something else. I mean I have Galaga on my Wii and I find that far more entertaining than this.

Replayability Rating: Poor

Balance
The game isn’t very well balanced. I mean yes it gets harder as you go, but the wayward controls don’t help and neither do the random ammo bumps. If you’re going to send me after a fleet of submarines and an aircraft carrier I’m going to need more missiles. Sorry, but that’s how it works. Then there’s the play time. Honestly, you’ve played through the whole game on all settings in just under three hours. That’s how long it took me.

This is a budget title at $20 and it shows. Good luck finding it anywhere though. I had to look to Amazon for a price as Gamestop doesn’t even seem to carry it. There are far better action titles out there for the Wii, and probably within the same price range that you’ll get more out of.

Balance Rating: Below Average

screen004Originality
There aren’t a ton of helicopter combat games out there, and really this isn’t one of them either. However there are other titles out there using the same idea, the lone gunman going in to take out the evil dictator. It’s like The Magnificent Seven or Seven Samurai only you’re alone against the waves of enemies. It’s a tale that’s been done to death, and with little or nothing to go on story wise it feels like a really low-budget summer action flick without any actors. And not a good one at that. Adding in some kind of characters or interactions may have helped that, but maybe I’m just looking for too much in a title these days.

Originality Rating: Bad

Addictiveness
Honestly, with a three hour play-through I can say I was not addicted to this. After beating it I haven’t picked it up again except for the purposes of this review and it will never enter my Wii again. You blow through this game so fast there’s no chance to get addicted to it. If it controlled a bit better I might have enjoyed it enough to slaughter them all again, but like a carnival ride when no one wants to get on again because it’s just not the same as the Magnum at Cedar Point, I’d have to pass.

Addictiveness Rating: Bad

screen005Appeal Factor
It’s a budget title, with a budget theme and budget controls. Honestly even at the price it’s at now I’d balk at picking this one up. Unless you’re really into helicopters, there’s not much here. And even then if you are into helicopters there’s even less here. I’d look for something more engaging and I’m thinking most people will look at this one and do the same.

Appeal Factor Rating: Poor

Miscellaneous
There’s a line from a movie I love, “Don’t eat the green ones, they’re not ripe yet.” This game feels like a bit more ambition and a bit more development and it could have been at least a fun title. As it is it feels ponderous and repetitive and boring. I wasn’t looking for a game of the year here, but it’s helicopter combat on the Wii. I should feel like I’m behind this thing blowing everything up and instead it felt like another chore around the house.

Gotta play the Wii game. I wasn’t expecting much when our editor-in-chief sent this one on to me, and it delivered even less than I thought it would. It’s like a bad movie on the SyFy channel on a Saturday. You know it’s terrible, but there’s nothing else on anyway, so why not torture yourself a bit.

Miscellaneous Rating: Prettty Poor

The Scores
Story/Modes Rating: Pretty Poor
Graphics Rating: Decent
Sound Rating: Below Average
Control and Gameplay Rating: Mediocre
Replayability Rating: Poor
Balance Rating: Below Average
Originality Rating: Bad
Addictiveness Rating: Bad
Appeal Factor Rating: Poor
Miscellaneous Rating: Pretty Poor
FINAL SCORE: POOR GAME

Short Attention Span Summary
asheresize Pacific Liberator is a poor attempt to capture what made the ho-hum Desert Strike so much fun back in the day. The controls aren’t responsive enough to make you feel like you’re flying a military-grade helicopter and the gameplay is repetitive and boring. The game falls under three hours and that’s if you play through all the difficulty settings. This is a one hour play-through. Seriously. If you’re looking for a good action title there are plenty out there that offer more than this one. I’d recommend one of those or digging out that old SNES before buying this one.




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