Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WWII: Take a nosedive

August 31, 2012

It surprises me when a new World War II-era game is released, but it’s a period in time that still interests a lot of developers and gamers alike. Damage Inc.: Pacific Squadron WWII is yet another flight game set in that particular era in history, and is attempting to win over fans of the genre thanks to its simulation controls and flight stick support. Unfortunately, it fails to do the most important thing: provide a fun and polished gameplay experience.

The game’s campaign will take you through 23 missions that span the length of the United States’ involvement in World War II and include many of the war’s famous battles. This seems like it would be a good chance to expand upon what you would typically expect from a game from this nature, but it’s a huge missed opportunity. The main problem is the major lack of variety in the missions. Most of the objectives range from “destroy these targets” to “destroy these targets before they do this thing” and almost never provide you with anything beyond that. Not only are you left with missions that do nothing you haven’t already done before, they don’t even attempt to hide the serious lack of variety. And with some missions that drag on for almost thirty minutes, you’ll welcome any excuse to stop playing.

It doesn’t help that the game rarely offers a challenge. Even with a huge lack of variety, making the game have any semblance of difficulty might help keep players engaged, but even on the highest difficulty setting the enemies will rarely pose a threat. The enemy A.I. is not only bad, but they will also sometimes go out of their way to crash into the ground or the water. There are several instances where I found myself approaching a group of enemies before they attacked a target I was meant to protect only for some of the planes to just nosedive right into the ground for no real reason.

You are given several planes to choose from (many you will unlock as the campaign progresses) and the ability to upgrade each accordingly, and the planes are all highly detailed (as you might expect from a game of this nature). However, you can tell most of the work went into designing the planes, as the rest of the Damage Inc.’s environments look like an early-generation game at best, complete with muddy-looking textures and spotty frame rate. Not only that, but the sound design is often full of problems; there are several technical issues that lead to sound cutting out, dialogue repeating and the engine noises of the planes amplifying so high that you’ll need to mute your sound.

All of these problems add up to an unpleasant experience, and that’s not even including the game’s many glitches. The worst offender I ran into caused me to restart missions over several times. For example, if you are accelerating the plane when a cutscene triggers, the game will freeze and you will have no way to continue. This happened several times simply because I could not predict when cutscenes or cinematic events would trigger. Attempting to reload from my last checkpoint didn’t fix the problem either, so there were several instances of me having to restart a mission from the beginning.

If there is anything that Damage Inc. gets right, it’s the handling. The controls feel just as precise as they need to be. They aren’t perfect, but thanks to the game’s flight stick support and its simulation control options, those familiar with similar games will feel right at home here. It’s just a shame that development team spent so much time nailing down the control scheme that they forgot to create a compelling gameplay experience.

Damage Inc. is an unpolished mess of a game. It’s hard to deny that there is an audience for this style of game still, even if it’s dwindling, but this is the kind of product that would only make them like the genre less than continue to support it. Everything that works here has been seen in other, better flight combat games. What we’re left with is a game with a serious lack of variety and glitches that consistently prevent you from making progress. Avoid this game at all costs.

Pros: Functional controls, highly-detailed aircraft
Cons: Ugly graphics, tedious missions, plenty of technical issues and glitches

Score: 1/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.