Brad: Hey, Koei – I’ve never commanded the Pacific fleet before. I just thought I should mention it because you seem to have mistaken me for someone who has. Why don’t you tell me how much of my budget should be allocated to fuel? Will I get more money later? How far can I go on 100 of your arbitrary fuel units? How many ships do I have right now? Those are all things I need to know before I can start making decisions that will affect the rest of the game. Even if you get through the opening screens without screwing up your fleet too badly, the rest of the game really doesn’t get any less overwhelming or confusing.
To put it another way – the company that made this game, also made Aerobiz, a business sim about the airline industry. I know even less about running an airline than I do about commanding the Navy, but I was able to figure out how to play it without too much trouble (or without even reading the instructions), because it’s designed to not be impossible. P.T.O. could lean a thing or two from that concept.
Add in some of the most menu-intensive, unintuitive gameplay ever seen on a console, and you’ve got yourself one nightmare of a strategy game.
Stryker: I don’t mind investing a fair amount of time in order to learn how to play a game, but I also I don’t want to have to earn a PhD just to play it. PTO is absolutely brutal with the amount of detail it has, and the fact that it does absolutely nothing to ease you into it. Even after reading the instructions and a detailed FAQ, I still had no idea what the hell I was supposed to be doing, and probably made a lot of bad choices that would have hindered my war efforts if I had ever been able to get things going in the first place. Maybe if I had a few years to learn this game, I could get my head around it, but I just don’t have that kind of free time.