Arguably the best entry in SSI's 5-star series (except for Fantasy General) before the engine was upgraded for Panzer General 2, Pacific General covers both land and naval combat during World War II in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The game introduces many new elements to the tried-and-true Panzer General engine, including a full-fledged naval combat module, complete with hundreds of painstakingly modelled ships of all sizes. You can take on the role of either the Axis or the Allied in a series of single scenarios or a full-blown campaign. Everything from the invasions of China and Burma and the attack on Pearl Harbor to the hypothetical invasions on the Japanese mainland (Operation Olympic) and San Francisco are here.
Like its predecessors, Pacific General is a grand strategic game with a charming simplicity. The addition of naval battles is handled with no less finesse than land-based battles. Naval units occupy more than a single hex and can suffer "critical hits". Aircraft can be placed on CAP to protect ships from air attacks. Submarines can now be submerged for attack, with just their periscopes showing above the surface. Aircraft carriers can now be "opened" to reveal a deck full of fighters ready for launching. The interface is a bit cumbersome, and the means of repairing damaged aircraft at sea is awkward, but the innovation allows for grand naval battles like Pearl Harbor, Midway, Coral Sea, Guadalcanal, and the Marianas Turkey Shoot to be re-created more or less accurately. As with other games in the series, the AI isn't tactically brilliant, but it's much better than the blatantly cheating module of the original. One of the best improvements is the fact that you can now move units after combat if it has movement points remaining. This movement-combat-movement is much better and more realistic than the chess-style combat-ends-move of the previous games. Grognards will also welcome native TCP/IP support for Internet play, which lets you square off against real opponents.
Although naval battles in the game sometimes are reduced into a "frisbee" game of lobbing shots from outside the enemies' range without any ship-to-ship combat, Pacific General is still a lot of fun and offers many more interesting historical and "what-if" scenarios than earlier games. Highly recommended for all fans of the series, and anyone looking for a solid World War II wargame. Two thumbs up!Reviewed by: Underdogs