If you are anything like me, you’ve probably wondered why, given so many European Theater World War II Strategy, FPS, and Combat Flight Sims are and have been available through the years, hasn’t the Pacific Theater and the savage battles of Okinawa, Guadalcanal, Saipan, Wake Island, Truk, Iwo Jima, Midway, Leyte Gulf, Burma, and the Philippine Islands (to name a few) been available to the gaming community?
It was with a certain sense of eagerness and anticipation that I watched previews and recently bought Iwo Jima. I guess some gamers never learn that patience is a virtue. Listen up, virtual soldiers of Company 2404, do not – I repeat – do not press that left mouse button, the link-clicking-ordering trigger.
I did, in fact, order this title but this virtual warrior should have done an immediate about-face and returned the unopened box and the trash that resided inside. To paraphrase a famous movie line: “You have great advertising… folks wouldn’t know you had nothing to sell.” After the nice artwork on the packaging, my first clue should have come from the thirty-second learning curve for keyboard strokes and mouse clicks. Yup,
How was my gaming experience? It started out lame and only got worse as I progressed. Before I get started with the complaining, I must first admit that I am so compulsive that I am really bothered if I do not finish what I start. Nevertheless, Iwo Jima was an exception. Even with the use of cheat codes, this game did everything possible to make me want to uninstall Iwo Jima a mere two weeks after installation. To add insult to injury, the program did not include an uninstaller.
"...this game did everything possible to make me want to uninstall Iwo Jima a mere two weeks after installation."
As near as I can tell, there are three missions on Saipan and seven missions on Iwo Jima, and probably a few more. I don’t really know, because Iwo Jima set my personal record of having the shortest tenure on my hard drive.
What didn’t I like about this game? Ask me how many reasons I can fit into a relatively terse review, and you will have the answer. Let’s start with graphics:
What you see above are the U.S. Marines landing on Iwo Jima – all four of them. Well, what do you want, five? Nah, that’s too many, and besides, somebody has to return the landing craft. True, there are a grand total of about sixteen Marines but they are on the other side of the rock and you have to look carefully to see them in this instance. They will not appear in any other part of this game. When you say Iwo Jima graphics can you also say “Windows 95”?
If you think that you are going to lead and command a squad of GIs on anything resembling a real military maneuver – forget about it. Or have fun mowing down wave upon wave of charging foes a-la Serious Sam? No such luck. The good news is you get to defeat the Japanese armed forces all by yourself. In all truthfulness, though, you’ll have plenty of help from the AI… as in brain dead. Also, “help” as in no trouble identifying the enemy. Everybody knows that those Japanese chaps (unintended racism by Groove, I’m sure) all look alike. Sort of, I guess. To me, they all looked like an old British Colonel I once met. Yes, the graphics were that bad. In any case, the enemies all appear to be but clones of the same basic graphic image of a Japanese soldier.
What’s that you say – you want action and excitement? Yes, indeed! If you act as a Sniper, your targets are so stationary that if you miss, you could try again, again, again, reload, and again. There you go, that’s the idea. Now to really quicken your pulse and add a little variety to your gaming experience, you may be charged by a wave of three – yes, I said three – kamikaze soldiers. The excitement enters into this situation because you need five shots from your arsenal of a sniper rifle, or pistol, to down one Japanese (?) clone soldier. Of course, if you are attacked by a wave of three, then you must reload to survive the encounter. Meanwhile, your health meter declines until you successfully complete the process. The very sage advice of the manual tells you that use of your sniper rifle in such a situation (an attack in force) is not a good idea because a sniper rifle is inaccurate at close range (or is it because you must reload after every shot, duh?). I guess the programmers at Direct Action never heard of a bayonet, or covering fire, or running for cover. I did, however, hit upon the perfect solution: (tilde), (god), (enter)
As an extra additional attraction, there are the vague mission statements. Now, that’s excitement a-la the solitary puzzle solving game Myst. Can you say, “What am I supposed to do next?” The Iwo Jima designers were so confused that they added a treasure hunt to each level, for good measure. It works this way. For bonus points, you need to find three items such as a Japanese Rising Sun flag, a samurai sword, etc. Why? Beats me. I was unable to find any type of a scoring system of “points” nor does success in finding these items allow power-ups or access to more powerful weapons. In fact, trying to find these items in a timed level only means you get to play the same level again. The structure of Iwo Jima reminds me of the three Stooges but instead of Moe, Larry, and Curly you get their three ugly sisters, Chaos, Confusion, and Boredom.
"The structure of Iwo Jima reminds me of the three Stooges but instead of Moe, Larry, and Curly you get their three ugly sisters, Chaos, Confusion, and Boredom."
If you think I’m exaggerating, indulge me in a quick walk-through of the first mission: Saipan – Sniper Patrol.
What do I do now since nobody seems to be at home? Straight ahead on the path, you think? What’s that I hear, classical music? Maybe the Japanese merely got bad press and are actually having a welcoming concert. No? Then let’s get ready to rrrrrumble.
I knew I shouldn’t have followed that path, but what choice did I have? Such stiff opposition, I’d better call for reinforcements. Ooops, I’m by myself, I’ll just have to deal with it. I’m not losing health because I’m in god
That is a tough one. The mines already claimed one victim (above). See that, I am not alone as I feared. But then again, I have not seen my other GIs since the landing. I wonder what are those objects on the ground? I better not chance it (fly
What a bit of curious luck. If you get lucky, you too can collect worthless (for game purposes) items such as the hidden sword above.
Are you ready for some real fun? In this scenario, your mission, if you care to accept it, is to light ten flares to brighten the runway while dashing over there… no, over there… no, over there… to defend three separate locations – fuel supply, parked aircraft, and vehicle/motor pool site against marauding Japanese. The key to success here is to find a centrally located spot relative to the three locations and use a knife – it’s quicker and you do not have to reload. Then, light the flares one or two at a time. Who said this was a straight FPS?
Many words to say, “Don’t buy this game.” I’m going to resell Iwo Jima, and I wouldn’t even buy this from me.
Summary: You were kind enough to read this far, so here goes:
Story Background: Written during somebody’s 5 minute smoke break. = 1.
Sound: Some of the music in the background was quite nice, but totally inappropriate for a war game. = 5
Replay Value: I didn’t play it through the first time. Why would I want to waste my time again? = 0.07
Conclusion: 2 Forget about it!!!