The series returns to its original theme: the second world war. Instead of the European/North African setting, this game tackes the Pacific theatre, however. With few changes to the underlying engine (there are now day and night changes in addition to weather etc.), (mainly) US and Japanese armies fight for world supremacy.
The change of setting comes with some changes to unit set and typical scenarios. This part of the war was dominated by aircraft carriers and island hopping. The thing is: neither in the air, nor on the high seas, there is any relevant terrain. No roads, no streams, no woods, no entrenchment etc. Tactical possibilities should be quite limited.
The good news: there are hardly any real naval battles in the strict sense. Most scenarios instead deal with the invasion of some island or other land mass. I.e. one side's army starts out loaded in transport ships with fighter planes carefully guarding the vulnerable landers while the other tries to intercept or fortify. Interesting scenario… but it gets old when this is virtually every single scenario. What's good and fresh about the scenarios, on the other hand, is the appearance of neutral factions. This spices things up quite a bit, as there is always the tradeoff whether to attack anyway (for extra victory points) and gain an enemy in the process or not.
Controls have been slightly adapted again. The two side menus only appear on mouseover, which probably should provide more overview of the map, but is just plainly annoying. Unit commands can also be given through a pop-up context menu in Battle Isle 2 style, which is indeed a step forward. For some reason, units move really slowly. On the plus side again, there is a fairly powerful scenario generator.
Compared to the previous outing, Star General,is definitely a clear improvement again. Nevertheless, it's just an average entry to the series. Island hopping is fairly boring due to the reasons explained before. Many scenarios are not very exciting, but rather tend towards frustration based on the tight turn limits, and the game flow, overall, is unnecessarily slow. All these WW2 General games should really have been released as expansion packs rather than standalone games. That would have made them much more attractive and grumpy critics much more forgiving.