Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII strives for accuracy as the guys at Trickstar Games offer a flight game that truly attempts to simulate the hardships of World War II. But Damage Inc. is not a complicated flight sim as it is more of an entry-level approach that is easy for new players of the flight genre to transition. It’s a small easy step, and such a small easy step it is.
Damage Inc. puts you in the cockpit of a huge variety of aircrafts as you battle against the Japanese during the World War II Pacific Theater. Adding a little tension and drama into the mix, your brother Jimmy ends up dying and now the story becomes a tale of retribution! At least, that’s all good and great until you hear the delivery of the story in-game. The voice acting is not terrible, but some work with the voice direction could have made it more believable.
Story aside, Damage Inc. offers about 12 hours worth of missions split between 23 missions. All missions can be tackled with up to four players in online co-op. The length of some of the missions are unbalanced, some taking as short as 15 or as long as an hour to complete. While checkpoints are frequently laced around in case you fail or die, you cannot leave the game and resume from that checkpoint at a later time. Your ass is committed to completing your mission, and there’s more than plenty of Japanese planes and ships to take down.
To differentiate Damage Inc. from other games of its kind, you have access to warspeed and reflex mode, which are ways to speed up the pace of the game and to slow down to pick off targets when needed. Warspeed boosts your plane’s speed, much like throwing out your afterburner. While the intended function is to get you from one objective to another, it doesn’t give that sense of speed that you’re going any faster than normal despite that you actually are. It serves as a great way to break away from a dogfight in case you need to reposition yourself against the pack of enemies you’re taking down. Reflex mode is like an infinite bullet time. At first I figured it would be something to help new players get into the game by slowing the game down, only to find out that it becomes a huge asset and almost needed in some situations. Because of how sensitive your sights are, you’ll be spending most of your time in reflex mode to wrestle with it.
Dogfighting is a huge hassle even with the AV8R Stick that comes with the collector’s edition and even with the red-dot lead guide that tells you where to shoot to compensate for enemy distance. When you do eventually hit something, it does leave a satisfying taste as the sound of bullets penetrating through metal is never a sound that will get old, and watching the enemy parachute out as you laugh at their faces is always fun. However, positioning yourself right can take a lot of getting used to, in fact I find that playing with the “Arcade” control settings which were meant to be easier ends up being much more difficult to properly line up shots.
There are plenty of aircrafts to mess around with and each of them have their pros and cons. Want to go stupidly fast? There are jet fighters out there that are fast, light but also weak. Bomber planes will bring you low to the ground to lay waste on buildings and ships. The variety is fun, especially to experiment with. I’m sure those that really know their World War II planes will get a kick out of the authenticity of the planes.
There’s not much to talk about in the presentation of Damage Inc. Between missions, you’re given animated cutscenes. Other than that, the graphics are sub-standard to various other games in this genre this generation. There’s not much in terms of additional content other than bonus objectives within the missions. There is multiplayer and it’s fun when you get in a full room, offering different modes including a base vs. base game called Scratch One Flat-top where you must work together to take down the opposing team’s carrier. Unfortunately, the reality is that many may end up brushing Damage Inc. away to the point where the multiplayer may not see the needed traffic to keep it going.
The Saitek Pacific AV8R Flight Stick is not required but it does make the game more entertaining. Is it worth slapping down the extra money for the collector’s edition? It does work with other flight games such as Ace Combat, Blazing Angels, Birds of Steel, and a few others, even After Burner Climax despite it not listed in the manual. The build quality is decent, though it could definitely use some weight. It also has leg supports that allow you to rest and lock the stick to your leg.
Damage Inc. is not the most impressive game out there despite adding in features that makes it unique. Instead, it’s a game that complements a new flight stick and overall it isn’t a bad pairing. By itself, Damage Inc. isn’t much to celebrate about. It won’t impress you with its visuals, the gameplay may lead into more frustration than entertainment, and the multiplayer will virtually be non-existent after the initial rush. But to those that are willing to see through all that, it’s a World War II experience that allows new players of the genre a pick-up and play experience that will lead as a gateway, especially with the flight stick in tow.