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Video Game / Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault

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Conlin: "For more than two centuries, the United States Marine Corps has fought for freedom. But their infamy, their legend, was forged during the hell of World War II. Triumph cannot exist without hardship. The price of victory is paid in the blood of men. Faith, courage, and sacrifice paved their road. And that long journey began in the early hours of December 7th, 1941..."
Opening to Pearl Harbor
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Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault is the 7th entry in the Medal of Honor series. It was released for Microsoft Windows on November 4, 2004.

Like Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, this game is set in the Pacific Theater of World War II. And like that game, the player plays as a US Marine fighting against the forces of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. In this case, you play as Corporal Thomas Conlin, a Marine fighting in the Battle of Tarawa. Unlike the former though, this one attempts a more realistic plot and focuses solely on the United States Marine Corps from start to finish. As a result, it has none of the Stealth-Based Mission elements of previous Medal of Honor titles, nor is The Protagonist of this game a member of the OSS Trapped Behind Enemy Lines.

Conlin starts off during the first day of the Battle of Tarawa and gets seriously wounded just after landing on the island. We then cut back to when he first starts off as a Marine recruit training in boot camp, along with the other members of his squad. From there, he is later assigned to Pearl Harbor, where he witnesses the Japanese attack of December 7th firsthand, as well as the destruction of the ship he was originally assigned on, the USS Arizona. Following this, he decides to take specialized training and becomes a Marine Raider, an elite fighting force tasked with conducting raids behind enemy lines. It is here that he gets reunited with his old squad from basic training, and from there, they are assigned to raid Makin Atoll, their first combat assignment.

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Pacific Assault contains examples of:

  • Action Prologue: The game begins with Conlin's account of the invasion of Tarawa in November 1943.
  • Actionized Sequel: Compared to previous titles, and especially Rising Sun, all missions are set in the heat of battle or at the frontline, with nary a Stealth-Based Mission seen.
  • Almost Dead Guy: Minoso finds a wounded Japanese soldier during one of their patrols in Guadalcanal. Naturally, the soldier refuses to divulge information to him before dying.
  • Anti-Air: Several different anti-aircraft guns appear throughout the game, notably the Bofors 40mm, Type 96 25mm, and 28mm "Chicago Piano". To a lesser extent, the M2 Browning machine-guns are also shown used in the anti-aircraft role, although most of the time they are relegated to use against infantry.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Conlin and his squad manage to clear Tarawa, but all of them know that this island is just one stepping stone in the massive Pacific Theater of Operations. The game ends implying that they will deployed again in a few months.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Japanese soldiers are capable of sneaking past and ambushing a player, complete with bayoneting them in the back.
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    • Sullivan, your squad's Corpsman, also counts, as he will always rush to your aid whenever you call for him or get seriously wounded, provided he still has supplies left.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Most of your squad save for Sullivan, as the orders you shout to them hardly do anything.
  • Artistic Licence – History: Downplayed. The attack on Pearl Harbor sees the USS Nevada being sunk while trying to escape the attack. In reality the Nevada did indeed try and escape, but her crew was forced to deliberately run her aground to avoid her sinking in the channel and blocking the entrance to the harbor. Also when she sinks, the entire ship submerges under the water, which isn't possible because of how shallow Pearl Harbor is.
  • Attack Its Weakpoint: As with the other depictions of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona is hit by a Japanese armor-piercing bomb, which detonates the forward powder magazine.
  • Bayonet Ya: One of the favorite tactics of Japanese soldiers is to bayonet you. Conlin himself can do this to them, provided he's using a captured Arisaka rifle or an M1 Garand, as both have permanently attached bayonets.
    • The standard Japanese Light Machine Gun of the game, The Type 96, also has an attached bayonet. And Japanese soldiers using it will try to bayonet you with it.
  • Beginner's Luck: What pretty much describes Conlin's forced piloting of the SBD Dauntless he's in following Frank, the original pilot, being forced to bail out. By the time he's landed on the USS Independence, he's damaged or destroyed several Zeroes and Betties, and helped in the sinking of a Japanese destroyer and possibly a Japanese Fleet carrier.
