Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review
Game: Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII
Developer: Trickstar Games
Publisher: Mad Catz
Available on: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Windows PC (Reviewed on Xbox 360)
Plenty of games allow us to live out some sort of fantasy, whether that’s in a fantasy RPG or a Formula 1 racing game, a lot of us play games to escape, so when I got a chance to play a flight sim, one that had a more arcade feel to it rather than the simulations that we’re more used to, I jumped at the chance. Developed by the Australian developer Trickstar Games and published by the peripheral specialists Mad Catz, Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII focuses on the American war in the Pacific against the Japanese. On paper it’s a decent place to focus a flight sim on, but is the game as good as it sounds on paper?
STORY: During your time in Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII you’ll be taking part in some of the major American battles of World War II. The game starts out with the attack on Pearl Harbor and goes all the way through to 1945 and the end of the war. If you’ve ever watched TV shows such as The Pacific, or are just familiar with the war in the Pacific then you’ll no doubt recognise some of the iconic battles that you’ll be taking part in.
The story is enjoyable enough, although the voice-acting and dialogue that’s written for the game often feels a little bit forced. The constant slew of enemies you’ll find yourself facing helps to keep the tension high, but each mission feels a little bit longer than it should be. If you’re a fan of World War II stories, especially stories of the war in the Pacific, then you’ll no doubt enjoy feeling a part of the battles that you’ve watched and read about, but if you’ve got no affinity for the time period then this story won’t do much to change your mind.
GRAPHICS: When you’re flying around the air – which you’ll be doing for most of your time in the game – the visuals aren’t too bad. The planes themselves are modelled to a decent standard and the environments look good when you’re flying above them at a decent height. However, when you’re on the ground at the start of a mission, or you just get closer to the ground during the course of your firefight, you’ll start to see aspects of the game that just don’t look as good as they could. All of the buildings are modelled extremely simplistically and never really fit in with the world that they’re in, and the textures of just about everything in the game are low quality. This is really only a problem when you’re on, or close to the ground, but it does rather take you out of the game.
The animated menu system of the game does help to give the entire experience a more arcade feel, which is the intended direction that the game takes on the whole. The simplicity in this area of the game really does feel well designed and suitable to the game, it’s just a shame that this simplicity found its way into the main missions, where it just makes the entire experience feel a little rushed.
SOUND: The most important aspect of the sound design in gameplay is all present and correct, the sounds of each of the planes, as well as the guns that you’re going to be firing all sound good enough to keep you immersed in the experience. The aspect of the sound design that does take you out of the experience, almost every single time, is the voice-acting. From the moment you start the game, to the moment the final credits start rolling, not one of the performances from the actors do enough to keep you within the experience. Every single line sounds forced, almost always said in a way that sounds as if there’s no emotion in the words at all; even right at the start of the game when the main character’s brother is shot down by the Japanese. Some of the lines that are spoken even sound like they’re a parody of themselves, often causing me to literally laugh out loud. I’m sure that wasn’t the intended effect but it could be a reason to buy the game in its own right, like the same reason why we watch bad films.
GAMEPLAY: The task that you’ll be presented with during each mission of Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is to clear the skies of enemy threats. Waves and waves of enemy planes, of various different shapes and sizes will make their way towards your base of operations and it’s your job to make sure they never get there. At the start of each mission you’ll be given a fairly simple task, usually something to do with scouting a particular area of the map, but it’s not long before the Japanese are bearing down on your position and you’ve got to take them out.
There are a couple of items that you’ve got at your disposal to make things feel a little bit more arcade-y. First and foremost you’ve got a switch which allows you to turbo charge your plane so you can get to those enemies quicker than usual. No more flying at “top speed” waiting for those enemy planes to come to you, flick the switch and take the fight to them. The opposite of this is the switch which slows down time, this switch allows you to make every shot count as you’re no longer flying around, getting a couple of shots in and missing with the rest, only to have to come around and do it all over again. The simple addition of these two mechanics make what could have been just another flight sim into something a little bit different, something that’s quite enjoyable despite its obvious downfalls.
If you’ve had your fill of the single player campaign then you could always try your hand at one of the multiple multiplayer modes that are available. Give most people a flight sim and all they’ll want to do is shoot down other people in the skies over the various Pacific islands, and that’s absolutely something that you can do in the Versus Mode. As with any multiplayer game however, the amount of games that you’re going to be able to play with other people is dependant on whether or not there are people online to play with.
Speaking of having other people to play with, there’s a co-op mode for players that want to take to the skies with friends. The only downside to this option is that there’s no way to play with other people locally, so you can’t get a couple of friends round and play together on the same TV. This limits things somewhat but it’s still nice to have a co-op option, even if that option forces you to play online, diminishing the experience a little.
LONGEVITY: Once you’ve played through the entirety of Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII, there’s really no reason to pick up the game and play through it again. There’s always the multiplayer options, allowing the player to jump online to and take down other players in the Versus modes, or play together in the co-op modes, but without the option to play local co-op things are always going to feel just that little bit too distant to be something that you’d do on a regular basis. The game is relatively fun on the whole but there’s really not much to keep people coming back for more.
VERDICT: Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is a game that obviously tries very hard to be something special, it’s a lot more accessible than some of the more realistic flight sims out there, and if you’re lucky enough to get the version of the game that comes with the Mad Catz peripheral, then you’re going to have quite a bit of fun shooting those enemy planes out of the air. Unfortunately though, lacklustre visuals, terrible voice acting and repetitive missions that always feel like they last twice as long as they actually should, stop the game from reaching heights it otherwise could have.