Strategic Minds: The Pacific — Ocean warfare

If boaty fights of fire and sulfur be not ye pleasure, then Strategic Minds : The Pacific may not be for ye. Or it might, as it’s quite fun. 

Strategic Minds: The Pacific places in the role of a big, head-honcho admiral dude who controls ships, airwings and marine units throughout the Pacific theater of World War 2, taking command of the American forces fighting against the Japanese.

The Pacific ocean is lovingly rendered, bright blue waves, luscious jungles and bright yellow beaches — it really is a paradise to sail your armadas around. Gameplay plays out as simply alternating turns with the enemy, you move your units around the hexagonal tiles, sailing and using the various armaments of your diverse fleet to accomplish your goals. 

A large battleship fires multiple cannons at an enemy submarine
Light blue touch paper and stand back

Your boats, befitting of the time, are formidable warships. Aircraft carriers, the pride of your fleet, host a wing of aircraft, these able to be launched into the sky-lofts to rain death and destruction on anything you aim them at. The battleship, meanwhile, is a doomsday ship, armed with devastating cannons which can shred anything they are pointed at — from land units, ships and even aerial units. Each of these fall to the power of the mighty battleship. On top of all this firepower, the battleship also comes equipped with a detachment of marines which allow you to form a beachhead on any patch of land that you decide is now yours. Sadly your enemies also have powerful ships, so tactics are a vital part of Strategic Minds.

Warships are very complex things, and they don’t really appreciate being violently modified. That’s why they  really don’t like it when they got shot at, or have large holes blasted into their sides by torpedos. Getting hit by enemy fire decreases your HP, a straight number that, when it gets to 0, you die, simple — right? Nope, along with your HP you also have stats for all of the subsystems as well as the hull of your boat. A torpedo might damage your engines and make a big hole in the side of your ship, or a ship firing at your carrier might damage your flight deck, hampering your ability to get planes in the sky. So while a ship or plane may be quite structurally sound, your weapon systems could be shot to pieces, strong but useless. 

A close up macro shot of an island with lots of palm trees
A perfect place for a spot of camping

Sailing their own boats around the Pacific, the AI is quite clever. They’re able to perform effective attacks and counterattacks, and in particular using their submarines for great annoyance, popping out to deal a bunch of damage with their torpedos, before disappearing back into the inky depths.

As you sail through through the two sides of the campaign, fighting as the Japanese as well as the Americans, I can’t help but be impressed with just how lovely everything looks, from the water to the palm trees to the big hunking monoliths of steel floating by them.

Despite its Early Access status, the quality of the ships and setting already stands out against other naval combat titles. If you’ve been waiting for a game like this then it might well be worth diving in right now, because there’s much more planned. Put simply, Strategic Minds: The Pacific is sure to blow your ships out of the water.

You can find Strategic Minds: The Pacific on Steam.

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