Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review

It’s a real shame when a game starts well, but by the end has revealed itself to be medicore, which is unfortunately how I found my time with the new aerial combat game Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII. It starts off with an awful lot of promise, but ends up being a disappointingly mediocre game.

When you first pop in the game and start the campaign mode you’ll be treated to a gorgeous wartime painted story cutscene, with images in the vein of old wartime posters. With a well written and acted voiceover track it gives a good sense of your character’s backstory and sets up for the experience quite nicely. The game’s plane designs were all interesting and unique, and the missions felt fairly varied, but this is unfortunately where things began to go downhill.

The first problem I came across was the game’s visuals. Once you get out of the introductory cutscene and into the actual gameplay you’ll find blurry textures, jagged edges and texture pop-in as the engine tries to keep up with the speed at which your plane is flying. The planes themselves look pretty good if you are able to see them fly past quickly at a short range, but otherwise the game looks fairly forgettable, and the visuals leave a lot to be desired.

The game’s biggest issues are design choices that may not bother everyone, but for me were frustrating enough to hamper my enjoyment significantly. Firstly, rather than shooting at the enemy aircraft, you’re meant to shoot at a small red dot in front of their flight path. This is never explained while playing the game and while it is meant to replicate the act of compensating for the movement of the aircraft you’re targeting, in practice it just feels unintuitive. In the middle of a fast paced fight my reaction was to aim at the enemy aircraft, which unfortunately had no effect.

On the topic of aiming at enemy aircraft, the game’s controls really don’t support the main mechanic of shooting down planes in a way that feels fun to play. The way you’re turning circles, the aiming speed and sensitivity, and the speed of your aircraft all come together to create a situation where actually aiming and firing at an enemy plane is annoyingly difficult. The game has an option to slow down time around you to a near standstill in order to give you time to aim, but this mechanic goes too far the other way making hitting aircraft far too easy. With the difficulty of speed removed, aerial combat loses it’s appeal. If the game had a middle ground between these two extremes that would have gone a long way to improving the experience.

The game has an online multiplayer mode, but the control issues that plague the single player are only magnified when playing against human opponents. I played several matches which ended with people rage quitting due to their inability to actually land a hit on the opponent.

Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is available to buy bundled with Mad Catz‘s newest flight stick, which I was unfortunately unable to test out. If playing with the flight stick significantly improves the ability to control your aircraft then the game would be worth looking at, but for those with just the regular controller this game, while ambitious, ended up becoming a frustration rather than a joy to play.

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