Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault Review

Check out our video review:

I’ve wanted to play Pacific Assault for a long time now. Mainly because it’s about the Pacific theater of World War II. I didn’t have a PC that could run it very well when it came out and I didn’t acquire a copy until I nabbed the Medal of Honor 10th Anniversary collection which includes not only Pacific Assault but Allied Assault, it’s expansions, and Airborne. The Pacific Assault in this collection is actually the Director’s Edition which features additional content. Developed and published by EA, Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault was released for PC in November, 2004. I played the GoG version and to get it running in widescreen, I would suggest you do what I did and check out the game’s PCGamingWiki page.
The story focuses on Private Thomas Conlin, a U.S. Marine. After boot camp, Thomas is present during the attack on Pearl Harbor and takes part in the defense. Afterward, he takes part in the Makin Atoll Raid before being deployed to Guadalcanal. And the final set of missions focus on his efforts during the Battle of Tarawa. Like most other Medal of Honor games, the story is just a way of letting players participate in historic World War II battles. Pacific Assault does feel very cinematic much like its predecessors. Tommy is always accompanied by other Marines and they do have names, personalities, and the voice acting is alright but I don’t think the game does a very good job at fleshing any of them out.

You play as Thomas Conlin and can walk, run, crouch, go prone, jump, aim down sights, lean left and right, and perform a melee attack. When you take damage, you lose health and you can acquire health from medkits found in the environments but they’re not located everywhere. If you turn on player bleeding, you can bleed from damage which means you slowly lose health and must apply a bandage to stop the bleeding. If you’re low on health, you can call for a Corpsman to come over and heal you. However, he can only heal you a certain amount of times per mission so you’ll want to be careful. You can pick up and carry injured friendly NPC’s, although the Corpsman will seek them out to help them on his own so it never really felt necessary unless an objective called for it. There is a squad command system in Pacific Assault but unfortunately it’s very simplistic, limited, and I think it’s easy to forget the feature exists. You can issue commands like cover fire, advance, fall back, and rally. However, you can only issue commands during combat and the game decides what commands are available to you and when. You don’t really have full control. The friendly AI is smart enough to deal with situations on their own so you don’t have babysit them which is not necessarily a bad thing but it would have been cool if the command system was more involved. You can actually turn the feature off if you want.
You carry two weapons, grenades, explosives, and binoculars. You can swap out the weapons you’re carrying with others found in the environments and enemies will drop weapons and ammo when killed. If you’ve played other World War II shooters, many of the weapons should be familiar. You will be engaging Japanese soldiers so you’ll get your hands on Japanese weaponry like the Arisaka Rifle and Type 100 SMG among some others. You’ll also get to use a lot of weapon emplacements like a .50 Cal machine gun, howitzers, mortars, and anti-aircraft weapons. There’s a lot of set pieces in the game and areas where you can use weapon emplacements to fend off enemies and shoot down Japanese planes and bombers. You’ll ride in a PT boat and shoot at enemy planes and at one point you’ll defend a ridge from waves of Japanese soldiers using multiple weapon emplacements. There’s a specific mission late in the game where you get to shoot at enemies from a plane before piloting the plane and using it to dogfight with enemies and destroy ground targets and a Japanese carrier and destroyer. It’s pretty cool stuff.
Pacific Assault is a very action-packed game. There’s no forced stealth sequences and there’s no walking around areas in a Japanese uniform and getting past enemies by flashing papers. You’re going to be shooting almost everywhere you go. Friendlies and enemies share some of the same basic behavior. They run around, shoot each other, throw grenades, take cover, and will use weapon emplacements. However, Japanese soldiers are prone to charging straight at you with their weapons and they will do this quite often. In fact, there are sequences where you have to repel waves of them. The AI for both friendlies and enemies is pretty standard stuff. Friendlies can get in your way which is annoying and the Japanese enemies don’t do anything super sophisticated. However, they do tend to blend in with the environments, making them hard to spot easily. You’ll traverse through a lot of jungle areas and there’s a good chance you’ll have no idea where enemy shots are coming from at first. This can become annoying, resulting in a lot of trial and error encounters. Japanese snipers will be in trees, Japanese soldiers will be firing at you from all directions and it’s hard to see them through all the foliage, and the next thing you know, enemy soldiers are charging at you from the sides. I do somewhat enjoy the encounters because the Japanese are designed to fight differently than the Germans from prior games but after a while, I got tired of walking into areas and losing health rapidly because I couldn’t see where the enemies were. There’s also a lot of areas where the Japanese soldiers will use machine gun emplacements to gun you down and it would be wise to always move slow and take your time otherwise you may find yourself quicksaving and quickloading often. There are multiple difficulty modes and the game can be quite challenging if you try to run into every situation without taking the proper precautions. You’ll want to stay with your squad since they do help to draw enemy fire away from you, they will alert you when grenades are thrown, and they’ll shout out when enemies begin charging.

