Alastair Cornish on Battlestations: Pacific
The original Battlestations was something of a surprise success, not only commercially but critically too, blending real-time strategy elements with up close and personal action like few titles before it. Comparisons with Battlefield are perhaps fair, given the WWII setting, but Eidos' developers have been working hard to carve their own unique niche, and we've playing the fruits of their efforts in Battlestations: Pacific. Alastair Cornish, external designer, works in Hungary with the development team. We cornered him for a few words on next year's release.
Thanks for speaking with us Alastair, how long have you been working on this project now?
A couple of years now...
Okay, and the game follows on from Battlestations: Midway. Why did you decide to stick with the Pacific setting, rather than looking at conflict elsewhere?
Yes, that's right, we're still in the Pacific. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that we still feel there's a lot we can do in the Pacific. The big thing we're doing with this sequel is the full Japanese campaign. So, there is still a lot to explore from the Pacific angle. This setting also resonates better with the American market than say an Atlantic campaign would. Another being features of ours - island capture - is obviously much better suited to the Pacific setting than somewhere else. If you think about classic instances of island capture their are numerous cases, and this is less-so elsewhere. These are just a few of the reasons.
The game focusses on naval and air combat...
Yes, although there are submarines as well. Air, sea, and under-sea we say...
That's the same formula used in Midway I believe. What's new?
Well, the Battlestations brand is effectively all about a couple of things really. One of those things is 'air, sea and undersea' - this is one of our pillars. Another is the action-strategy element. Using the map screen for a few minutes, then leaping into a submarine for a few minutes; that blend is also a pillar. So, we weren't going to change or drop those, we just wanted to enhance them.
So, there are a lot more unit types - most of which I can't speak about yet!
I can't give any really! Its all about historical accuracy... another pillar. We look to do this as much as possible. Accuracy in terms of unit types is also important. A lot of this has been driven by fan feedback. So, if fans have been clamouring for a particular unit, then the chances are; well, you'd hope anyway, that it's now in there. If you look at some of the traditional units missing from the first game you might expect to see some of those in Pacific. Some experimental stuff may be introduced too. That's about it there... we've also got a new class of unit which launches detachable sub-units - beyond carriers. That's in the trailer. There are so many improvements, many of them fan-driven - its not a case of radical departures but rather radical improvements.
Is it a bigger game?
So... singleplayer is double the size, the Japanese campaign's in there. This isn't the same missions reversed; switching from American to Japanese forces, rather the campaigns are unique. The Japanese campaign is particularly exciting because its not just made-up - rather, its based on the Japanese war plans drawn up at the time; pressing their advantage had they won at Midway. So, rather than have a campaign where the player, despite his best efforts, is going to keep losing, we didn't want to make stuff up either, so we base it on historical plans which assume the Japanese won the encounter at Midway. They continued to win every battle as per the plans drawn up; its alternate history, but its accurate.
Was it a challenge telling the alternative story from a Japanese perspective?
Not so much a challenge... it was a really fun opportunity. They have very different units, very interesting units - there are great characters; a different mindset and methodology. We've given it a really even-handed treatment, for both sides, the challenge was an opportunity...
Do you deal with Kamikaze and things like that?
I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say!
Can I assume that's a yes, then...
Ahhhh... assume away.