Lets get the puns out of the way quickly: Damage Inc Pacific Squadron is plane boring. World War 2 apparently consisted of an irritating flight commander telling a rookie, who somehow seems to be the head of an entire squadron after 4 months worth of training, to help out ‘Ally A’ and stop ‘Enemy B’ from destroying something mightily important that you, the player, don’t care about.
What is perhaps most disappointing is that the beginning presentation is hugely promising. The stylised menus are a nice mesh of Battlefield: 1943, Toy Soldiers and the first Bionic Commando remake with bright colours and almost comic esque illustrations. Then you start the game and it all goes a bit downhill.
The game starts off just before Pearl Harbor, and tells the tale of a farmers son who has experienced the Great Depression and all and decides to join the air force, along with his brother, as the Nazis and Japanese have essentially created a job market for America. The way the story is presented is ,frankly, rubbish as it comes off as bad history lesson, making the Americans stand tall over the war warmongering Europeans, whilst vaguely accurate, is a tiresome approach . Oh and , in typical fashion, only our hero can save the day against the Japanese menace, with the one man army approach being played to death, made even worse by the attempt to market this game as a realistic fighter sim. The plot takes you all the way to Iwo Jima so has a large amount of missions for you to wade through, and I do mean wade, as, evidenced by the fact that I start this review with the menus being a highlight, game play is dull and boring.
Although it seems to bill itself as a simulation of WWII plains, the opposite is true and the game couldn’t be anymore arcade based if it tried. Flying requires little to no intuition with there never being a indication of how fast you are supposed to be going. Weapons feel ineffective and dog fighting boils down to firing at a red dot in front of the plane you want to destroy and hoping for the best. Furthermore, the developers have even managed to introduce a ‘hyper speed’ setting for your fighter that actually manages to further highlight how goddamn awful the landscape you are fighting for is. Even more amazingly is the inclusion of bullet time that almost never runs out completely depleting the WWII reality aspect as well as getting rid of any difficulty level . Missions boil down to World of Warcraft style objectives that every gamer across the world hates; kill 5 planes, protect a transport for 2 minutes, kill 5 more plans, repeat until mission is down/player loses the will to live.
You are given a choice of planes that you slowly unlock over the course of the game. Upgrades to these occur with an in game star system that are unlocked when you complete certain objectives. It would seem that the US Airforce had stringent time scales back in the day as almost any objective is time based, with getting rid of the enemies quickly boiling down to destroy 10 planes in 2 minutes; realistic this isnt. The upgrades don’t really seem to do much other than give the already blocky looking planes a new coat of paint and a set of guns that sounds like a cap gun rather than the gun you had before that also sounded exactly the same. I found myself sticking with essentially the same plane through the course of all the missions as there rarely seemed to be any large difference in control or speed.
For something as extreme as dog fighting, the art of precise flying ability and aim to try and knock out your enemy, to end up being so boring is a phenomenal achievement. It is far easier to completely ignore the throttle, wait for the enemy planes to fly past and mow them down rather than follow them around a map. The maps themselves are large, spacious and equally as soul destroying and dull as the rest of the game play with lots of green and grey with tiny buildings that look more at home in the first Flight Simulator games that arrived on the PC all those years ago rather than a current generation console. Explosions look like rubbish fireworks and , therefore , the payoff for defeating your quarry is minimal .Pearl Harbor was the stronghold of the US Navy so why oh why is it populated with 3 ships and a few barracks; the attack was an epic event in US Naval history and it seems that the developers hoped your imagination would come into play to try and fill in the gaps they left in the level design.
Voice acting is wooden and full of more clichés than all of the Modern Warfare games put together. Emotional draw is also nonexistent, with the main character treating the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent death of his brother on the same day ,as if he stood on some chewing gum and had to wipe it off of his shoe. The fact that the character you are supposed to relate too doesn’t care about that huge amount of trauma gives you another reason not to give a damn about anything else that happens in the game.
Multiplayer is a no go area, with population levels consisting of yourself and the one or two other people who thought buying this game would be a good idea. Human opponents tend to be far more erratic than their AI counterparts and so dog fighting turns from cat and mouse action to going around in a circle constantly until one of you gets bored and leaves.
Failed simulation or arcade nightmare. Whatever you want to call it, Damage Inc is not worth your time or your money. Plenty of other games do these action sequences far better, without the complete miss sell that this game manages, and also creates game play opportunities that are exciting or enjoyable. Watching Pearl Harbor, the bloated Ben Affleck starring film, is definitely less painful than playing this game, and, to be honest, that should show how much time this game is actually worth.