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Strategic Mind: The Pacific Review

Strategic Mind: The Pacific Review

Strategic Mind: The Pacific Review

As a long time-gamer, I have played my fair share of games across all genres. One of my favorite genres of gaming is turn-based strategy titles. As a history buff, if a game includes historical significance, it only makes me more inclined to play. It seems that it was my luck to land upon Strategic Mind: The Pacific, since it fits the description.

Strategic Mind: The Pacific takes place during the World War II era following the Pacific campaign from the point of view of both the United States and Japanese forces. This game was released previously on the PC back in 2019 so this review will focus on the Xbox portion of the game. In my review, I will give the good, the bad, and my final verdict!

The Good

The Gameplay

When looking at the good I need to first talk about the gameplay. Overall, this game does a great job giving the player an authentic strategy-based game that prioritizes the historical-based vehicles, weapons, and strategies that were engulfed in World War II. Each vehicle has its own benefits and drawbacks, and it is up to the player to determine which unit to use to maximize the situation. When choosing your next move, you must be aware of the different weapons and moves that are possible for each unit before your turn ends. Whether you are using the battleships to mow down incoming landing parties or hell cats to initiate a dogfight, the varying moves were much needed in this game, and it made the gameplay experience better. 

In the aftermath of an operation, you have a chance to use your command points to upgrade your unit’s abilities or strengthen the current moves they have. This really gives the player the ability to come up with multiple means of attack and it opens up the replay-ability for future playthroughs. I believe the gameplay is the biggest positive.

Artstyle

Another positive I saw was that the game’s art style, mainly the music and story direction, were exactly what you would expect in a World War II game. I felt one of the best things about this game was the fact you would be following a path that you, as the player, get to choose. Whether you are following the standpoint of the United States or the Empire of Japan, you lead an operation against your enemy in historically accurate battles.

As a fan of history, I really thought the attention to detail in the vehicles was very well done and it helped the experience. The music of the game was surprisingly good as well. I felt the first cutscene was more intense due to the music because it set the stage for the time period. The in-game matches also received a much-needed touch of music. A strategy game that did not include any good tracks only makes it seem longer. The music, vehicles, and general direction of the story were great additions.

The Bad

The Animations

With the good, we also need to talk about the bad. This game unfortunately feels that the port to the Xbox console had difficulty with animations throughout the cutscenes of the game. Throughout my playthrough, any time there were cutscenes between major characters there were major issues with the voices matching the lips movement.

The general animations felt clunky and awkward, and it kind of hurt the realism that we saw in the gameplay and art style that was set up well. On the PC port of the game, they may have had an easier time fixing these issues but on the Xbox port, it was too rough to not notice.  In my opinion, this game would have done itself a favor by using still images that are historically accurate instead of using animations because there were times that the latter hurt the experience.

Pacing

Along with animations, the writing for the scenes and in-game lines seemed to be drawn out and, at times, very cringy. There seemed to be several awkward pauses throughout which did not flow well during long monologues. These lines added to the drawn-out pacing which made cut scenes seem more like a chore. In the first major scene of the game, it took around 17 minutes of cutscenes and dialogue before the player ever entered the action. For any game, it would not be good pacing to have the player wait this long to get into their first operation.

The writing also seemed to be bland for major characters. The attempts to give them enthusiasm was more of a detriment to the game, rather than amplifying it. To really enjoy this game, I feel that writing larger cutscenes did the exact opposite compared to what developers wanted. Let the gameplay be what the player is doing more often.

Ease of Access

Lastly, the ease of access to this game definitely needs work. I have not played a Strategic Mind game in the past, so when going into this review I was going in blind. This game did not do any favors for me or any new players looking to try this game for the first time. In the opening mission after a long cutscene, you are thrown into the conflict with no clue on what is the next goal for your units.

It seems to be expected that you will learn on the fly and most gamers, would be lost in the process of what to do. Even being an experienced gamer, I felt that it was a struggle in the beginning just trying to understand the dos and don’ts of the game. No tutorial on what different types of units you have or even learning the basic function of attacking different enemy groups. A large-scale strategy game needs more time devoted to the basics before being sent out on an operation.

Final Verdict

Summary

Overall, Strategic Mind: The Pacific has a few positives and negatives. The gameplay seems to be the biggest positive of this title, due to the fluid movement and the many ways to combat other forces. The varying ways to strategize against your enemy using upgrades to real historical vehicles and weapons was a blast. The attention to detail in the art style bringing in historically accurate vehicles as well as a good soundtrack made the atmosphere feel like an epic war.

However, the negatives seem to outweigh the positives. Too many cutscenes cause the pacing to feel drawn out and bland. The best part of the game is the gameplay, but it seems that most of the time you are watching animations that are not polished more often than playing the game itself. On the Xbox port of this game, it seems that some basic movements and character models looked incomplete. The ease of access seems to be limited to those that have played this series before and there needs to be more done to help new players feel as if they can jump into the game.

Rating

I’m giving this game a 5 out of 10. Strategic Mind: The Pacific has the potential to be a good strategy game at its core but the pacing of the game, broken animations, and lack of ease of access really hurt the Xbox port of the title. With future updates, I’m sure the port will get better in time but in its current state, there are a lot of things that need to be adjusted.

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