“Highway to the Danger Zone -I’ll take you – Right into the Danger Zone”. First impressions are important, and at times the first impression really deceives you. I started Top Gun and immediately felt the love to the Tom Cruise hit movie from 1986. The Top Gun logo, the music, and the characters are all, in a way, in the game.
The story is told in a cartoon fashion with basic picture and text. Where are the voiceovers? You are a new recruit and have to earn your wings and fly alongside Maverick and Iceman. All hell breaks loose during the first training mission and you find yourself in the danger zone.
Flying is all controlled by the accelerometer and works quite well when you are sitting with the iPhone more or less horizontally. You can pause to get it to recalibrate which is good feature, there is no sensitivity setting though.
Two weapon systems are available, Vulcan cannons and missiles. The Vulcans you fire by touching a button in the left bottom corner. Missiles you have to lock on to targets before firing using a button in the bottom right corner. You have unlimited ammo for both systems so fire away. I feel that both buttons are a bit small and unresponsive and I have a hard time getting the Vulcans to fire.
Your jet covers one ninth of the screen and looks a bit unpolished. Incoming missiles and other threats are shown as danger zones on the screen. The screen is divided into nine danger zones and you have to keep your jet out of them. Avoiding danger zones while obliterating the opposition gets old real quick. This is a rail shooter where you only have a set path to follow. I have played ExZeus and Iron Man in the same genre and think that both play and look better than Top Gun.
Top Gun didn’t live up to the first impression I got at all, but if it sounds like a game for you, get it while it is still at introductionary $1.99.
Presentation & Graphics
There is always a lot going on in Top Gun which means that you won´t really notice the graphical shortcomings, but I have to mention them in my review. Ugly jet fighter graphics, unrealistic explosions and big danger zone signs covering the screen. The sky looks good and nicely layered whereas the water look stale and lifeless.
The story being told in ugly jagged cartoons is the biggest letdown when it comes to presentation. I can barely make out the resemblance from the cast of Top Gun. A real downer as I had hoped that they used material from the movie. This could just as well have had any other title than Top Gun as they don’t capitalize on the license.
The soundtrack is great and if you have seen the movie you will feel transported to the mid eighties. Weapon fire sounds good but all the bleeps of danger and missile locks get annoying quickly. No voiceovers, how is it possible not to include some of the original one-liners?
Shooting enemies while avoiding obstacles and missiles is quite fun in Top Gun. I think it is good to have obstacles to avoid but I don’t think the danger zone mechanic is a good design choice. Why you choose to divide the screen in nine parts and then flash danger zone over them I can’t understand. It looks ugly and it is hard to tell if your jet is inside the danger zone or not as it is quite large in screen. I often find myself crashing into incoming missiles even though I clearly have been outside the danger zone, collision detection feels sketchy.
It is really intense from start to finish, which is really important in rail shooters. Once you get a hang of the balance between attacking and avoiding, you will start enjoying the game much more but it takes some practice.
Only one level of difficulty but you can earn achievements and medals during the ten missions. Each mission can be completed within ten minutes making this a fairly short game if you are a versed in the art of rail shooters. Linear and predictable story gives you no incentive to replay it.
Top Gun is a disappointment for me, who saw this movie in my youth and loved it back in the day. The music is a blast to relive the good old days, but you are better off listening to the cd soundtrack. If you want an intense shooter this might be a good choice, but it is definitely not a stroll down memory lane for those of us with fond memories of Top Gun.