Top Gun Worth the Price of Admission

Posted: May 5, 2009 in Action, Shooter

If you like flying games with some top notch graphics and smooth frame rates, Top Gun should fit the bill. Similar to Days of Thunder, Top Gun has a soundtrack reminiscent of the movie as well as a storyline that is presented preceding each mission. In general, this is a well-presented and creatively packaged game.

Visually, Top Gun looks great and has detailed environments for the mission flythroughs. These include flying out to sea, speeding across deserts, and swerving through canyons. Also, overhead views and animations of your fighter as its entering a mission (e.g. landing on a battleship, driving along a landing strip) are used and add to the feel of the game.

Using a tilt-based maneuvering system, Top Gun has 10 missions with only the first mission, the training mission, unlocked. Each is locked or classified until the preceding mission is completed. The missions are as follows:
Mission 1: New Recruits
Mission 2: Foreign Relations
Mission 3: Rules of Engagement
Mission 4: The Iceman Cometh
Mission 5: Bombs Away
Mission 6: Flash in the Night
Mission 7: Advanced Training
Mission 8: The Golden Goose
Mission 9: Of Rebels and Mavericks
Mission 10: The Art of War

Prior to starting gameplay, you can choose a handle or name (don’t worry you can change this later if need be), and this name is used throughout the story presented in between each mission. It’s through the story that you receive your mission objectives, which by the way can be vague.

Top Gun has a medal and achievement system that tracks various things such as skills acquired, numerous kills, ability to escape danger, and mission accomplished based on resources. For example, when you successfully complete training, you receive the Air Force Training Ribbon. What I don’t like with the medal and achievement system is the requirements for each are classified so you have no idea what is required beforehand for a medal.

In terms of gameplay, the calibration is automatically set for you, but you can recalibrate by pausing during gameplay. Ideally, a sensitivity control would have been a nice addition. Maneuvering your aircraft using tilt works fine, although it can be sensitive. You have two primary weapons: vulcan cannon (left side) and sidewinder missiles (right side). With the sidewinders, up to four can be launched at a single time, but keep in mind, there is slight delay between missile launches. With any aircraft shooting game, there is a straightforward targeting mechanism with a reticle, and Top Gun is no different. For me, the controls work well, and I don’t have any issues maneuvering and firing. In fact, they work smoothly with no lags. What is missing is a throttle or speed brake for boosting speed. To me, it’s an oversight especially if you’re chasing down enemy fighters.

At the bottom of your screen is a sort of health bar. Your fighter can take up to 8 hits, and for every hit, the health bar shrinks accordingly. What is interesting is the Danger Zone. When you’re in danger of being hit by weapons fire, a Danger Zone box will flash in the relevant area. Initially, it’s pretty easy to move out of the way, but by Mission 3, most of your screen will be filled by Danger Zone boxes, and so far the best maneuver is to move side to side to avoid the incoming missiles. When your craft is hit, you eject and start the mission again.

Honestly, I haven’t found destroying targets particularly challenging especially when I’m relying on sidewinders. The challenge comes from the Danger Zones and dodging them. To sum up, Top Gun is a well-packaged aerial 3D shooter. I’m somewhat disappointed that it only has 10 missions, but having said that, I think you will have some fun with this.

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