First Impressions: Battlestations: Pacific (Xbox 360)

It’s been years since I read a game manual. After all, in-game tutorials have pretty much eliminated the need for the customary instruction booklet. B

But the flimsy in-game guidance of Battlestations: Pacific, a fusion of strategy and lightweight simulation set amid the World War II conflicts in the Pacific Ocean, had me scrambling for the booklet within minutes. But perseverance with this naval epic does bring rewards.

The game requires constant shifts between strategy and up-close action where you take control of a fighter plane, bomber, submarine or ship.

The strategy side offers the kind of depth rarely seen beyond the confines of PCs while the action side dishes up the thrills that bring the battles to life with the balance firmly titled towards action rather than simulation.

There’s also plenty to experience with dozens of naval vehicles to control and a choice between playing as the Americans or the Japanese. And, yes, you can become a suicidal kamikaze pilot if helping imperial aggressors is your thing.

So Battlestations: Pacific does reward those willing to invest the time needed to get to grips with it.

And the manual? Sadly just as useless as any other game manual I’ve had the misfortune to read – about as illuminating as a government minister on Question Time.

Which begs the question just why are game manuals so bad?