Damage Inc. Where to start? Well, the packaging and flight stick are really striking, they both look very nice. However, as the saying goes ‘Don’t judge a game by its cool looking box and peripheral because you’ll just be sad over the mediocre game’ or something like that.
I had high hopes for this game, I really did. Madcatz are a brilliant and well known company that have brought the gaming world a lot of great products, from headsets to arcade sticks commissioned by Capcom no less. The game falls short though, just the game mind you. The flight stick included in the collectors edition is excellent, so let’s start with the positives.
The Pacific AV8R Flight Stick is apparently ‘historically inspired’ when it comes to the grip on the handle. The grip is very nice, feels really comfortable even after a few hours of play. It’s quite a large piece of equipment, about 30cm from the bottom of the base to the top of the stick. The stick is removable so you can store everything without it taking up too much space. At the back of the base there is a throttle handle to ‘enhance realism’ which is a nice touch. There is also a headset port on the front of the base for when you’d like some Xbox live matches. All of this topped off with a 3 meter cable. At face value it certainly looks the part, so let’s discuss it in further detail.
Okay, so the flight stick is brilliant. It comes in the box unassembled so you have to put together the base, the stick and four curved leg rests. The leg rests are very nice, allowing you to easily rest the flight stick on your thigh. Great if you game sitting on your sofa or bed. If you don’t, the leg rests don’t have to be attached so you can sit the flight stick nicely on your desk. Design wise it looks great, deep blue, black and white are the main colours excluding the YBX buttons (A is the trigger on the back of the box). The left and right buttons are on the front of the base for easy reach. The flight stick certainly looks the part, but how does it feel? Well, it’s quite odd actually. It looks like it’s going to be a heavy piece of kit but it’s not. It’s very light. By no means is it fragile, it certainly won’t break easily however a bit of extra weight would have been nice, just to help steady/balance it during play. Aside from that minor complaint the flight stick is excellent, a great an interesting peripheral for the Xbox.
As for the game…well, firstly it’s a sort of arcade/flight simulator hybrid taking place during World War II, starting at Pearl Harbour. The game boasts ‘over 30 accurately represented aircraft’. Now, the planes themselves, specifically the planes you control look really nice. The planes you are taking down, the buildings and pretty much everything else in the game looks mediocre at best. Everything looks quite gritty and unclean, almost unfinished. The visuals in the menu are quite nice though. The music is decent, though you won’t get to hear much over the constant shooting, and I mean constant. The guns on the plane do overheat after a while but it never really poses a problem or makes things challenging. To make things even easier for you, you have the option to fly and fight in slow motion for as long as you like – there is no limit to how long the slo-mo can be used for. If there was a limit the game would feel a little more challenging, encouraging players to concentrate on their precision. Which brings us nicely onto the big question – how well does the flight stick work with the game? Not very. It’s not very precise and is just downright frustrating. It’s a shame, really. The flight stick feels like it will handle great but it just doesn’t work well with the game. You will pull the stick slightly to the right to try and get that perfect shot but nope! Your plane doesn’t move at all, not even slightly. So you push it further to the right and your plane goes shooting off, way further than you needed it to go. It’s just aggravating. I have tried playing Damage Inc. with a control pad and it actually handles better when using a regular controller, completely defeating the purpose of releasing hardware to go with the game. You open up the collector’s edition and get excited over the shiny and important looking flight stick, only to plug it in and find out that it just makes an overall bad experience worse. It’s just disappointing more than anything really.
The game does pull itself back up a bit though with multiplayer. Up to 8 players can take part in online multiplayer and there is the 2-4 player co-op option as well. Though this doesn’t make up for the rubbish controls, the option of fighting other human beings instead of the AI does add an extra layer of challenge. There is an interesting mode called ‘Scratch One Flattop’ in which two teams fight each other out whilst at the same time trying to blow up an aircraft carrier which is quite different, in a good way.
Overall Damage Inc. Specific Squadron WWII is just disappointing. There is a lot of potential here for an interesting simulator/arcade mix, but the bad controls and overall mediocre game just leave you with a bad taste in your mouth and a hole in your wallet. At £69.99, well, even though the flight stick looks like it deserves that price, what’s the point if it doesn’t add anything to the game? I hope in the future a new and more interesting game is released specifically for the Damage Inc. flight stick, as it really deserves a better game than this.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.