My selection of flight sim games for the Playstation 3 is quite staggering. Every new release that comes around in the genre, I manage to find in my posession and generally enjoy quite a bit. One very important piece of equipment somehow managed to always be missing; a proper flight stick. Enter the Pacific AV8R Flight Stick, a flight stick designed for (but not limited to) Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII.
The overall look and feel is modeled after flight sticks of the era. So the design cues you see on the Pacific AV8R are not modern in the slightest. The buttons and toggle switches along the front face of the base are even painted a brushed aluminum to give it that extra touch of authenticity. The stylized stick portion has a comfortable rubber grip and a trigger that takes little effort to depress (not to mention a nice, audible click every time you fire).
Going from a Dualshock to a flight stick of any sort is a challenge, but not without reward. The sense of immersion aside, the tension you get from this controller just puts flying sims on a whole different level. I grew up playing flight sims on the PC (explains a lot, right?) and had an ancient flight controller I used. You simply can’t get the same kind of experience from a flight sim with an analog controller, and this model will not disappoint.
The buttons at the head of the stick are the only awkward part of the AV8R. The Triangle button and Square button are not in their usual locations, so instinctively trying to press one of those buttons goes awry without some thought put into the process first. You do adjust, mind you, but it puts you in an aggravating position during your early minutes with the stick.
With Damage Inc., the AV8R works great. If you opted to buy the controller separate, it takes a little more setting up to get going. Birds of Steel is advertised to work with the AV8R, and by all means it does- it just took half an hour to get things tweaked to be able to play with it. If this is your first console flight stick (like mine), just be forewarned that it does work it just takes some prep work. It seemed every preset I went to used the controller to a certain degree, but had something left off I had to go in and tinker with. Or the epic throttle control (it just feels epic to use, because of how it is modeled) was not sensitive enough. After I finally settled on a setting, Birds of Steel became a whole different game.
Saitek did a fantastic job bringing a stylized flight stick to the market alongside Damage Inc. You get a completely different sense of flying games with a flight controller, and you just can’t replicate that with a Dualshock or XBOX controller. The World War II theme is not only fitting for a slew of those games, but it carries that nostalgic aviators charm with it. This controller belongs on any console flight sim pilot’s desk.