Review: Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII

 

I was making my final approach to the aircraft carrier waiting for me in the Pacific Ocean. Fresh from ravaging Japanese destroyers with torpedos, I was ready to land my airplane and call it a day. This particular mission was a grueling half hour long ordeal and I welcomed that landing so I could take a break. I reduced the throttle, listening to the whir of the motor decrease. At the last moment, I realized I had dropped the throttle too much and couldn’t pull up. I crashed into the hull of the carrier, sighed with frustration, and restarted the checkpoint. That was when it happened: the game crashed.

Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is a flight sim set in the World War II era. You play a squadron leader, and run through some partially historically accurate missions. If you’re used to the flight sim schtick, it doesn’t do much to vary from it. The narrative is generic and offers nothing more than setting the tone for the mission you are about to embark on. Let me retrace mysteps a little, though. The story Damage Inc. tries to tell isn’t a bad one, it just never grabbed me. I can name four other flight sims on the Playstation 3, and out of those, only two had an interesting campaign in terms of plot and narrative.

Let’s be realistic though: we don’t play flight sims to be engaged in a story. That just comes as a bonus from time to time. We play these games for epic scenary, thrilling dogfights and great physics. Trickstar Games, who released the modern flight sim JASF last year (my review here), delivers on a few of those fronts. The physics on both arcade and sim are solid and easy to grasp. Granted, I am a little bit of a veteren in this department, but I found arcade physics to be smooth and engaging and simulation physics to be more of a challenge to work with.

Scenery is a bit hit or miss with Damage Inc.. Flying over the Pacific Ocean (read: the water and sky) tends to look good, but when flying over land, structures and ground cover textures (like trees and general foliage) get a little messy. The planes themselves aren’t the best in their class, but when coupled with the ocean scenery, have that little extra something that makes them pretty to look at.

So far, everything is sounding good ,right? We have semi-pretty planes over pretty water with good physics. Mission pacing gets a little frustrating, mostly for my biggest caveat with the game, which I will get to later. Some of the missions are about 10-15 minutes. This feels like the perfect amount of time to be up in the air, doing your thing. Other missions put you through a gauntlet of objectives where you land half an hour later, with little recollection on how that particular tour started.  This isn’t a big deal, mind you, just something I found a little aggravating.

Here’s where things start to fall apart. Throughout the missions, the game will flip to a cutscene to further “explain” what is happening. During these, I encountered a lovely bug that made my plane disappear and pretty much crashed my game. It happened more than once (I’d say about four times in the first half of the game), and each time, I had to restart the whole mission. A colleague played this on the X360 system (I’m playing on the Playstation 3 obviously), and he encountered the same problems. You can’t properly enjoy a game when you have to restart levels due to game crashes.

Game play is also marred by some serious frame rate drops that make dogfights less enjoyable and more of a chore. Luckily, they don’t happen all the time, but when the framerate issues do pop up, the game is completely unplayable. It’s these hurdles that ruin any sort of fun you are having and turn an enjoyable experience into a frustrating one.

With the exception of optional AV8R flight stick bundle, Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII does not hold up to the standards set by other flight sims released in the past year. If the frame rate issues and crashes weren’t a part of the equation, I could recommend this to hardcore flight sim fanatics like myself. But in it’s current, buggy state, it’s hard to enjoy.

Pros:

  • Flying over the Pacific is quite pretty
  • Bugs aside, flying is a lot of fun. Enjoyed the selection of planes the game offers.
  • If you get the AV8R flight stick bundle….that stick is slick. (separate review coming soon)

Cons:

  • Constant game crashes, and disappearing planes
  • Frame rate drops during certain instances made dogfights hard to manage
2/5

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Author: Don Parsons View all posts by
Starting out as a founding member of Gamingcore Podcast, Don ventured on to start Gameciety; which began as a podcast, and ended as a blog. Don now handles Vagary.tv's PR work, is part of the reviews staff and has various other little projects he does for the site.