  • BFG: Browning Automatic Rifle, or BAR, despite being a downplayed example of this, still counts. For starters, it can kill an enemy with a well-placed shot in any body parts (other than most automatic rifles in that regard), capable of fending off an enemy banzai charge with carefully-aimed shots and it is possible to take down and destroy enemy aircraft (exemplified in the Marine Raiders' evacuation to USS Nautilus). But even so, due to its rather low magazine capacity when compared to other automatic rifles (only holding 20 rounds), players must be keen and count all of their shots if they were to utilize the weapon into a good use.
  • Big Guy Fatality Syndrome: Subverted with Minoso. He gets badly wounded during the ferrying mission from Henderson to Tarawa, but he manages to survive bailing out and landing in the ocean, and is sent back to Hawaii.
  • Blasphemous Boast: The Marine drill instructor during the tutorial details how God created the Marines to be above his other creations, namely the soldiers, sailors, and airmen, but because God is not a Marine that means the instructor is above God himself.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In one level, Conlin is stated to have had informal pilot training thanks to the Marine airmen at Henderson Field. It comes in handy when he's forced to pilot a Dauntless dive bomber later on.
    • During the Makin Island raid, Sullivan is shown to be a Badass Driver when behind the wheel. These driving skills come in handy again on Tarawa, when Conlin's unit needs to rendezvous with their reinforcements on the other side of the island.
  • Cool Plane: Notable examples in this game include the deadly A6M2 Zero and the famous SBD Dauntless, the latter of which you get to pilot in one level.
  • Combat Medic: Your squad's corpsman, Sullivan, as well as other corpsmen, are forced to wield handguns while also healing Marines, due to the fact that the Japanese will kill any American they encounter, regardless of them being a medic or not.
  • Cool Boat: Several, notably the World War I-era dreadnought battleships in Pearl Harbor, as well as the Japanese aircraft carrier Akagi.
    • There's also the USS Nautilus, a Narwhal-class submarine at Makin, and the USS Independence (CVL-22), the lead ship of the same class of light aircraft carriers.
  • Crew of One: Conlin can man American pack howitzers, Japanese artillery, and most medium caliber anti-aircraft guns singlehandedly.
  • Curb-Stomp Cushion: Conlin and the other Marines and sailors aboard the USS West Virginia, despite being caught unprepared at first, are able to down several Japanese aircraft attacking their ship and the USS Nevada, eventually forcing them to call off the attack. Unfortunately, by then, the damage had already been done, and most of the fleet is damaged, destroyed, or sinking.
  • Damage Control: Conlin helps the sailors aboard the USS West Virginia in controlling flooding damage in one of the engine rooms.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to the Medal Of Honor games set in Europe, and even Medal of Honor: Rising Sun, this one depicts tenser and darker moments, particularly during the Guadalcanal and Tarawa battles, where Japanese soldiers play dead, and Japanese Marines commit suicide with grenades to die trying to charge at American lines.
  • Defiant to the End: The Japanese in general refuse to surrender or give information, and would rather fight to the death. Sadly, this is Truth in Television for most of the Japanese who fought in the Pacific.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: One appears during boot camp, and is, of course, based heavily on R. Lee Ermey down to the voice and mannerisms.
  • Eagleland: Definite Type 1 flavor, as with the other titles in the series.
  • Elite Mooks: The IJN Special Landing Forces, or Japanese Marines. Also counts as an Evil Counterpart. Unlike the IJA, they're much better shots, and are shown to have a bigger variety of weapons.
  • The Empire: Who else but Imperial Japan?
  • Everyone Lives: Conlin and the rest of his squad manage to go through hell and back. Even Minoso survives, albeit thanks to his injuries, is forced to miss out the Final Battle.
  • Evil Counterpart: The IJN Special Landing Forces, or Japanese Marines, to the US Marines. Like their American counterparts, they're elite troops specializing in amphibious operations, and are just as gung-ho and tenacious.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The weather and radio broadcasts in the main menu change with the progression of each level. In the latter case, the radio broadcasts in question change to the time period of the next campaign.
