REVIEW: Damage Inc., Pacific Squadron World War II
Title: Damage Inc., Pacific Squadron World War II
Platform: Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 / PC (reviewed on Xbox 360)
Developer: Mad Catz
Publisher: Mad Catz
TL;DR: I swear, if I hear the term “Jap” one more time…
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The year is 1941. Pearl Harbor is under attack. Germany is doing its thing across the sea, and meanwhile you’re introduced as a farming kid from Oklahoma, one of the many boys eager to get in on the action during World War II. For all plot purposes, Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron World War II presents an accurate account of the times.
Right down to the racial slurs you’ll hear every five seconds.
Your character remains nameless throughout the conflict, instead being referred to as “Rogue Leader.” As you take to the skies, it will become readily apparent that this is no Star Fox knock-off. Actually, it felt like Star Fox without any of the fun parts. Just shoot, hit the throttle, and chase the bad guys down.
“…it felt like Star Fox without any of the fun parts.”
The entire plot of the game very much follows the events of World War II from an aerial point of view, as you will be piloting various forms of airplanes for the whole game. There’s no surprise here — I won’t say SPOILER! but yeah, the good guys win in the end. Any mission failures and you’ll be asked to restart from a non-existing checkpoint. Which is atrocious, by the way.
Your beginning stage takes you through a quick tutorial of how to pilot your aircraft, the finer nuances of how to take-off, how to land, and how to shoot. The rest is entirely up to you to figure out, and sometimes fiddling with the flight stick might end up seeing you as a heaping, burning mess on the ground.
The controls are mighty awkward in Pacific Squadron, I’ll give it that much. Imagine my surprise when I tilted the left control stick around and found that, despite the button-mapping proclaiming it was inverted, it wasn’t. It was a big fat lie. We won’t even discuss the right control stick and its magical barrel-rolling properties. As far as I knew, it didn’t serve any real purpose except maybe give me a brief bout of vertigo and motion sickness.
Maneuverability is definitely going to be the least of your problems, as the combat itself leaves much to be desired. Against a poorly rendered sky that made me wonder if I was flying around in a sky-colored snow globe, you will begin every mission on the ground, and will be instructed to take-off. Throttle up, point your plane upwards, and away you go. Every single mission.
Then the enemy pilots come in (and they’re Japanese, in case central control didn’t already remind you a million times during the debriefing), and you have to go chase them down, “lock on,” and shoot them down.
At the end of each mission, and before you start the next, you’ll be given the option to upgrade your current airplane, or basically buy a new one. The best tip to know with this game is that speed will be your friend. Turning and catching up to the enemy is a bitch, and if you’re flying a giant fortress in the sky, chances are you’ll fail every single mission before you can even get a shot off. Yes, I went there.
Things get pretty stale pretty quick, much like last night’s cornflakes left out on the counter. Each mission is divided into waves, and a checkpoint will usually save right after a wave is finished. Just when you think you’re done with whatever, well, an oil tanker comes under attack. Or a supply line. Or a submarine has been sighted just off-shore of whatever island you happen to be patrolling. As mission control finishes briefing you mid-mission, your enemy markers will always send you to the opposite end of the current map.
That’s how you prolong the experience, right?
What might seem like a gentle flight towards your targets sounds simple, but it’s deceivably not simple. You must always go full steam ahead, or it’s an 80% chance that you’ll fail the mission and be asked to go back to the last checkpoint. Pain in the ass right? It really is, and I wasn’t impressed by any of it at all.
“It gets pretty stale pretty quick, much like last night’s cornflakes left out on the counter.”
Two minutes of solid flying, a few bullets, and some racial slurs later, the mission was finally over. The next few missions brought more of the same tired formula, and by the time I reached the third (yeah, it really did feel like forever), I was wishing that I had stuck to playing Resident Evil 6. At least there was some semblance of fun in that game.
While Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron would do as a simple itch-scratcher for those wanting a flying game, there’s certainly better games out there you could watch out for. Then again, there’s also worse games out there too, but not by much.
With voice acting that would be best used as a college example of how not to sound when trying to be overly convincing, and graphics that make you wonder if this should’ve stayed on the original Xbox, Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron is anything but enticing and entertaining. Thanks to some awkwardly mapped controls and a constant reminder that back in the day we weren’t shy about being racist, the deal was sealed. I just wish it hadn’t found its way onto my games list, because now it’s tainted.
If you’re seriously that morbidly curious about Pacific Squadron, just try the demo. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Fighting the Good Fight
- Scratches the itch of flight-sim junkies.
- It has a little entertainment once you understand how the system works.
Sorry, missed your flight.
- I’m guessing they didn’t have much in the ways of voice-acting budget.
- A flight game like this really shouldn’t be this complicated, should it?
- It gets stale pretty quick.
Damage Inc., Pacific Squadron WWII is available across all major platforms.
There’s mild cussing and racial slurs, and well, follows the true events of World War II. It’s certainly not material suitable for the little kids, but it has gotten a PEGI 12 and ESRB equivalent. Keep it that way.