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Review – Flight Control HD

Posted by on September 25th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Tags: , ,

Developer: Firemint
Publisher: Firemint
Release Date: September 15th (EU/Asia) | September 16th (AU) | October 21 (JP)
Availability: | | |
Price: £3.99/€4.99 | $47.00 | $8.45 | ?
Players: 1-4
Rating: PEGI 3

What I liked:

  • Easy to pick up, hard to put down
  • Drop-in multiplayer
  • Varied levels with varying difficulty levels
  • Custom music support
  • Fast forward button

What I disliked:

  • No US release, 🙁

Flight Control HD is a simple game. The core gameplay consists of mousing over a plane, then holding a button while drawing a flight path to the plane’s corresponding landing zone. A large part of the challenge comes in the fact that different planes move at different speeds. Once two planes collide, your run as flight controller (HD) is over. You receive a tasty snack or a refreshing beverage from a flight attendant and are asked if you would like to go back to the menu or replay the stage you just lost. That replay button is going to get a lot of action, trust me.

As you can see by the gameplay trailer above, the airfield gets crazy crowded, requiring you to be quick and creative in drawing your flight paths. You might also notice the different colored cursors on-screen. That’s because Flight Control HD supports 4-player co-op with any combination of Move and Dualshock 3 controllers. To boot, the multiplayer is of the drop-in sorts, meaning a buddy can pick up a controller anytime during your session and help direct traffic. He can also help direct planes into each other, but, in some weird way, that actually adds to the fun of playing the game. It’s happened more than a few times that a roommate walked in, asked what I was playing, and joined in. 2 hours later, we’d both be on the couch trying to figure out the best way to divvy up the planes. Should we each be assigned a color or a side of the screen? Should one of us focus on the outside while the other makes sure nothing crashes on the inside? Whatever approach we decided upon, the aim was always the same: Land more planes. That’s the name of the game, of course; you’re playing to get a high score. How does it play, you say? (All right, I promise to keep the rhymes to a minimum from here on out).

Flight Control HD plays like a dream. The game may be lacking on the impressive graphics front, but that’s actually to its benefit. The graphics are sharp, and the simplicity of the levels’ backgrounds makes for a more focused approach to the main game. Unlike some high score-based games, Flight Control doesn’t take much time to get you to where you want to be. Pressing the ‘O’ button fast forwards the game, making even the first hundred planes a fast-paced landing-fest. Of the 9 different levels, a few feature dynamic effects. One such level runs a day-to-night cycle while another challenges you by closing off certain landing zones on the fly. The latter is my personal favorite (my current high score on it is 486). Other levels switch up the gameplay by adding different colored planes and helicopters or zooming the camera way out, creating a large airfield to mess around in.

The game includes custom music support, which is a very good thing, since the only audio that comes with it are the bloops and bleeps of the planes and an intro song that plays its course then cuts out for good. I like the intro theme a lot and think it should loop, but the devs over at Firemint told me that “since some people play for hours and hours, we’re pretty sure they would get sick of it ;).” The next logical step, in my mind, was to create a playlist specially designed for Flight Control HD play. You’ll find it at the end of the review.

The game also supports use of the Move controller. Basically, the Move becomes a pointer that you use to guide the planes around. Either the trigger or Move button can be used to select planes. The best part about the Move compatibility is the fact that you can calibrate on the fly by pointing at the center of the screen and pressing the square button. Your cursor will be transported to the center, acclimating according to you. This is key for when you want to change positions on the couch during those long games. I just barely prefer the Dualshock controller over the Move. While the Move certainly works well, I did on occasion find myself redrawing flight paths because of a hiccup in a line or a slight miss of the landing zone. Perhaps such hiccups showed up because of my jittery hand. That’s fine; I can understand that. But regardless of the Move’s potential hyper-precision, when going for a high score I trust the analog stick more than the pointer. It is fun to play using the Move, though.

Flight Control HD is the type of game that’s fun with friends or by your lonesome. When nobody’s around, I like to boost some of my lower scores. The fast forward feature is used often in this case. When someone shows up, I like to switch on the Moves and try my best to keep to my side of the screen. The fact that my friend and I were formulating strategic approaches to playing Flight Control made me realize how good of a co-op game it really is. My one and only complaint is that the game isn’t releasing in the US. For some undisclosed reasons, Firemint can’t seem to get it out on the American market. It saddens me that the game isn’t available to everyone. It delights me, though, that with relative ease one can create a PSN account that has access to any region’s store. In conclusion, Flight Control HD may not look like much at a glance, but for the asking price it’s certainly worth buying the ticket and taking the ride.

My Flight Control HD Playlist (can you guess the theme?):
Sugar Ray – Fly
Foo Fighters – Learn to Fly
Red Hot Chili Peppers – Aeroplane
Steve Miller Band – Fly Like an Eagle
Lloyd Banks – I’m so Fly
Kanye West ft. Lupe Fiasco – Touch the Sky
Gangstarr – Above the Clouds
Elton John – Rocket Man
Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner
R. Kelly – I Believe I can Fly
Kenny Loggins – Highway to the Danger Zone
ELO – Don’t Bring me Down
Big Tymers – Still Fly
Baby Bash ft. Frankie J. – Suga Suga (How You Get so Fly?)