Overall Gameplay Opinions
WiTP:AE has the option to order the CD and manual, which is something I highly recommend. The cost of the game is stout, but for a game of this scope I personally think it is well worth it. This is a game that is really unmatched in any turn-based strategy game both past and present. Learning all the ins and outs of the game is intense for experienced wargamers and almost overwhelming for inexperienced gamers. The printed manual is a major asset.
In my War in the Pacific review I held some serious critiques of the AI. WiTP:AE improves somewhat on those deficiencies, but not totally. The AI is much more aggressive in general over the original War in the Pacific and this means it will try to take areas that the original game ignored. Nomea was a very important staging area for the fight in the South Pacific. I never had the AI try to take it in the original game but in WiTP:AE the AI has attempted it. In essence, the game will play differently based upon a base die roll. It can be either excessively aggressive or much more conservative depending on that roll.
Likewise selection of the level of difficulty has an effect on enemy supply. Essentially supply for IJN forces is substantially improved in the harder difficulty levels. While this makes the game more challenging, it really eliminated the reason the Japanese had when they started the war. There isn’t really as much need for the AI to attempt to capture resources since the game just gives the AI the resources it needs. It is essentially a cheat that the AI uses to keep itself in the game. It also means that attacking sources of Japanese supply has a much less effective result. More of the Japanese cargo carrying capacity can be used to transport troops. It does make the game harder, but in an artificial manner.
For all the good, there is something I cannot stand about this game. In WiTP and WiTP:AE there are restricted units that can only be used in areas designated for those troops. For example, Filipino forces are restricted to the Philippines and cannot be transported out of the country. Some units can be reassigned to non-restricted commands and moved, but this requires the use of political points. The AI forces don’t suffer from this restriction. It ticks me off that if you do manage to develop a well supported defense — something the British could have done in Malaysia or even the U.S. and Philippino forces could have done in the Philippines — it really doesn’t matter because the AI will just shunt troops from restricted areas and take your defenses out. I managed to be well-entrenched at several points only to have an ensuing shock attack from several divisions of elite IJN troops that should have been in China. It is frustrating to see this happen and it diminishes the fun of trying to stop the AI.
Ground Combat – War in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition
Ground Units – War in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition
The reality is, every single wargame I have ever played has had compromises such as described here. Coding AI is very difficult because humans are unpredictable and computers cannot necessarily predict what the human will do. This is especially true since most players of the game are WWII history buffs and know exactly what the Japanese are going to do. A smart player knows right off the bat how to counter some of the early moves by the Japanese, so it does make some sense allowing the AI the opportunity to counter the advanced knowledge of the human player.
But at the same time it is frustrating when you set up a defense that historically could have been done only to have the AI overwhelm it with numbers that it couldn’t have fielded historically.
Honestly, the best way to play this game is against a human opponent. Human opponents are much more unpredictable than any AI and they don’t get the cheats that the computer AI gets. WiTP:AE is an amazing game to play against a real person, and the play-by-email (PBEM) aspects of the game make it one of the best all around games available. There are some games that should be played against a human opponent, WiTP:AE is one of then.
The only other complaint I have about WiTP:AE is the relative lack of campaigns in the game. The original game allowed players to start the conflict from mid 1942, 1943 and 1944. This gave the player the chance to jump into the war later and avoid the initial stage of the conflict. Maybe a Japanese player would want to see if he can stop the Allies after taking losses at Midway? Likewise, American players may want to start from the island hopping stage of the war and avoid the initial defensive struggle. Unfortunately, there is no grand campaign except from December 7th / 8th. There has been talk of a 1942 / 43 campaign add-on and it may happen if some independent person wants to tackle such a feat, but for now there isn’t an option to start playing from a later date in the war.
It is possible with the Campaign Editor, so it feasibly could happen. Some interesting campaigns have already been created. Why not include a couple that assumed the Washington Naval Treaties never occurred? These would make for some interesting “what if” gameplay.
Japan – War in the Pacific: Admiral’s Edition
Overall, I still consider War in the Pacific to be the best wargame ever created. The Admiral’s Edition makes the original game even better. It is by far the best wargame created for PBEM sessions. It isn’t for the faint-hearted or for those that want quick gameplay. It is for those that really like to micro-manage games, and it does that very well.
Reviewer’s System Specs
- Intel Core 2 Duo 8500 processor
- ATI Radeon HD 5770 graphics processor
- Asus Maximus motherboard
- 4 GB DDR2 RAM
- WD 300GB HDD
- Windows 7 Home Premium
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