Review: Top Gun
What I liked:
- Danger Zone/Anthem covers were good
- No Volley Ball
What I Disliked:
- Aged gameplay
- Awful cutscenes
- Just doesn’t do Top Gun justice
- A little pricey
Flight games usually take one of two approaches. You’ll find ones similar to AfterBurner/Starfox, or ones like Ace Combat/Rogue Squadron. Top Gun falls in the later. I don’t have a preference for either category, as long as the game is done well. Top Gun…wasn’t.
When this game was announced, I threw on my aviators and proudly mass-messaged my wingmen ecstatically. When I finally got the game however…I quietly forgot to message them again. Top Gun is the epitome of what gives licensed games a bad rap.
It was widely publicized that this game was written by the original movie’s writer, Jack Epps Jr. I was fortunate enough to participate in a conference call with him prior to the game’s release. After the call, I found myself very curious and excited as to how his newly written story would turn out. What “story” there is to this game consists of brief intro paragraphs read to you prior to each level (there’s only 11), and small cutscenes in between objectives and missions. Obviously, the player controls maverick…a non- speaking, non-existent maverick. All dialogue is performed by your RIO or wingman. This gets awkward when Maverick receives a direct compliment or insult and your RIO is the one doing the talking for you. At one point Merlin is literally like “Maverick says thanks.” The rest of the dialogue consists of as many of the famous one-liners from the original movie as possible, strung together to try and make a cohesive conversation. Keep in mind that most of these one-liners took place on the ground, so when Iceman flies up next to you and says “you’re dangerous” it turns into a mockery of the original scene, as it looks like its two jets talking to each other. What “new” story there is consists of a few extra levels in the Indian Ocean as well as a reason for the game to have a final boss.
Enough about the story, let’s talk controls/gameplay. While certainly usable, your fighters feel more like flying bricks than the sleek aerodynamic acrobatic sumbitches you’re supposed to be handling. I tried each one, and while they are rated differently in terms of weapons and maneuverability, I couldn’t tell a difference. You’re also given the option to choose from three types of missiles. Long range lets you equip 2, medium 4 and light 6. I found it behooved me to stick with medium. I own two or three of the Ace Combat games on PS2, and I can’t for the life of me remember those jets being as clunky as Top Gun’s felt. To combat the clunkyness, Top Gun offers up a special kind of move, “CFI” or Controlled Flight Instability. . It’s strange the way this is used. The camera zooms out and maintains focus on one of your many targets. While this happens, you can control your jet on its axis so as to rotate around for a shot (Missiles or Guns, that’s it). Watch the trailer for an example of it. Though useful, it leaves you hanging out to dry when you get targeted by other enemy missiles. To combat these missiles, you can deploy flares or try and pull high g turns to evade them. Stick with the flares if you can, as I felt like the high g turns seemed like a crapshoot.
The game looks bland. I jumped back on After Burner: Climax so to compare the two, and hands down, Top Gun comes off looking as generic as can be. Top Gun’s music is also quite average, aside from the covers of both Danger Zone and the Anthem. Those at least do the original songs justice.
Most of the missions are your stereotypical kind of stuff. Attack this AA gun, run this waypoint, and dogfight. Nothing struck me as a surprise except for Goose dying. Oops, Spoilers. After finishing the campaign, I wanted to wash that bad taste outta my mouth, so I hopped online to see if I could take out some of my aggression on some other PSN players. Multiplayer offers up a couple different game-types, but really…they just came down to dogfighting. I did get in some heated battles with some players, but found it difficult to find a full game. There is also an exp system so you can show off your rank to noobies. If you could get 16 players going at it at once, this could make for a good time.
I haven’t been this disappointed by a game in ages. The online multiplayer is the games saving grace. I had the need, the need for speed, but this one is all tuckered out.
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