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Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol Pacific Skies ($4.99 Universal) is a turn based strategy game that takes place during World War II. In it you command a squadron of pilots in an attempt to change the outcome of the war in the Pacific.
You start out the game by choosing sides. You can be a naval or army pilot for either the U.S. or Japan (but not the Air Force). Keep in mind that the Pacific phase of WWII did not actually end until September 2, 1945 and the United States Air Force was not founded until September 18, 1947, some two years later. I point out this fact since throughout the game facts about WWII are part of the game. Once you have selected the nation you will fight for, you move on to selecting your first pilot. Then it is time to take on your first mission.
Taking turns like chess pieces on a board, the planes that are in the sky have a limited number of moves they can make. These moves are limited based on the type of plane being flown, the capabilities of the pilot, and of course the position of the plane in the sky. No matter how great of a pilot you think you may be, each plane can only go so high, and there is an obvious limit to how low you can go. When it is your turn to move one of your planes, the available moves will be shown by blue arrows on the hexagonal battle field. You will have time to contemplate before committing to each move.
As you approach the enemy you will see green arrows that will indicate an attack move. It will even show you how much damage you can expect to inflict on the enemy with that move. The amount of damage varies greatly based on the angle of attack. Often times it will take more than one approach to take down an enemy. And that is where you start to learn each plane’s strengths as well appreciate each pilot’s abilities. Early on with lesser skilled pilots you will find that the dog fights will require several moves to turn and attack again.
Managing your own squadron of pilots, you can decide which pilots to send out on each different mission. At the completion of each mission, the members of your squadron that flew in the mission can earn equipment upgrades for your planes, and your pilots can learn new aerial maneuvers. You can lose your pilots during a mission, as they can be shot down. As a configurable difficulty option in the game, they will either die or just be injured. If you lose them over your own territory, they will be injured but you will see them again. On the other hand if you lose them over enemy territory they will be taken prisoner. Depending on the difficulty level chosen, you could be lose one of your best pilots for a single battle, until you rescue them or for the rest of the war.
With four different starting points, there are over 180 different missions to fight in the game in single player mode. However, if you feel up to the challenge of taking on one of your GameCenter friends you can play in two-player mode. In two-player mode, you can elect to play either a networked game or opt to play head to head by passing the device back and forth. The two-player mode will make playing the gem a pleasure for quite a while, but there is plenty of content to keep you busy on your own for a decent amount of time.
While the actual war in the Pacific took years, your mission is to bring it to a swift end this weekend.