The collector's edition of Mad Catz's new flight game, Damage Inc Pacific Squadron (see separate review) comes bundled with the Saitek Pacific AV8R (see what they did there?) FlightStick - and it's an admirable addition to the company’s vast arsenal of plastic plug-ins. This particular version of the AV8R has been coated with a 1940s-esque, US Navy colour scheme, as well as coming with a set of stickers. If you’re so inclined.
|The AV8R FlightStick adds some realism - and enjoyment - to Damage Inc|
The joystick itself seems quite stiff on first use, but once the spring-loaded base pops up, becomes extremely loose. I was concerned that such looseness would be a problem, but once you’ve had a little practice, the delicate moves needed to control your in-game aircraft become second nature.
Alongside the stick itself, the AV8R’s selection of chunky buttons have a nice sturdy feel, and the controller’s face buttons allow easy control in-game and in-menu. I’m a big fan of the free-look mini-stick in the middle of the joystick’s ‘face’.
The base also includes a throttle, which adds to in-game realism, but the bar itself is fused in the middle, which is a shame as I would of liked to control my bomber’s twin engines independently. The primary trigger is also a little too ‘weak’ - as in it doesn’t pull back very far upon squeezing, which robs the moment of unleashing hell of a little drama – but this is, naturally, a very minor point.
The stick itself can be twisted to use the in-game aircraft’s tail rudder, which is a nice touch – it’s also detatchable from the base unit, for ease of storage.
Besides Damage Inc, the AV8R also supports Tom Clancy’s Hawx 1 and 2, along with Birds of Prey, Birds of Steel and the Blazing Angels titles. It also supports the critically unknown Apache Air Assault – and I’d recommend trying this one for sure.
On the whole, the AV8R is a very nice piece of kit, as you’d expect from a Mad Catz product. The design is sleek and ergonomically sound, and easy to plug and play. If you’re a fan of arcade flight simulators, it’s definitely worth a look – but whether there’s much call for such a peripheral on the console market remains to be seen.
Reviewed on PS3