For the first time in quite a while, there may be an arcade flight dogfighting game that I may enjoy. Courtesy of 505 Games comes Top Gun, based after the movie staring Tom Cruise of 1986. This game takes place 25 years later and features an entire voiced story campaign along the way.
While I didn’t hear too much about the story itself — save that it would feature similar “bromance” themes — I did get an opportunity to play the game. It’s quite thrilling to fly around in the original F14 Tomcat from the movie, but the final feature will have more crafts available. The game functions largely like most dogfighters, though, it’s upper-hand comes in its easy and intuitive controllability.
Unlike many similar games, tracking down enemy crafts feels natural, and there isn’t a lot of time trying to weave around enemies as they seem to always be behind you, no matter how hard you try to get them in your sights. This is achieved by having an intuitive two-stick design — on the right stick; forward to boost, back to stall, and all the in-betweens to juke. In line with being able to track enemies better comes the hardlock function. When the player tracks an enemy long enough, taking pot shots along the way, a prompt for the ‘x’ button appears that puts the gunplay first as the craft pilots itself.
When the player is in hardlock, the camera becomes focused on the enemy, and the players reticule becomes paramount in targeting. By positioning the aim correctly, the player may lock on to the enemy and get a missile kill. To do this successfully, the player must appropriately react to analog-stick QTEs that appear on-screen.
If the player fails at this, the hardlock may be turned around onto the player. If this happens, players must dodge potshots themselves and hop not to be missile locked. This feature proves to be quite satisfying, and is said to get more difficult and sensitive as the game progresses.
The simple, yet satisfying gameplay is set to an absolutely beautiful enviornment. Headstrong’s in-house engine provides dynamic lighting and scenery, as well as a breathtakingly beautiful sunsets that change the sky as the battle goes on. Even though the build I saw was impressively presented, I was told that it was still being improved and had some improvements already finished that weren’t seen on the E3 build.
Top Gun: Hardlock was a lot of fun for the few minutes that I played it. The game was simple enough to pick up and play, while remaining be a satisfying challenge. It’s clear that the game itself is well-executed, but what will make or break the game is it’s longevity as a fun experience. With a campaign said to be 20 hours, the game must prove to be dynamic and challenging.