Before I start to talk about Pacific Liberator from Zoo Games in any sort of in-depth manner, I have to say that there's something deeply satisfying about pretending that, with the help of your trusty helicopter, you are a powerful enough force to stop an evil dictator from maintaining his multi-island empire. Reinforcements and careful strategy are nice and all, but in the face of your chain gun and rockets, they are meaningless. Everything on the ground, in the air, and underwater is just waiting to be blown up, and you have just the right amount of explosives to make sure that the blowing up does indeed occur. This truly mindless excess of exploding things does provide some fun, but despite Pacific Liberator's sincere desire to make the player into an indestructible anti-dictator army, it has flaws that are difficult to overlook.
The gameplay in Pacific Liberator is straightforward, if not a bit simplistic. You're presented with a mission screen, telling you what exactly needs to be destroyed, and then you get in your helicopter and destroy it. Though these missions seem to have variety from their descriptions, they are very similar to one another. Aerial combat doesn't play that differently from seeking and destroying tanks, which is nearly identical to hunting down submarines and cargo carriers. In missions where a landmark needs to be protected, the sense that the landmark is in any actual danger tends to be vague, and missions where entire islands need to be leveled require very little strategy.
Even if the missions in Pacific Liberator tend to run together, there are no major problems with the underlying controls or gameplay. The helicopter controls work well, with the Wiimote adjusting the height and direction of the aircraft while the Nunchuck's analog stick is used for steering. Targeting enemy vehicles is also easy, as the player is given both crosshairs to aim from a distance and a larger target with an HP bar that appears when your helicopter gets close to the enemy. Enemy fire isn't impossible to dodge, nor is it too easy to escape, keeping the battles interesting and lending a certain importance to clearing out enemy vehicles that don't need to be destroyed to complete the mission.
The graphics and sound in Pacific Liberator are about at the same level as the gameplay. At first glance, the graphics are nice, with the helicopter in the midst of a clear and bright sky overlooking densely forested and populated islands. As the game goes on, however, some problems become apparent. The most major of them is that from any sort of height, it is difficult to distinguish the sky from the ocean, making it hard to tell where the helicopter is or how quickly it is moving. Occasionally unclear graphics on the ground can also make it difficult to tell if you're shooting at a hut or an enemy tank, which makes some missions a little tedious. Some pop-up and fog are also present, but this doesn't interfere with the gameplay. The sound in the game also becomes gradually less impressive as the game goes on, with the endless drone of the chain gun combining with the pleasantly generic majestic music to form some sort of bizarre white noise.
Taking all of this into account, it would seem that Pacific Liberator is a perfectly decent helicopter shooting game, with adequate graphics and sound as well as some nice explosions. Where the game really stumbles, however, is in terms of value. This game can be easily completed in less than two hours, even including the time it takes to fail and retry some of the more difficult missions. There are three difficulty levels present in the game, but they are all identical in terms of story and the content of the missions, making it difficult to justify playing the game multiple times. It could be said that the short length of the game stops it from becoming boring and tedious, but when a game is short enough to finish in one sitting, it can be difficult to recommend.
If you are in the mood to make some stuff blow up like it's in a trailer for a Michael Bay movie and don't mind a lack of longevity in your gaming sessions, Pacific Liberator might be precisely the right game for you. The gameplay is shallow, but still entertaining, and the graphics and sound are good enough to keep the game both playable and enjoyable. Still, the fact that Pacific Liberator seems to end as soon as it's really getting interesting will be a deal breaker for many – one of the main reasons why this game is a $20 budget title.
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