Everyone, or at least most, have seen or heard of Top Gun, a 1986 film featuring the likes of a young Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer who take to the skies as an elite group of fighter pilots. It's not the first time that the movie has been licensed into games. In fact, there have been Top Gun games throughout the 80s and 90s for the PC, Commodore 64 and Nintendo Entertainment System. This time, Top Gun The Video Game takes to the virtual skies on the PlayStation Network and the PC. Developed by Double Six and published by Paramount Digital Entertainment, the game puts players in the role of Maverick as he and his class of pilots battle a rogue Russian pilot codenamed "Ivan."
There's a story present within the game and although it is written by the film's screenwriter, Jack Epps, it's not a very gripping nor engaging one. As mentioned before, players take the reigns of Maverick; however, he's not exactly very talkative and says absolutely nothing throughout the campaign. Instead, Goose, his wingman, does all the talking even when the dialogue isn't even directed at him. Much of the story is told before, during and after missions via radio chatter with some cringe-worthy voice acting, making whatever story there is to be told feel terribly disconnected.
Thankfully, the gameplay is at least a little bit better. It initially feels rather rigid, but after a couple of practice missions, blazing through the skies and executing high G-force maneuvers during dogfights becomes less frustrating. Missiles and other weapon systems are mapped to the face buttons while movement is done with the left analog stick. Hitting the R2 button will give players a slight speed boost while hitting again after the initial boost puts the jet into turbo. L2 acts as the speed break. That's not all players will be able to do though, as holding both shoulder buttons and maneuvering with the analog stick will enable players to perform high G-force maneuvers, thus disengaging any nasty missiles that are locked on. None of it feels that great though.
One of the few highlights of Top Gun is the Controlled Flight Instability camera, or CFI for short. It pulls the camera out from behind the player and tracks targeted enemy planes, giving a more cinematic feel to what can sometimes quickly become very mundane dogfights.
Interestingly enough, Top Gun features regenerative health. This means that players will more than likely never die in this game. If things get too hot, simply fly your way out of a dogfight, regenerate, and jump back in. Weapon systems also have infinite ammo, although there is a cooldown on the missile systems and the machine gun can only be fired for so long before it overheats. This may seem like giving players too much power, but then again, the planes can only take so many hits before going down in a flaming heap of scrap metal.
For a downloadable title, there are a good selection of modes to play with, in addition to the single player campaign. Players can hop online and join in a number of multiplayer games or take on the Horde mode, which pits players against an endless stream of enemies. Think the zombie apocalypse, only with fighter planes. As for online multiplayer, there's nothing jarringly wrong with it, unfortunately, it's just not populated with a lot of players which makes joining games much more difficult than it should be.
Top Gun's presentation is quite hit-and-miss. As mentioned earlier, the voice acting is cringe-worthy and sounds as though the cast was simply reading off the movie script. Plane models look pretty decent with a good amount of attention to details. However, the environments are simply large, monotonous levels that lack any details whatsoever. And while they are large, most missions only takes place in a concentrated area of the map, making one wonder why the level is so huge in the first place.
Top Gun features a disconnected story, shoddy voice acting and very little in terms of gameplay. Missions are mundane and repetitive and the online mode lacks players for obvious reasons. It's not a very enticing package and unless everyone is especially desperate for a flight combat game, don't expect a huge player population when hopping online. At the very least, Horde mode should offer some replay value for those that do invest in this game.