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Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review

Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Logo - We Know Gamers

Ah, the humble flight sim, a genre as old as the PC itself. But despite the lack of dynamic changes to the formula, these electronic recreations of aviation never cease to capture the imagination of wannabe pilots everywhere. This bold attempt is brought to you by developer Trickstar Games and is published by the legendary gaming accessories magnate Mad Catz. And what do you know? Damage Inc. is promoted with its own Mad Catz flight controller. A coincidence you ask? If only.

Damage Inc. is a WWII combat flight sim that focuses on the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 and the subsequent battles thereafter. Player’s take the role of an American rookie fighter pilot who must battle the impeding Japanese invasion fleets over the course of a twenty level campaign.
I'm flying in the air!
It would be safe to assume that the concept of flying through the air, shooting down enemy planes would make for an exciting experience. Sadly the campaign missions are incredibly bland, leaving no room for any thrills which continuously slows down the overall pace of the game. The only real incentive to charge through the campaign is in order to unlock the additional content on offer. The game bolsters an impressive selection of over thirty aircraft to pilot which can be fitted with a robust range of improvements, upgrades, colour schemes and decals.

Damage Inc. also includes a few online modes as well. However the majority of the multiplayer battles are no more than a range of tired old archetypes. Dogfight is a simple Death Match variant which can be played as a free-for-all or in teams. Survival mode is simply Dogfight but with limited lives. The more original mode in the bunch is bestowed with the amusing title of ‘Scratch one Flattop’ in which teams have to destroy the enemy air craft carrier while defending their own. While it isn’t that much more interesting than the other modes at least it offers an objective in which to encourage a little bit of team work between players.

Players also have the opportunity to play through the campaign missions co-operatively and both upgrades and campaign progression can be achieved in this mode. So it begs to question why anyone with an internet connection would be willing to go it alone when more fun and progress could be achieved with the additional help.

However the greatest challenge to be had in the multiplayer portion of the game is finding other players in the first place. Lobbies are practically baron and it can easily take up to half an hour to get a full game going even during peak times of the evening. Also it does not help that the potential for enjoyment is diminished even more thanks to the games questionable net code.

Flight simulators are not usually known for sporting any sort of dynamic presentation. But commendably Damage Inc. tries to rectify this by adding a little bit of sparkle. The art style of the main menus is simply gorgeous and really pops out with its simple, yet effective use of bold two tone colours.

This art style is also used extensively during the games many cut scenes which serve to add additional narrative and insight into the social politics of the time period it’s set in. The slick and professional visual aesthetic does also help to drive some small amount of attachment and motivation into the otherwise boring campaign.
I brought the crew with me.
Typically flight sims tend to be near the cutting edge of graphics at the time of their release. Damage Inc’s main visuals however are far from the best that the PC currently has to offer. While the planes themselves look good for the most part the environments are just as unimpressive and empty as the campaign itself. The locations are sparse and contain little to no detail at all, and to top it off the lack of anti- aliasing options can turn the game into a real eyesore. Another major drawback is the more than occasional drop in frame rate which not only looks ugly, but makes the experience a real chore as movement staggers constantly from rough to smooth.

The games draw distance however is surprisingly competent and works very well allowing players to see the enemy from an incredibly long range. This refined feature thankfully allows long distance combat to work, and does not ruin what is essentially the main meat and drink of the game.

Damage Inc. offers two main modes of set-up which affect both the camera angle and even the overall control scheme. The first is Simulation mode which offers exactly what you would expect of a standard flight sim. Though fine for the most part, there is however problems when it comes to the camera control. In order to change the camera angle, players must pause the game and trawl through the menus until the option is found. Why a single button to change the camera couldn’t be implement is downright baffling. The other control scheme on offer is Arcade mode which reduces the total number of buttons used and restricts the camera to a behind the plane third person view.

Also worth noting is the inclusion of the reflex mode, which is the power to slow down time in order to allow players to hit their targets during those crucial moments. But the most bizarre thing is not only can reflex mode be activated in both Arcade and Simulation modes, but it can also be used for an infinite amount of time with no penalties or draw backs. With such design decisions and the lack of a serious tutorial it becomes puzzling as to who the intended audience is for this game.

Damage Inc is riddled with embarrassing design decisions throughout. One of the most frustrating by far is the complete lack of controller prompts even during the paltry excuse of a tutorial mission. Every time the player is introduced to a new element, they have no way of knowing how it is done. Even more embarrassing, is the fact that either changing or simply viewing the controls cannot be done when the game is paused; players must quit the current mission to go back to the main menu.
I've been hit... I think?
Speaking of the controls, they are certainly a mixed bag but only depending on which control method you end up using. If you go for the default keyboard option then some problems will eventually arise. The keyboard controls feel very un-natural, and many times throughout the game players will have to occasionally cross hands which is counterproductive. Also to rub salt in the wound there is no option to use the mouse at all. Luckily the game offers the ability to use any PC game controller where the majority of these problems disappear very quickly. Of course the game is also compatible with the new Mad Catz Pacific AV8R Flight Stick, which sadly seems like the only reason for the game's existence. However the stick only comes bundled with the special edition of the game. Otherwise it has to be purchased separately from the Mad Catz store.

Final Verdict
Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WWII is a purely average, run of the mill kind of game. It’s hard to recommend to anyone which is shame because it is not a bad game by any means. Sadly it is something far more ugly than that. Plain, predictable and easily forgettable, Damage Inc. is a mere shallow attempt at selling a tech demo in order to convince the purchase of a few extra flight controllers.

Gameplay = 4/10
Graphics = 5/10
Design = 3/10

Final We Know Gamers Score = 4/10
Had a chance to play the game? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review
Reviewed by Spencer Marshman
on Sept 18 2012

Rating: 4/10

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