There’s no ‘I’ in team. That there is one in ‘Ikusa’ isn’t relevant – if you rely on no-one but yourself in the sequel to Pathway to Glory, you’re on a fast boat to trouble. That’s the thing to remember when you start playing Pathway to Glory: Ikusa Islands when it’s released in November – work as a team, not only within your squad but with the other friendly forces that you’ll come across from time to time.
Yep, instead of standing idly by, your computer-controlled allies are only too willing to pitch in and lend a hand. You’ll need them, too, because there are more enemy soldiers and they’re more intelligent this time around, too. While the Germans in the first instalment were fiendish enough, they were prone to running into your line of fire, making it relatively easy to ambush them. The Japanese forces that you’re fighting in Ikusa Islands have obviously heard of your exploits and as the action shifts to the Pacific theatre of World War 2, they’re far less likely to expend themselves in such a pointless manner.
This improved intelligence is also reflected in the psychology of both your troops and the enemy. Green rookies in your squad can quite easily become scared when under enemy fire and will refuse to move or obey orders; as they gain more battlefield experience their will hardens and they’re less likely to become fazed. While that sounds difficult enough, the Japanese troops are aware of your squad’s morale. If they sense that your soldiers don’t have the belly for a fight, they’re more likely to press home their counterattack in an effort to drive you from the battlefield. This is just another reason why you need to keep your squad working together. In the first game you could quite easily disperse over the map, which each soldier out on his own, and not get into too much trouble. That’s not going to be the case here.
Other additions to Pathway to Glory: Ikusa Islands include new weaponry, like the anti-personnel mortar which is ideal for taking out large groups of enemy troops. It’s not very accurate but when used in the right situations it’s lethally efficient. There are also more toys to play with; tanks and the like make their appearance much earlier on in the game and will be a core element of many levels, rather than an interesting sideline like they sometimes were in the first game.
In terms of how the game looks and plays, Ikusa Islands is staying faithful to the original, and that’s no bad thing. The visuals have been given a polish and everything looks very tropical, a marked contrast to the drab browns, greens and greys of Europe. The sound has been beefed up with an all-new orchestral score and a wider range of voice effects and soundbites. Word is you’ll even be able to record your own for use in multiplayer games. All of which means that Pathway to Glory: Ikusa Islands looks set to reaffirm the franchise’s place as the biggest, baddest weapon in the N-Gage arsenal.