  • Falling into the Cockpit: Conlin is forced to pilot the SBD Dauntless he's in after the original pilot is wounded and forced to bail, due to not carrying a parachute. Fortunately, he's taken informal pilot training during his time on Henderson Field.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Averted with Gunnery Sgt. Minoso, who shows Tommy a picture of his girlfriend in a foxhole on Guadalcanal. Not too long after, the Japanese attack on Bloody Ridge begins, but both he and Conlin survive without a scratch.
  • Guy in Back: Conlin acts as the rear gunner of an SBD Dauntless in a later level. He's forced to pilot the same plane later in the level when the pilot bails out.
  • High-Altitude Battle: The entire SBD Dauntless segment, but especially the dogfight between the Zeroes and the Dauntlesses Conlin and squad are ferrying.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Colonel Merritt A. Edson, who leads the defenses of Henderson Field and Bloody Ridge.
  • How We Got Here: Conlin gets knocked out by enemy fire in the Action Prologue, and every level from then on details on his previous experiences, from boot camp all the way to Guadalcanal.
  • Hungry Jungle: Guadalcanal. It comes to a point that Conlin isn't sure whether the Japanese or the jungle will get to him and the others first.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: Downplayed Trope here, as all the equipment shown was more-or-less accurate for the time period the game is set in, but the Marines on Guadalcanal are shown using M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, and M1919 Browning machine guns, weapons that would have been issued to the US Army during the time, but not so much for the Marines, as they were mostly relying on older weapons like the Springfield and M1917 Browning machine gun, due to the Army getting priority over them. Though this could be hand-waved that the Marines received surplus from the Army, or stole the weapons from them, as was common during the campaign.
  • Jungle Warfare: The vast majority of levels are set deep within the jungles of remote South Pacific islands, where Conlin and the other members of his squad not only battle the Japanese, but also the elements, and the jungle itself.
  • Justified Tutorial: Because it's boot camp for Marine recruits, where they go through obstacle courses, firearms training, squad tactics, and corpsman training.
  • Last Stand: Two of them. The first on Guadalcanal, where the remaining IJA forces are driven to the coastline and are defending from fixed positions, and on Tarawa, where the last few IJN troops hold out in a damaged bunker, low on ammunition.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: This is the first title in the Medal of Honor series where the protagonist is not a member of the OSS, thus, there are no stealth missions or missions where you are Trapped Behind Enemy Lines. Also, this game, like Rising Sun is not set in the European Theater like its predecessors.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: The Marines change uniforms in the Time Skip between the Guadalcanal and Tarawa levels, going from plain green uniforms to khaki ones with camouflage.
    • A more subtle example is the USAAF pilots at Henderson Field going from P-39 Airacobras to the more advanced P-38 Lightning.
  • Old School Dogfight: Happens over Henderson Field at the end of the first Guadalcanal level, between attacking Japanese Zeroes and defending American SBD Dauntlesses, P-39 Airacobras, and F4F Wildcats.
    • Another happens when the SBD Dauntlesses Conlin and his squad are in are intercepted by Japanese Zeroes flying from a remote island base.
  • New Meat: Several US Marines in the prologue are shown to be replacements, or as Conlin and the other veterans call them, "Three-week wonders".
    • Conlin himself starts out as one in the training level, alongside his squadmates.
  • Playing Possum: One of the favorite tactics of Imperial Japanese soldiers, particularly during the second part of "Bloody Ridge", where a Japanese patrol lays dead, intending on catching Minoso, Conlin, and other US Marines off guard.
  • Put on a Bus: Minoso while piloting an SBD Dauntless during their ferrying mission from Henderson to the USS Independence, is wounded and forced to bail out, and is later pulled from the water. Because of this, he is forced to miss out Tarawa, but not before handing his Browning Automatic Rifle to Conlin and giving him total command of the squad .
  • Puzzle Boss: The secret to destroying the IJN carrier and destroyer is to target the Anti-Air and artillery mounts first, setting fires, and eventually, a chain of explosions that cause both ships to sink. With the carrier, a bomb or torpedo hit is also needed.
  • Rare Guns: Compared to other titles set in the Pacific, this game features a few more than usual, notably the Reising M55.
