If I hit the brakes, maybe it will fly right by...
The lure of a dogfighting game is immediate and powerful. Who doesn’t want to blast through the skies in a blazing warbird armed to the teeth with missiles, guns and bombs, raining fiery hell upon evil foreign planes who dared to enter our beloved random airspace uninvited? Who doesn’t want to outmaneuver enemy Migs like a pre-loco Tom Cruise, sweaty wife beater sticking to the leather as you pull out all kinds of fancy dives and inverted fingers
to the delight of gruff American steelworkers and gay men
everywhere? Who doesn’t want to fly planes, kick ass, rock hard, fly more planes and rock more hard?
The unfortunate owners of Over G Fighters
, for starters. Though Ubi had the best intentions picking up this Taito game and launching it on the 360, they probably should have left it in the danger zone of anonymity. An uneven hodgepodge of poor handling, bland graphics, dull design and boring gameplay takes the top out of this gun faster than an exploding Goose
Unlike the riveting tale of Maverick and Iceman, however, Over G’s main story mode is pretty much devoid of even bad drama. You’re a pilot for the Energy Air Force and your job is to shoot down enemy planes from some vague terrorist organizations trying to dismantle the peace of the world because, presumably, they’re bored. It’s all very unclear, but that doesn’t matter much as you plow headfirst into the game’s 75 core missions.
The good part is that the mission structure is branching; you won’t play through all 75 in one go. While all paths eventually lead to the same main tactical missions, the branching system is appreciated.
Unfortunately, it hardly matters which missions you select because they all make you do the same thing: shoot down planes with missiles. This means locating them on your radar, lining them up in your reticule, switching to missile mode and waiting for the word “SHOOT!” to appear onscreen. So you shoot, you blow up the enemy, and move on to the next one. How dangerous.
In fact, missiles are so outrageously effective they should be renamed “hittles.” It’s pretty much fire and forget, rendering the standard front-mounted guns practically useless. Many of the missions are also incredibly brief, making you kill, say, two bogeys, which might take all of one minute. The more engaging missions, the tactical ones, are often broken into two sections, but it’s still just the same thing.
Aiding you in your aerial target practice is a choice of Wingmen. None of them do much of anything other than shout at you and get into trouble. You can control their basic functions with a little side menu, but it doesn’t seem to have any tangible effect on the gameplay.
Nor do the bizarre stats. As you complete missions, you and your Wingmen randomly gain points in 5 parameters, including the obvious ("Visual Range") and the ridiculous ("Mental"). Apparently increasing these skills helps, but I sure didn't notice it at all.
Though Over G Fighters lets you pilot fairly accurate depictions of about 30 planes, the differences between them are minor. You can customize each one with a nice selection of missiles and bombs, which affects weight, but none of that seems to matter since they all handle sluggishly. A basic maneuver like slowing down and turning around to chase a plane that just whizzed by takes ages. Cool evasive moves like barrel rolls and quick inverts are not part of the control scheme and are functionally impossible.
Nailing that point home is the overwhelming lack of speed. These are jets planes, really, really fast ones, yet it takes forever to get anywhere. Your airspeed indicator tells you you’re doing about 400 mph, but the ground passes by at a snail’s pace, even if you’re cruising at about 100 feet. You don’t feel like you’re flying a jet so much as staring out the side of a hot air balloon. It’s terrible.
Once you tire of the pointless Story mode, you can try Challenge mode, which just tosses you into a non-descript environment and makes you hunt down sorties. That’s fine, but since your payload does not regenerate and you can only carry about 6 missiles at a time, you constantly have to fly back to base, land and resupply. After a few of these, you’ll want to turn in your wings.
The only other way to play is via Xbox Live. The two standard Multiplayer modes are marginally more entertaining than the single-player because other humans can at least dodge missiles by releasing chaff, but the otherwise bad control keeps it from becoming habit-forming.
The graphics don’t make it more addictive, that’s for sure. While both the interiors and exteriors of the planes themselves look fine, the ground textures are laughably cheap and the explosions are timid. Planes disappear after you blow them up rather than spiral to the ground as smoldering metal carcasses. The framerate stays solid only because so little happens onscreen. There’s just nothing next-gen about it.
Other than plenty of cockpit bleeps and bloops, the sound is also lackluster. Bad, generic metal loops dominate the soundtrack, making you actually wish Kenny Loggins was back on the scene. Besides, he could probably do a better job than the uninspired voice-actors, though the lame scripts surely made their jobs harder.
But they made mine easier. With a slew of problems and few redeeming qualities, Over G Fighters is simply not worth its non-discounted price tag. Make like Maverick and leave this one in your jet stream.