Published on August 28th, 2012 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII Review
Developer: Trickstar Games
Publisher: Mad Catz
Platform: Xbox 360 [Reviewed], PlayStation 3
Release Date: Aug. 28, 2012
Price: $49.99 game only
Review Notes: GAMINGtruth received sample product for review purposes.
When Mad Catz jumped into the realm of game publisher/developer, many people were doubtful of their new found embodiment.
Mad Catz has a history stemming from a track record of moderately successful gaming accessories. After quite a significant change in direction, the company has been revamped, even purchasing such companies as gaming headset giant, Tritton, which itself is considered one of the top players in the gaming headset market. Other companies, such as flight hardware developer Saitek, now bear the Mad Catz logo.
This is aside from other such gaming hardware as mice and pro-grade controllers that are already making quite a huge splash in the world of competitive gaming. The company now has turned publisher, bringing forth a game.
The storyline of the Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII is nothing to really shake a stick at. The backdrop of the story is of course the various countries in war and how the United States enters what we know as World War II. You take the role of Reaper Leader, a man who has set out into the Navy as a pilot, while his brother Jimmy, a Marine. Both joined prior to the war and the recent events have pulled them, along with the rest of the United States forces, into the battle. Now, the two brothers must give Japanese forces everything they’ve got.
While the story might be like that of any other red-blooded American at the time, the voice acting of the game didn’t really drive that feeling completely home. There were many instances where the unmotivated dialogue was laughable–but not in the “I’m laughing with you” kind of way. It was less than par, and for a game that wanted to bring some sort of connectivity between the player and brother who was also endearing the war efforts by your side — it fell flat.
The resurrection to the storyline has got to be the gameplay. There were times where I would forget the reality of the world around me, strictly focusing on the dogfight that was occurring on screen. I was Reaper Leader and I was sure as hell not going to let the Japs take me or my squad down. The game did however suffer from various bugs, some not allowing me to complete levels, and forcing a complete restart from the beginning of the level. A patch has already been delivered and another is more than likely on the way.
Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII itself revisits some of the most destructive battles in history, including Pearl Harbor and Wake Island. The game doesn’t necessarily encompass specific air battles per se, but pits us historically in the center of them. Strategic locations of the war, like those of Pearl Harbor, become the center piece to the story of our fighter pilot and the progression of the United States into the war.
The history is definitely one area where Damage Inc. excels. The game provides brief commentary and real video segments after a mission has been completed in that region. The briefings prior to each battle also allows for the blending of both storytelling and history.
For those who haven’t been playing the span of World War II shooters that have told and retold the many battles of the great war, it gives us a refresher and brings us back to the events leading into it. There are also bits of statistical information–like the example that the nationwide unemployment rate reached as low as 5 percent during wartime–that keep the game realistic and gave way to the scope of how invested Americans were in wartime. This is aside from the real life battle locations and scaled model of each plane.
The art style of the game is something like an oil painting and even reminiscent of propaganda imagery from that era. The clouds and scenery in the game are not necessarily a dive into realism, but they are however reflective of the mentioned style. Even with this artsy expose of cumulus clouds it is still possible to climb skyward and zip through the puffy formations. Powdery clouds flare with colors of reds and oranges at sunset, while flak debris and exploding planes litter the sky.
The game doesn’t feature many weather effects until later missions. Sleet and other elemental factors reflect the varied landscapes that the war took place in. Other subtle details, such as the surf lines and ocean drop offs can be visible on an islands coast, and play into this same style. Although these areas, along with plane designs, are glorious to look at, other small landscape details didn’t receive as much attention.
Some islands of the game and flat ground look as though they were from a previous era of gaming. Bland details of buildings and sea craft are some of the not so pretty incorporations. Taking out a squad of enemy soldiers should be an easy task when armed with six rockets to fire off. Instead, these small soldiers move about looking nothing more than small blocks on a flat surface. This was also the case when looking at details inside the plane. Instrument gauges are simple images and do not spin or move despite the planes avid gyrations.
