Battlestations Pacific opens with the US Navy pushing towards Guadalcanal, their eyes fixed on the Japanese mainland, but interestingly is joined by another parallel campaign in which you play as the Japanese, rewriting history as you emerge victorious from engagements that led to defeat in the real world. Opening, rather boldly, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, to which you contribute, it's a welcome addition and one that pretty much doubles your single-player options!
Multiplayer has also benefited from a few blasts from the gameplay pump. There is a decent spread of ways to play communally. Escort games find one side protecting a vessel while the others try to sink it. There are also competitive and co-operative modes, where you play on the same side, trying to either top your ally's score or work together for victory. All modes are playable as single-player skirmishes as well, so you can get some practice in, or just enjoy a standalone confrontation outside of the main campaign path.
More impressive, however, is Island Capture. This new mode takes advantage of one of the game's new features - the ability to send landing craft to capture ground installations - and the result is fantastic. Played on large, generous maps, these matches can be epic, with up to eight players battling to take and hold key locations, each of which bestows a gameplay perk. Take over a radar outpost, for example, and you get the option to recon the entire map. It's in this mode that the game's future potential seems to lie, offering a compelling naval complement to the sort of air and ground action found in DICE's Battlefield series.
The damage models are also impressive, and in the midst of a raging battle it's genuinely exhilarating to trace a distant enemy plane with your AA cannons and then watch the smoking wreckage plummet into the sea. Such falling debris can cause damage, so it's more than just a cosmetic effect. The lighting is often lovely as well, whether it's used for atmospheric rain-soaked night missions or dazzling dawn raids on sun-kissed islands.
Battlestations Pacific is a grizzled veteran of war, offering something few other WWII shooters have tried before by integrating Naval battles into the world and you know? You have to admire it for giving it, its best shot.