Review by DandyQuackShot
"I Bought it For the Flight Stick"
After seeing the poster advertisement for Damage Inc., I was stoked to see that another WW2 fighter game was coming out and this time with the new Saitek Pacific AV8TER FlightStick. After picking up the Collector's Edition of Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WW2 (could anyone think of a longer name for a game) I found that the flight stick was the most enjoyable (and the stickers) of this purchase. Damage Inc. is a typical arcade combat flight game with a few obvious game flaws that does not live up to the competition of simulation games like Birds of Steel and Ace Combat or to the arcade style games of Heroes Over Europe and Blazing Angels.
Damage Inc. is a single player game split up between the tremendous 12 hour campaign mode and the online cooperative and competitive matches. The game starts off fast as you are introduced to the pilot you play as (who has no name) and tells how the Dust Bowl in the Okies caused him and his brother to grow up during the Depression as his father looked for work in the city. Lacking productive work he joins the Navy as a pilot and his brother (who is named) becomes a Marine. You are then started off in Pearl Harbor where the Japanese are about to launch a surprise birthday party on the docked fleet. The retelling of the history is very good in this game, but you get the typical debriefing guy and radio chatter that takes away from the historicity of many games like Damage Inc.
Suffice it to say you will end up having to fight the war from beginning to end with all major Pacific war scenarios intact but lacking the feel of just how big this war was in the Pacific. A lot of the vehicles and other things in this game are miniscule compared to the vast landscapes featured in the game. Your first targets to shoot at are some old rusted out jeeps but you will only see the yellow target icons and hardly anything but trees sticking out everywhere. Boats are also small in comparison with your plane. Why dive bomb an aircraft carrier when you can just crash into it and cause a massive fire on the whole thing? Playing the campaign is tough when it comes to the length of it and the obvious flaws in the difficulty. The biggest issue I had with this game is that it is almost impossible to be shot down. Plenty of planes will get up on you, but even on the hardest difficulty it is almost impossible for enemy planes to put you down. Where the difficulty lies in Damages Inc. are the objectives and having to be quick and precise or fail an objective where something you have to protect is quickly destroyed. I had to replay several objective points to be able to finally pass a spot where being fast was key.
The missions last a long time and can drain you of motivation to keep fighting and not request shore leave to Tokyo. You have to complete a series of objectives and bonus objectives for each mission. These will help you upgrade and unlock new planes for later missions. But without worrying about being shot down, just keep the throttle down and the ammo recharging. Rockets, bombs, and ammunition all respawn after a few seconds. This game is not so much on being a simulation. You can expect all the typical things of an arcade game with Damage Inc. such as the target icons and easy maneuverability of the planes. The controls are a little different but still very easy with both the controller and the flight stick. Landing is way too easy in this game. Think Turn and Burn: No Fly Zone for SNES.
Online is dead on arrival. I was able to find only one open game in the competitive mode and one game in the cooperative mode to join. The community is sporadic at best and I do not see it garnering any devoted fans. For the multiplayer you have the standard dogfight and team dogfight as well as a survival and team survival and a special carrier attack. The cooperative allows you to take the campaign online with up to four players. This helps in breaking up the campaign instead of just playing it by yourself. You will need to hunt up some partners though.
If you can make it through the very long campaign you should be able to pick up most of the achievement points. Finding a buddy online will help a lot in securing the achievements unlocked by playing online.
Pacific AV8TER Flight Stick
It's pretty freaking sweet. The flight stick gives this game a much needed simulation feel, but the even better thing about the flight stick is that it is compatible for all other flight games out today. Only the Aces Edge flight stick was out for the Xbox 360 and so this one gives players another chance for a more authentic experience. One thing about this flight stick that stands out however are the rudder controls. You have to twist the stick to be able to make the needed turns. I didn't pick up on this until later but after figuring it out it made flying much more easy. As with other flight sticks you will have to get used to using it as lining up for aerial kills is more difficult than using a controller. The added difficulty of completing objectives in a small amount of time in this game gives the flight stick a stumbling introduction than if you used it for other games like Ace Combat or Birds of Steel. The flight stick has a little assembly required but as eager as I was (and probably dorky) I had picked this up on my lunch break and had it mounted on my car dash on the commute home in no time. There are pinup and nose art stickers that come with the flight stick separately as well as a manual for the two different modes you can fly with this thing.
Final Recommendation 6/10
For the Collector's Edition of Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WW2, I would say you are on your way to enjoying much more than just the game. The flight stick is well worth it for any flight simulation fan and the last time a flight stick came out for the 360 it became very valuable and hard to find. Hopefully that will be the case for this game, but if not you can still use if for any other flight game already out. As for the game itself I would say just pick it up much later on when it drops in price. There is nothing special about this game that would make it worth buying at full price. Game play and graphic flaws hurt this game big time and the long drawn out missions and lack of multiplayer will take it out of you. Of all the WW2 combat flight games out there my number one recommendation is still and always be Birds of Steel. Had I bought only the game, this would have been a more negative review.
Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 09/04/12
Game Release: Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WWII (Collector's Edition) (US, 08/28/12)
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