Damage Inc. Pacific Squadron WWII -- Game Impressions
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 3rd Sep 2012
And so it was that much excitement developed and competition ensued -- though in vain for it seemed that your GU reported had no intentions of passing the game on to an Intern -- and mostly for all of the reasons noted above and others the game actually remained in the box and on the desk overnight. The following morning though, it became an issue; the Interns realized that the game had not only not been played, but it had not moved from the spot that it occupied on the desk, and this they could not bear. It turns out that Interns are not as dumb as they look, though we could be declaring intelligence where instinct could be the source... I will have to think on that.
Thus you now know the circumstances by which natural forces conspired to see to it that the box that was within the box was carefully extracted, and then opened, and its contents spread out over the surface of my desk for all to see and marvel over. I actually made that whole process sound a lot easier than it was mind you, because the doing of it, in the end, required the use of a number of tools including a box cutter, screw driver, and pliers as well as several sets of hands, because affixed to the top of the CE box under a plastic shield was a metal fighter plane model that was literally screwed to the box with human-resistant retainers.
Five minutes was spent assembling the AV8R Flight Stick, and then natural curiosity took over as rampant speculation flew about the bullpen as to whether or not the AV8R would work with other flight-based games without it requiring any special mapping or the like -- so an Intern was dispatched to the Great Library of Gaming Goodness (the shelves upon which the video games are stored) and returned with a copy of JASF, which was instantly slotted, the AV8R plugged in, and it was then discovered that it worked very well with that game and, in fact, made that game better than it already was! What a nice surprise.
A Proper and Historical Adventure
The tutorial scheme for Damage Inc. was predictable enough, with the first mission being somewhat unofficial since it takes place prior to the opening of the war, being chiefly a series of fly-by's and gunnery practice of some static balloon targets. In addition to the opportunity to become acquainted with your new character, you also get your first opportunity to land your plane (something you do a lot less frequently than you might think), and as it turns out landing is more a mixture of fulfilling a specific set of conditions than it is a skill-based event.
There are definite skill-based aspects to the game, primarily with respect to aiming and using the weapons on your plane to shoot down other planes and ground targets, which requires the player to master a specific set of tactics which at first to a novice can be a bit awkward. For that reason the first-use of the different attack skills is generally a little easier than following events in which the skill is used, that being the alternative approach used in the game in place of a dedicated training level, which is the approach that most combat flight sim games take.
The process of lining up your shots on moving targets -- whether in the air or on the ground -- using both machine gun and canon requires the player to set up deflection shots, which means aiming a little in front of the target so that your bullets or shells and the target arrive in the same location, at the same time, so that the one causes the other to blow up. For stationary ground targets the process involves learning not to fly your plane into the ground while you set up the shots -- something that happens a lot more often than you might think in games like this and certainly more frequently than gamers admit to.
To keep the game play experience fresh for gamers and help with immersion the dev team for Damage Inc. created distinct environments for each section of the game, ignoring technical issues that any student of history in general, and World War II specifically, is likely to notice. For example the hero of this adventure is a Naval Aviator -- not a pilot in the Army Air Corps or a Marine Aviator attached to a Marine Fighting Squadron -- so the fact that the first training flight your character takes is in a P-40N model with Army Air Corps markings (that makes sense, considering that the Navy did not use that particular plane) at that particular time and in that place) is a little oddity that the player needs to ignore, as otherwise it might interfere with immersion, and that would be a shame.
In later levels the player character flies for and under the structure of a traditional Marine Fighting Squadron, as a Carrier-based Naval Aviator, and again as a land-based fighter, bomber, and transport pilot in a variety of locations. One of the glaringly obvious issues with the dynamic approach that was used to instill variety in the game is the fact that almost every one of the different mission types is ordinarily assigned to pilots whose job it is (and whose trained skill base focuses upon) that type of flying.
The point being that, for instance, the skills that are associated with flying the SBD-2 Dauntless Dive-Bomber as part of a Navy fleet squadron are specialized skills that the average fighter pilot would not possess in great abundance. The point behind officially noticing those issues here is not to complain about them, rather it is to acknowledge that we are aware that they present something of an anachronism within the rarefied community of military aviators, and leave it at that.
One final note respective of your Historical Adventure -- while the seemingly jack-of-all-trades omnipotence with which your character is endowed really does play a crucial role in each of the missions that you fly in the game, those capabilities combined with your characters innate abilities are not quite enough to carry the day in several of the missions, which will require in addition to those shining skills a basic understanding of military strategy, and terms like reconnaissance, suppressing fire, flanking fire, and strategic retreat, among others.