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Top Gun Review

KevinS By:
GENRE Action 
PLAYERS 1- 16 
PUBLISHER Paramount Digital Entertainment 
T Contains Language, Violence

What do these ratings mean?

I don't care how awesome the movie is, I'm sick of that “Danger Zone” song.

Top Gun. The movie that plays on late-night TV across multiple channels, sometimes all playing at the same time. I've actually seen the film on three different networks playing all at once, all in various cross-sections of plot. It's a staple of the American cinematic diet, and as a result, a slew of games have been released over the years with the namesake. The NES saw a couple, the PSOne saw an incarnation, the Gamecube got one, and now, the PS3 gets its very own taste of Maverick and the boys with egos the size of their... planes. Maybe they just like decorating their helmets with sparkles and glitter, I dunno... but they keep coming back with more flair and polygons.

click to enlargeIn this latest incarnation, the movie (or rather, the movie minus all of the interesting people-y bits) is retold while you take the yoke of the famous F-14 fighter jet under the guise of Maverick, the take-nothin'-from-nobody pilot with a heart o' gold. As you race through the sky, your wingman will talk in your ear a-la Slippy, Falco, and Peppy from Star Fox 64, while the plot is driven along by faceless helmets with names like Hollywood, Iceman, and Merlin.

Thing is, there is only one notable moment in the whole storyline that anyone who knows the movie cares to hear about – what happened to Goose, which lasts only a moment and is ignored afterward almost entirely – and the rest is only a few names, vague references to lines and some borrowed banter. The bits they didn't steal from the movie feel very forced and contrived; never once did it feel like I was hearing a conversation or a smack-talk session, just the actors in the sound booths trying to get their lines out and done with before a smoke break.

Nearly every movement you make with the plane is mapped to the left analog stick by default, aside for some fine left and right movement to the L1 and R1 buttons. A boost on the R2 and brake on the L2, and you're flying high and twisting through the sky (you can even do a barrel roll!). Just as a warning to the bold: If you've ever found yourself nauseous at constant spinning/moving in a game, this might very well make you hurl. Which is about what I wanted to do on the very first mission of the “actual” game (not just the prologue or Top Gun itself). Actually, It's amusing to be playing a game from a developer named “Double Axis” and not be using the Sixaxis control scheme at all. It's not even an option. Still, the default controls very comfortable for all of the spins and turns that happen on such a regular basis.

click to enlargeThere are 3 modes in total: two in the single-player being the campaign itself and a “Horde Mode”, which is just what you think - a barrage of fighters to bring to jet-fueled justice - and the third being the online multiplayer matches. However, they all play exactly the same... just spin around a lot, get a lock, shoot 'em down. The only thing that breaks up the same action sequences that repat over and over again are the moments when you have to fly under enemy radar... and it's literally just hitting points on the map at a lower altitude. Shoot down enemy planes, fly low, lather, repeat.

The best part of the package is what's usually the best part of flight sims: The game is very, very pretty. For a downloadable title, anyway. The environments each feel very broad in scope, never constraining or with too many obstacles to avoid. Corny as it sounds, it makes you feel as open as a bird in the sky. The detail on the waves especially are pristinely clear as you brush past them, and I swear I saw decals on enemy planes as they flew by.

Actually playing the game, however, has me remembering the good ol' days of Star Fox. Especially in multiplayer, the fights are filled with players spinning around in circles until one player either gets bored and breaks off or is shot down by an incoming fighter. It's exactly like the missions of the game, except your enemies are typically fewer in number (not because the PS3 can't handle it, but because no one seems to be playing online) and enemies respawn after you nail 'em with a hailstorm of bullets. It's not exactly the same scenario almost every time, but you will use the exact same tactics every time.

Top Gun is amusing for a little while, and hearing “Danger Zone” again (even if it is a cover... c'mon, why not the original?) is all well and good, but when it's so monotonous and has so little character in the “plot”, it won't stay in play for too long. Not that it would, anyway... the whole campaign is only a few hours long, and the multiplayer won't hold your attention for much longer. It's appeal is as short as Tom Cruise! Awww....
C Revolution report card
  • Arenas as big as the sky
  • Environments are sparse but pretty
  • Controls are perfectly acceptable
  • Every level employs exactly the same tactics
  • Very short campaign mode
  • Multiplayer is just like everything else
  • "Danger Zone" and Top Gun theme on loop
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