Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review: A Decent Flight, But A Rough Landing
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is a flight simulation title available on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I was immediately interested when I first heard about the game earlier this year as i’m instantly drawn to any type of aviation game. What makes this title even more interesting is that Mad Catz is releasing a flight stick along with the game, the Pacific AV8R. So this of course sent my “giddiness” through the roof. From the outside looking in, this game has a nice vibe going for it for anyone who is a fan of aviation. Upon receiving the game, I was fortunate enough to get the Squadron Leader edition, an edition that comes with a game, flight stick and a model airplane. It’s such a great looking collector’s edition and by far my favorite collector’s edition that I own. Again, I am partial because I love aviation and now have a sweet looking model plane and flight stick to go along with this game.
As for the game itself, after hooking up the flight stick and trying to contain my giddiness, I took flight into what Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII has to offer. The main character has a short personal story that is shared mostly at the beginning, but the main focus of the story is of course World War II and specifically, the war in the Pacific. As I had mentioned in my preview, the developers spent a great deal of time with historians to make sure we got a near authentic experience.
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII – Air and Ship Combat Gameplay Video
When it comes to the gameplay it will take players a little bit of time to get used to as the control is very sensitive and it becomes hard to target your enemy. I wish it was a bit smoother, but it’s not a bad thing at all as they try to keep the game challenging. Locking on to a target shouldn’t be the smoothest or easiest thing to do, but it’s still easy enough to take down an enemy aircraft. Besides that, the combat is simple and fun as you dominate the skies. In fact, no matter what difficulty you play on, you will dominate the skies. I played the game on the hardest difficulty and it was a cakewalk. Now, I know I am a great pilot, but the game really doesn’t provide you with much of a challenge.
There are times where the game does become more interesting, such as going up against an ace pilot. That just means they are moving around a lot more and harder to target, but still, I took care of them in very little time and with very little of a challenge and without them taking me down. I had one other moment where I was photographing a plane and got to close to a battleship and they ripped me apart, but you just need to make sure to stay out of their targeting area and you will be just fine. One other time where I had a mission fail was when I let troops take a base I was meant to protect. I didn’t realize how fast the ground troops were moving, so the next time I was able to keep them away from both areas a lot easier because I was paying attention to it closely that time. Even with the lack of a challenge, whether it’s fighting in the skies or torpedo bombing boats and taking out ground targets, the missions are fun to play. Sometimes they can drag on a little bit though as they can last upwards of 30 minutes, but they are usually between the 10-30 minute mark.
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII – Dive Bombing Gameplay Video
There is one major problem that you are going to notice right away with this game and the first mission has it the worst. This game has a lot of frame rate issues which create a lot of slowdown in the gameplay. Unfortunately the first mission has it bad and that is a horrible way to start out your experience with a game. The first mission revolves around the bombing of Pearl Harbor, so you have numerous planes flying around, explosions and so on. Unfortunately you have to deal with that slowdown for pretty much the entire mission, but thankfully it does get a lot better as you continue on. You’ll still notice it at times where there is a lot of action, but it didn’t seem to be too bad until you hit another mission around a large piece of land. All sea missions seemed to flow a lot better.
When you are not being slowed down by poor performance issues with the game, it’s still fun to battle it out with a number of different and upgradable planes. There are different types of missions that include air-to-air, air-to-ship, and air-to-ground combat. There are missions that even have you spying on and photographing enemy fleets. With all of these missions you will be using different aircraft almost every time. Although you do have the option to switch between what aircraft you use, you obviously will need a plane that packs a few bombs if you are doing an air-to-ground combat mission. The control of each plane feels decent, and each has its own attributes ranging from guns, speed, armor and agility. And of course each plane carries different weapons as well. Even with the poor performance issues dealing with the slowdown of the first mission, it was a lot of fun to replay that mission with one of the upgraded planes that you will get later on in the game. I beat the mission 7 minutes faster than I did the first time playing it.
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII – Gameplay Video (Air & Ground Combat Mission)
One more thing I took issue with in this game is that there is no in-between speed, there is fast and there is slow. You can’t even stall out by going to slow unless you are in route to land, which I must say is absolutely horrible. The takeoff and landing aspect to any flight game is one thing I look forward to the most and this game doesn’t allow it. You take off at the beginning, but it looks and feels bad. Also, you can only land when you are returning from a mission and it allows you to do so. But even when it comes to landing, it feels horrible. You slow down as you approach but this is one instance where the game allows you to stall out and crash, so you need to be careful about that. But once you get to your ship or the ground to land and you actually touchdown, it’s almost like a complete stop and it is just a horrible experience. That’s one thing I am truly disappointed in with this game.
Now playing with the Pacific AV8R flight stick is a heck of a lot of fun, who wouldn’t like flying with a flight stick? It feels good and is set up nicely for controlling your aircraft, selecting targets, bombing, firing on targets and everything else. It’s a great joy to play with and I would have to admit that it probably increases the enjoyment factor of this game. Without it, the game wouldn’t be the same, which may cause you to start focusing more on the negative elements of the game.
There are online multiplayer and co-op modes for you to play, but unfortunately I had a tough time finding people to play with or against. Thankfully when I did find people to play with it was a pretty good time. The versus combat turned into a missile launching fest at every turn, but you can control what type of planes you want to use so that you may avoid that. The co-op mode actually handled pretty well and that includes the first mission that has the slowdown issue. It still wasn’t smooth by any means, but it handled really well for an online co-op match. So, online co-op can offer you a good time if you are able to find others to play with. You can play the entire campaign that way.
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII definitely flirts with the arcade style of gameplay far more than simulation, but for anyone looking for a new aviation game, this is one that can be enjoyed, but unfortunately it’s not one that is a must own. If you do pick it up I bet you will enjoy it like any other flight related game, but you will have to look past its slowdown issues and deal with the choppy frame rate from time to time. But in the end, it’s a simple game all around with nothing that stands out besides the awesomeness of the flight stick. There are other flight games you should own before this one, but if you get the chance down the road you should check this one out.