You will be completing typical objectives you’ve probably experienced in other shooters. You’ll plant explosives, secure locations, defend areas, eliminate enemy patrols, and rescue NPC’s. There are hidden optional objectives you can complete like retrieving documents and they will require some exploration to find. Then there’s the hero moments which are also optional objectives. These include things like rescuing specific NPC’s, shooting down a Japanese plane chasing one of your buddies, eliminating a Japanese anti-aircraft crew before they shoot down a plane, and other heroic things. You’ll earn medals by completing objectives including hidden objectives so they do offer a form of replay value. Completing Hero Moments unlock pieces of equipment that can be viewed from the main menu. The game will take you to a good variety of locations including jungles, an airfield, villages, a river, swamp, ridge, and islands. At the time this released, I think the setting was a nice change of pace from the action experienced in the prior games, minus Rising Sun, which are all set in Europe. The environments are fairly linear and the compass on your HUD will point you to your primary objectives. Despite the environmental linearity, most combat areas are open so there’s plenty of ways to approach and flank enemies if you can get the jump on them and sometimes there are multiple paths you can take that lead to a destination but you’ll always be funneled in a specific direction. The game does include stat tracking and there’s a neat optional pop-up facts feature and if enabled, real historical facts will be presented to you as you play the game.

I think Pacific Assault was pretty a good-looking game in 2004. Many things look dated now but I think the environments still look fantastic. The trees and foliage look great and most things don’t look too bad when viewed from a distance. When you get close to things, you’ll notice blurry textures but for the most part, the visuals hold up. Character animations are a bit stiff but the reload animations look good. There’s a lot of neat little details in the game like birds that fly around, dead bodies floating in water, and you’ll notice the Corpsman vomit every now and then. The music is fantastic and really amplifies the cinematic feel of the game with orchestral scores that fit the action perfectly. Then there’s the sound effects which are okay. I think some weapons sound a bit weak but you will hear bullets flying past your head, explosions are loud, and you’re going to hear a lot of shouting and screaming. Everywhere you go sounds like a war zone. If you plan to run the game in a widescreen resolution, I will once again suggest you read over the game’s PCGamingWiki page. To set the correct field of view, you need a cracked/DRM-free executable and program to edit it. I used HXD. To get the field of view to register in-game, you’ll have to aim your weapon and the aiming does get a bit wonky when using sniper rifles. Pacific Assault is a somewhat buggy game. I witnessed deformed character models, objects getting stuck in mid-air, clipping, and NPC’s falling through the ground and getting stuck in the environments. But on the plus side, the frame rate was pretty solid throughout. I think I experienced a few stutters but nothing major.

I had fun with Pacific Assault and it does have that classic Medal of Honor charm and cinematic feel. I think the focus on the Pacific theater was a nice change of pace, especially at the time it released. A lot of media does focus on the European theater of World War II but we can’t forget that there was fighting going on in the Pacific. In the end, the gameplay in Pacific Assault is a lot of fun and fighting your way through the tropical environments is refreshing compared to the war-torn Europe locations in prior games. There is a good amount of replay value here thanks to the multiple difficulty modes, medals, and hidden objectives. Another possible reason to return would be the multiplayer component but I can’t really comment on it since I didn’t get a chance to try it. Despite the game’s positives, it is a bit buggy, some areas can be frustrating to get through, and the command system is very underutilized. It’s a shame that the command system is not fleshed out enough because I think it could have been a fantastic feature if implemented properly, possibly adding a more tactical element to the game.
Ultimately, I would recommend Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault to fans of the series, first-person shooters, and/or World War II games. It’s a very action-packed experience from beginning to end and I think it’s my favorite World War II shooter set in the Pacific. Although, Call of Duty: World at War was pretty good, too, from what I remember. In fact, besides World at War and Rising Sun, which I have yet to play, I don’t know of many others off the top of my head. Pacific Assault does have some downsides but the good outweighs the bad and there’s no issues that really break the experience. Allied Assault is still my favorite entry in the series but Pacific Assault is certainly one of the better Medal of Honor games and I would definitely suggest you check this out if you haven’t already.

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