Back in 2001, publisher EA bigged up a forthcoming title in the popular Medal of Honor series, to be called Fighter Command. Set in the Pacific during World War II, Fighter Command was a knee-jerk idea from EA to work as a tie-in with Hollywood's take on Pearl Harbor.
As it turned out, that cinematic turkey bombed, EA decided to abandon the skies and Fighter Command never happened. Enter IRGurus with Heroes of the Pacific - the flight combat game that EA never made. And, although we'll never know for sure, it's probably better.
Beginning with the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Heroes of the Pacific unfurls its wings through 26 missions taken from real-world events, such as Iowa Jima and the battle of Midway.
While gamers have played out these scenarios in online games such as Battlefield 1942, this is the first time we can think of where the environments have been tackled as a full-on flight combat single-player experience. And what an experience.
Getting the balance between the anality of full-on simulation flying and the simple fun of arcade playing is no easy feat, but IRGurus has done a bang-up job. You can choose between arcade or professional mode, but it's best to start in the former to get a feel for the gameplay. Then you can adopt the infinitely superior professional mode.
IRGurus has implemented an interesting mouse and keyboard control combo, but this pales in comparison to using a joystick.
Let's talk about filling the sky with enemy planes. Heroes of the Pacific is all about dog fighting and it does this with aplomb. Chasing on the tail of an enemy in the skies is so much fun that you can forgive some of the shoddy background graphics. In fact, as this was initially a console title ported to PC, we were a bit worried that it wouldn't look great but the special effects and plane detail are second to none. We haven't had this much fun in the skies since Microsoft's acclaimed Crimson Skies, from which Heroes of the Pacific unashamedly pilfers, er, we mean respectfully borrows.