For some, graphics aren’t everything. An immersive and fun experience can outweigh minor graphical gripes. The collector’s edition of the game includes the Saitek Pacific AV8R flight stick, which is a must have for this, or any flying game for that matter. The flight stick was probably the coolest, if not most badass thing that could have been packaged with the game. Here I was expecting to simply play a WWII themed air fighter, and to my surprise, the planes guts were delivered.
The stick hooks up via USB, so there isn’t another piece of equipment that you’ve got to find batteries for. Other Saitek flight sticks are also compatible with the game. The stick is quite responsive and simply made playing with the controller a turn-off. Trust me, after a few unsuccessful attempts at one level in the game, I thought, “Hm, maybe the ‘360 controller would be easier?” After attempting its use and failing, it was back to the stick.
The base of the Pacific AV8R is pretty sturdy and easy to piece together. There are only the four plastic legs, stickers and stick that are needed to assemble. Tightening the base ensures the flight sticks responsiveness due to the connector pins being located in this area. I did find it comforting in loosening this grip a few notches so that it wasn’t as springy. This is something I found useful when maneuvering the different sizes of planes. A mic extender is also included which helps to plug the standard Xbox 360 headset mic into the AV8R’s base.
As mentioned before the stick comes bundled with a few stickers for design for a better feeling of authenticity. The only thing that doesn’t make this a 100 percent true experience is the stick’s lack of force feedback. Even so, it doesn’t necessarily hinder the immersive experience of that both the game and flight stick combo provide.
The gameplay in Damage Inc. is quite simple. There are over 30 different types of planes available, with over 68 different variations of each. Aside from the fighters and bombers, there are massive jets like the Catalina, which can take off from the open ocean. Planes like my favorite, the P-38 Lightening, vary in style and show off the innovation and pressure of the war to develop new ones. Others can land on courier crafts, and take off the same.
Many planes of the game have secondary weapon options. Planes can be upgraded based on flight points that are unlocked after each mission. Things like a plane’s maneuverability can be upgraded through these simple upgrade expenditures. Guns will also increase in quality, some fighter style types often reaping the benefits of these.
The standard machine gun can be angled in the air to take down on the move speedsters. A given plane might have such weaponry as missiles, dive-bombs or torpedo’s that can be dropped for maximum carnage.
Missions of the game are repetitious at first. Defend here, take out enemies there, and so on and so forth. It didn’t really seem like things were starting to pick up until about a quarter or halfway through the game. This is when more plane types are opened up and you’re doing more than getting called on to do more than to simply defend airspace. Just when mission types were starting to become tedious and lose flavor, experiences like dive bombing and battle ship dunking drew fresh air into the game.
The game also features a multiplayer mode. It is what you would expect from a fighter plane type game. There are five modes which are the, Dogfight, Team Dogfight, Survivor, Team Survivor and Scratch One Flattop. The last one being a real life game of battle ship sinking where you team up with a partner as you try to sink the other team’s fleet.
It was tough to find a game earlier on due to its availability. The Dogfight mode was however fun and did make for a few good matches. I can’t fully comment on the multiplayer matches as there was limited connectivity, but the times played were a great implementation into the game and its premise.
For a company to reinvent themselves from a gaming accessory developer turned publisher/developer is impressive. This might seem like an easy way to create a video game and then the perfect accessory to utilize for it might seem bit self-serving to some. In the case of Damage Inc. it would displays as a form of symbiosis.
Damage Inc Pacific Squadron WWII. is a good first attempt for Mad Catz as it looks to break into the gaming market. The game does however suffer from a dry storyline, somewhat repetitive missions and a few blemishes graphically; it does however house some decent gameplay and fun to use controls.
For WWII historians the game will definitely showcase its talent in storytelling of the Pacific battles and the unique playing style the Pacific AV8R fight stick offers to compliment it. The Pacific AV8R fight stick easily wins as a great accessory, but the game unfortunately doesn’t quite propel itself to the top.
[xrr label=”Rating: 6.5/10″ rating=6.5/10]
+ Historical Authenticity
+ Collector’s Edition Bundled with Pacific AV8R
+ Immersive gameplay
+/- Art Style
– Repetitious missions
– Voice Acting/Story line