Head over to the Xbox Live Marketplace now, and, if you can still find the demo section (seeing as things seem to move around on an almost weekly basis recently), you'll find a game called Damage Inc: Pacific Squadron WW2 staring back at you - a somewhat oddly named, yet rather interesting flight sim just begging to be downloaded.
Set in the pacific theatre of World War 2, Damage Inc is a flight sim with something of an arcade bent, in the hopes that, like previous console flight sims, it'll go some way to help make what's always been viewed as a very, very hardcore genre something more accessible. With over 30 planes on offer in the full game, and more than 20 missions to take part in, you'll be able to take to the skies in a variety of planes, both nimble fighters and heavy bombers, as you step into the well worn shoes of a pilot, doing everything that pilots do - dogfighting with enemies over shimmering seas, performing landings on aircraft carriers as they bob about on the waves, and taking part in daring torpedo raids on enemy aircraft carriers. Up to four players can play together throughout the game's main campaign mode (although sadly, there doesn't appear to be any split-screen multiplayer), with each mission loosely grounded in the history of the time, to take in major events such as Pearl Harbour, the battle of Wake Island, and more. So far, so good - and weighing in at a little over 700mb, the demo offers a nice chance to get your appetite well and truly whet, ready for the main event.
But what's interested us the most about the game so far is the amazing looking collector's edition, which comes bundled with an actual joystick to help make your flying all the more realistic. Weighing in at a reasonable £66.56 from Amazon, or £89.99 from GAME, the collector's edition comes with a copy of the game, and the very cool looking stick, which boasts a fancy throttle, a point-of-view hat switch, for looking around your plane, and, best of all, a selection of stickers with which to decorate it - including an angry looking face for authenticity. Compatible with pretty much every other flight sim on the Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 (depending on whichever format takes your fancy), if you're a fan of flight sims on consoles, the bundle version is definitely worth a second look.
Somewhat awkwardly, though, there's a pre-order bonus scheme going on here, with different retailers having different bonuses, meaning anyone who wants to get the complete package will likely have to shell out twice. Pre-order either the standard, or the collector's bundle from Amazon, and you'll get a download code that'll grant you access to the P-80 Shooting Star jet, whilst pre-orders from GAME come with a code that lets you download the P-61 Black Widow. Whilst we can see the appeal of these schemes, we really wish they weren't retailer specific - people want to know they're getting the full game when they buym not missing out because they chose to buy from one retailer over another.
Due for launch on the 28th of August, what was once a dying genre seems to have been somewhat revitalised lately, with Birds of Steel, Ace Combat, Air Conflicts: Secret Wars and now Damage Inc all competing for our money in a genre that had previously lain somewhat dormant - and we're not complaining. Flight sims used to be our favourite genre, until they all pretty much died out, and it's great to see them start making a comeback. With any luck, Damage Inc: Pacific Squadron WW2 may be another sold flight sim for us to sink our teeth into.