With the remarkable success of Top Gun: Maverick, you may be wondering where the videogame tie-in is? Aside from a DLC pack added to Microsoft Flight Simulator and Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, there’s been nothing new to talk about. However, Doublesix Studios’ Top Gun, now more than a decade old, is perhaps the answer we’ve been looking for.
The Guildford-based team, now swallowed into Curve Games, was carving itself a respectable reputation. The studio was delivering perfectly formed downloadable entertainment packages, with Burn! Zombie! Burn! and South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play! both having received their fair share of praise. However, the studio upped their game for a retelling of Maverick and Goose’s rise through the ranks at the Fighter Weapons School.
Top Gun Brings in the Big Guns
Written by Jack Epps Jr., writer of the original 1986 motion-picture, the storyline plays a unsurprisingly strong part in the game. Expanding on the original plotline – as well as pushing at the edges to allow for more interesting gameplay – the single-player campaign casts the player as the “top gun” himself, Maverick. Many familiar faces appear, adding both depth to the plot and assistance during fights.
The combat is fluid and controls are responsive. More craft and missile combinations become available to players as a reward for progression through the campaign. In addition to the usual boost, brake and yaw controls manoeuvres, Top Gun introduces players to a mechanic known as C.F.I..
C.F.I. adds an awesome amount of manoeuvrability to the aircraft; acting much like Star Fox 64/Lylat Wars’ flips and u-turns, the C.F.I. allows the player to dodge and weave in an attempt to shake opponents. The difference here is that by pressing the Circle button the player is given a top-view of their craft. This allows them to manoeuvre as they wish with the left analog stick while still having access to the boost and brakes. Limited by a automatically refilling meter to avoid overuse, C.F.I. was a groundbreaking new invention for flight-combat games.
Are You the Top Gun, or Just Another Pilot?
Battling both ground- and air-based targets, the player will quickly find the difficulty ramping-up once the initial missions have been completed. This could possibly deter some less-convinced players. Thankfully then, there’s also the Horde Mode available when playing alone. Horde Mode allows players to take their aircraft straight into combat, battling against waves of increasingly difficult enemies with an Arcade sentimentality.
In addition to the single-player options, online multiplayer for up to 16 players is included in the package. This was obviously intended to be the primary gameplay mode, despite its position on the menu. Back in 2010, online connectivity was easily established. But even at launch finding a game could be troublesome. Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Top Gun and Bombing Run modes are available, most of which will be instantly familiar. Bombing Run is a team-based mode wherein players must either attack or defend against an incoming bomber. Easily the most interesting of the multiplayer modes, Bombing Run became the favourite of most players.
As Far as the Eye Can See…
Top Gun is a fairly attractive looking game for it’s time. An understated visual quality allows for a greater draw distance and fewer errors. Though it may not match the visual fidelity of it’s most direct competition of the time, Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. 2, it most certainly sits comfortably as one of the PlayStation 3’s most well drawn games. The sound quality is also commendable, and not just due to the inclusion of Danger Zone.
The PlayStation Network built a catalogue of increasingly strong games in the PlayStation 3 era. Both original concepts and expertly crafted packages that would otherwise have been dropped on-disc, with a considerably higher price-tag. Top Gun is most certainly a game that was comprehensive enough in it’s flight-combat gameplay to have demanded four times the price from players. Yet presented here as a wallet-friendly downloadable title. That the game is such a strong argument against forking-out for a full-price retail release shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as that’s exactly what Doublesix are becoming famous for.