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Top Gun (PlayStation 3) artwork

Top Gun (PlayStation 3) review

"It would be completely fair to suggest that there are worse flight sims available than the newest reiteration of Top Gun, but it would be foolish not to then consider just how many are better."

There‘s at least a 50% chance that there will be beach volleyball.

The real tragedy here is that Top Gun wanted to make a bigger splash than Goose’s corpse hitting the water after a bad ejection mashed him with the canopy. Jack Epps Jr., one of the original screenwriters for the film was brought onboard, and a great deal of attention was given to provide a distinct 1980’s vibe. Battle your way to the last section of the (becoming dangerously obligatory) constantly-spawning Horde mode, and you’ll even get to jam out to Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone”.

Nostalgia aside, though, Top Gun doesn’t have a lot going for it. While it would be unrealistic to expect an epically spanning campaign, the game is a scant eleven missions long, set across three settings. You’ll start life off at flight school before graduating to Top Gun academy, then taking on the bulk of the action over the Indian ocean. Here, things revolve around getting missile locks established, either on enemy jets or land-based targets, and little else. Ground strikes often provide a welcome break from dogfights that always seem to play out the same and mean that once you figure out a safe way to take out one enemy, you’ve found a safe way to take them all down.

They all play out the same. Enemies will never try any other tactic than to try and pull off tight circles, strafing around you, so, once you deal with that comfortably, the game is won. Although the slice of sky you fly in is open plan, there never seems to be much of a sense of chasing down targets or, on the flip side, trying to out-run them. Ground targets provide some kind of reprieve, simply for the opportunity to show off more. Though the flight controls do feel a little loose, with time, it’s entirely possible to let fly a barrage of missiles, banking away into a death roll or spinning out into a tight loop for your own viewing gratification.

Attempts to break the trend exist in a CFI (Controlled Flight Instability) mode that will allow you to scale the camera angle right back. From here, you’ve more chance to express your aviation talents, and are gifted new and exciting ways to blow other people up. It’s a lot like Bullet Time, but a mile up in the atmosphere and strapped into the cockpit of a strategically shaped hunk of multi-million metal.

Perhaps the average game could have been saved by the pen of Epps Jr., but, instead, the game’s plot plays out like an amateurish Top Gun Abridged would, complete with flat, emotionlessly delivery of famous lines and an ugly attempt to condense huge chunks of the movie into unserviceable 20 second CGIs. That so much effort had gone to recreate the iconic time frame the film was made and that an original screenwriter was called in to over see, the abject failure of the game to retell any of the major plot points with any coherency is as surprising as it is damning.

The truncated, ugly plot progression, the middling gameplay and the lack of length make Top Gun a hard game to get behind. It does offer a varied amount of multiplayer options, but too few people are currently online to fight it out with. Extras consist of further unlockable fighter jets and…. nothing else. As such, it feels like an extended demo reel more than a full game, even when viewed as a downloadable title. And one that seems to work against its source material rather than embrace it.

It would be completely fair to suggest that there are worse flight sims available than the newest reiteration of Top Gun, but it would be foolish not to then consider just how many are better.

EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (September 11, 2010)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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