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Top Gun

 

Top Gun

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: PS3
Category: Flight Sims
 
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Developer: Doublesix
Publisher: Paramount Digital Entertainment

Features

Rated T for Teen
Up to 16 players across five multiplayer modes
Includes namesakes of characters from movie
Arcade-style aerial combat

Ah Top Gun. I remember being envious of just how cool Iceman’s hair was, the wicked soundtrack and just how cool they made flying fighter planes look. Twenty-four years after the movie’s release there has been a multitude of Top Gun games made, some good, others not so much. Released exclusively on the Playstation Network as a downloadable title for $14.99, I’ve put Top Gun through its paces.

Graphics

The graphics aren’t bad but given the quality of what we’re seeing from other downloadable titles lately I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t left wanting a little more. While the various characters from the movie are in the game it’s really only their names. For those hoping to see Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in all their moussed up, shirtless volleyball scene glory, you’re going to be disappointed. The pop-up windows during cut scenes feature only very generic characters.

The planes all look like their real world versions and feature several skins to customize their looks. I should note that you also don’t have to stick to just the F-14 like they did in the movie. There are several planes available including the F-16, F-18 and some MiG’s too. Each have their own attributes like speed and agility that makes switching up the planes fun to find out what works best for you. You can choose how to arm your planes as well with different missiles that sacrifice range for manoeuvrability. At least it makes you think a little bit before missions.

Playing the game can be done from a close or far third person view or a first person viewpoint. Sadly the first person viewpoint does not include any sort of cockpit. While I found the controls in first person view the most precise, I preferred the more distant third person view myself because I felt it offered the widest viewing angle.

While the textures for the sky are nice, the terrain textures suffer from being a little too bland and there’s not a lot of three dimension stuff in terms of structures on the ground. There are some neat effects such as the vapour trails from your missiles but the explosions lack a sense of impact.

Sound

When I think Top Gun I want epic guitar themes, ripping Kenny Loggins’ music tracks and lots of dialogue. With this game you get a little bit of that in some form or another but it’s not enough in some cases and simply horrible in others. Things start out promisingly enough on the title screen with the opening theme from the movie. Other than some music attempting to sound like Broken Wings from the first Top Gun mission against Jester that’s about all there really is save for the very last mission.

The voice acting is downright laughable. I can’t fall back on the excuse of this being a downloadable title either. $15 isn’t approaching the high side of being considered cheap and while naturally the real actors don’t lend their voices to the game you would think anyone could do a better job than who they’ve used. While a lot of dialogue from the movie is there it just feels forced and out of place. The horrible voice acting just takes it to a whole new level of badness. Thankfully the in-game sounds are decent enough.

Gameplay

Top Gun is best described as an aerial combat game with a distinct arcade slant to it. For aerial combat game fans I would slot it in between Afterburner and Ace Combat. The game loosely follows the plot of the movie. You play an introductory prologue before going to the Top Gun school and then finish things off over the Indian Ocean. The missions are a combination of dogfighting and ground attacks. They’re varied enough to keep things interesting from one mission to the next and there’s eleven in total. I found this a little short.

Top Gun uses the left thumbstick for pitch and roll (pretty much all your movement). Mapping all movement to the one thumbstick allows for the right thumbstick to be used to look around. I found this especially useful when playing the first person viewpoint (more on that later) which seems to have a narrower field of view than the two third-person views. The controls are little too touchy for my liking. For me this seems to be less a problem with the game though and more of an issue I have with the PS3 controller’s thumbsticks. What really helps are left and right yaw adjustments that are mapped to the shoulder buttons. Getting comfortable with these makes a big difference in improving accuracy especially against stationary ground targets using your guns. It’ll take a bit of practise but it’s worth it.

Speaking of using the guns, I’ve always found it frustrating in fighter games in that it’s extremely difficult to guess just how far to lead other planes in order to actually hit them. Top Gun’s HUD displays a gun targeting reticle that takes this in to account and changes colour when you’re in range. I found this very user friendly and it made the guns actually usable for me against other planes. So kudos there.

Also unique to Top Gun is what they call Controlled Flight Instability (CFI). This is a limited-time power that pulls the view away from behind the plane and centres your plane between your view and the currently targeted enemy. What this allows for is a simpler and sometimes quicker means of gaining the right position to take a shot at your target. It also takes some getting used to and might be a little familiar if you’ve played HAWX. The fact that it’s only available for a short time (think of it like a turbo button in a racing game that regenerates) adds an interesting dynamic to dogfights.


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