iPad Game Review: Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies for iOS (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies is the excellent follow-up game to Sid Meier's Ace Patrol. It is a turn-based, aerial dogfighting game in a WWII setting.
Like its predecessor, Pacific Skies skips the cockpit setting, and places you in an isometric overhead view of the battlefield. This is not a flight simulator, nor is it an arcade game. This is a turn-based tactical strategy game where you are given direct control of each plane in your squadron. At the beginning of each turn, you will see all of the options available to your planes (one at a time) in the form of arrows, some of which will be banking left or right, some will be diving, some will be climbing, and some will be a combination of these choices. There are also special maneuvers that can be learned as your pilots advance through the campaign, some of which are quite powerful if used correctly. Blue arrows indicate movement choices, green arrows indicate movement choices that will give you an opportunity to fire on an enemy target, and grey arrows indicate options that are unavailable to you at that time. There is quite a bit of data crunching going on under the hood of Pacific Skies that takes into account the capabilities of both your plane and its pilot. Thankfully, all of this is hidden from the player. However, if you would like to, for instance, like to know why a particular movement option is unavailable, simply click on the grey arrow for a quick explanation. This is a nice feature as it will help you to understand the different capabilities of your squadron. The goal is, of course, to shoot down the enemy without taking damage yourself. Flying straight into a pack of planes will almost certainly result in some damage to your opponent, however, it will likely result in you taking at least as much if not more. Clever maneuvering will win the day here so gain altitude when you can, and try to stay out of the enemy's sights. This is important because damaged planes will not be repaired and downed pilots won't be returned until the end of the current set of missions so do your best to spread damage around your squadron and be prepared to improvise if you end up a man down. There is also a solid multiplayer option, either through pass-and-play or online matchmaking.
Pacific Skies has a very polished look. From the high resolution, retina-ready artwork, to the silky smooth animation and the meticulously organized interface; this game is a pleasure to look at, something that significantly enhances the immersion factor.
Pacific Skies features nicely sampled sound effects and the music is rousing and original.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
While the original Ace Patrol was free to download with content available via in-app purchase, Pacific Skies features a return to a traditional pricing model; all content is included in the purchase price, and there are no timers, consumables, gold coins, gems, stars, or power-ups to buy. Although, the original game was also complete once the content was purchased, Pacific Skies the better buy of the two.
If you enjoy turn-based strategy games, Sid Meier's Ace Patrol: Pacific Skies is definitely your cup of tea. Even if you consider yourself a casual gamer, however, Pacific Skies is accessible enough for almost anyone to jump right in and enjoy themselves. What's more, it's a great value as it includes two generous campaigns and a very robust multiplayer component.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Really polished visuals serve to enhance a truly fun game. Sound: - 4 - Good sound effects and music, although neither truly stood out. Controls: - 5 - The controls are so intuitive and the interface so orderly, even a novice player could almost skip the tutorial if he/she chose. Gameplay: - 5 - Turn-based dogfighting heaven.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Select your upgrades carefully. It pays to have a healthy variety of abilities within your squadron. Protect your damaged aircraft when possible. Losing a flyer will force you to go a man down until the mission set is complete. Enter every dogfight with a clear idea of your strengths (don't try to out-turn an enemy aircraft if your plane doesn't turn well).