    • As with a lot of other games set in the same period, the Japanese get the Type 100 submachine gun and Type 92 heavy machine gun.
    • For those with the Director's Edition of the game, there's also the M1941 Johnson Light Machine gun, of which only 9,500 were built.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Again, the Reising SMG in comparison to the other two submachine guns in the game. It has far less magazine capacity and stopping power than both the Type 100 and Thompson, as well as suffering from poor accuracy. In Real Life, it was notorious among the Marines for its tendency to jam.
  • Semper Fi: Very much so. Conlin himself, as well as his entire squad, are Marines from basic training all the way to the Battle of Tarawa.
  • Shout-Out: You can hear a Star Wars one on the radio during the battle for Henderson Field:
    "This is Red Five, I'm going in!"
    "But what about that tower?!"
    "You worry about the cannons, I'll worry about the tower!"
  • Shown Their Work: Several examples, mostly related to the depiction of weapons in-game.
    • The Mk. 2 grenades used in the game are appropriate for the Mid-war period, as they were painted yellow until the end of 1942, before manufacturers switched to the iconic olive color.
    • The developers definitely took their time with doing their homework when coming up and making the trivia sections for each level, as they manage to describe in detail things ranging from firearms from the time period, to events around the time period the level is set in, etc.
    • The radio broadcasts heard in the Evolving Title Screen are all radio broadcasts from the exact time period the player is currently progressing through.
    • The Marines switching from green uniforms similar to those of the Army to khaki camo uniforms is of special note, as the latter only became available to Marines starting in late 1943, the time period in which Tarawa takes place.
  • Sinking Ship Scenario: Conlin, as well as a few other sailors and Marines, manage to prevent the USS West Virginia from capsizing, this subverting this trope.
  • Storming the Beaches: Averted in Makin and Guadalcanal, as the Japanese are fought further inland instead, and the landings there go rather smoothly. Played straight on Tarawa, however, as shown in the prologue.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Oftentimes, the Japanese will simply try to charge and bayonet/melee/slash the player with their Arisakas/Katanas. They even do this when they're outnumbered and outgunned, and it usually spells an end for them, unless they approach you and your squadmates from behind.
  • Supporting Leader: Minoso. While he's the highest ranking soldier in Conlin's squad, he leaves the actual commanding to Conlin, preferring to shoot at the Japanese more.
  • Taking You with Me: Several dying Japanese soldiers do this with grenades to any unsuspecting American Marines, especially during the Tarawa battle.
  • Tank Goodness: M3 Stuart and M4 Shermans are present at the Battle of Tarawa, although it's not until the last few hours of the battle that they can be of any help to Conlin's squad.
  • Tanks for Nothing: The Japanese Type 95 "Ha-Go" and Type 97 "Chi-Ha" tanks just outside Henderson Field are destroyed by Conlin and his squad before they can even make it to the tarmac.
  • The Squad: For most of the game, Conlin fights in ground combat alongside his other squadmates Sullivan, Minoso, and Gaines.
  • The Stinger: Minoso in a voice-over is telling a story to another Marine about flirting with nurses after being transferred to Hawaii.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Tarawa, as compared to the other islands you've fought on, is defended by Japanese Marines and is fortified from the ground up.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: So, Conlin and other US Marines are outnumbered and outgunned as the Japanese are about to overrun their last defensive line on Bloody Ridge. So how do he and the other Marines stop the enemy's advance for good? With Pack Howitzers fired from point-blank range, complete with air attack.
  • Time Skip: Two of them. The first is between Pearl Harbor and the Makin Island Raid, the second taking place late in the game, between securing Guadalcanal and just before the Invasion of Tarawa.
  • Zerg Rush: Japanese soldiers from time to time will attempt a Banzai charge at your position.
    • Taken Up to Eleven with the Battle of Bloody Ridge, where the Japanese forces en masse keep rushing the Marine positions relentlessly, forcing Conlin and Minoso to retreat to the more heavily fortified positions in their line. It takes artillery and air attacks to finally stop the attack for good.
    • Tarawa has several Banzai charges happen, mostly due to the Japanese Marines having either run out of ammunition or out of sheer desperation.
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