Damage Inc: Pacific Squadron preview WWII aerial dogfighting, arcade style

In Damage Inc: Pacific Squadron players sit in the cockpit of an Allied fighter pilot stationed in the Pacific during Dubya Dubya Two – flying missions against the Japanese Navy. Formerly under the name War Wings: Hellcats and the first game to be published solely by the hardware developer, Madcatz, the dogfighting game aims to grab the attention of aviation fans with authentic World War Two locations and vehicles while providing an experience that is full of action and easy to pick up.

In our hands-on with an early build, we were introduced to the core mechanics of dogfighting. Straddling the line between arcade style, haphazard fun and flight sim, Trickstar, developer of International Cricket 2010, boasts that fans of both will be satisfied with Damage Inc’s gameplay. Players have the choice between two control schemes: Simulation mode, where players have complete control over pitch and yaw without any assistance, and Arcade mode, which makes leveling adjustments automatically.

We played using the simulator controls so we could have maximum control over our flight paths, and we were pulling off barrel rolls and loops in no time. We had a few close calls though, nearly steering our plane into the Pacific as we chased a highly maneuverable Japanese Ace. The controls feel like a standard flight game with few notable assists to make the dogfighting go smoothly: a look-to-target view, reflex mode, and targeting reticles that show how far to lead the target with a small red bead. Reflex mode slows the game, bullet-time style, allowing the pilot to line up his sights, and the look-to-target view keeps the camera on the targeted enemy, making it easier to track bogeys.

The game’s missions take place over real world locations and allow players to fly over 40 authentic WWII aircraft. In our demo we saw several mission types including a dogfight with the objective to destroy an opposing fighter squadron, an aircraft carrier bombing run, and a reconnaissance mission to steal an enemy fighter plane. The game is said to last a minimum of 12 hours with additional hidden mission objectives spread across the 20 mission storyline. Up to four players can jump in co-op via Xbox Live and the PSN and up to eight players can shoot each other out of the sky in a dogfight mode.

With the game about 60 percent complete we are curious to see how it turns out when it hits retail early next year on Xbox 360 and PS3.

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