Top Gun: Hard Lock for PlayStation 3 Review

Top Gun: Hard Lock for PlayStation 3 Review

This military combat game continues the Top Gun game series, based on the 1986 Tom Cruise film, while concentrating on action scenarios and battle strategy as the Top Gun Academy pilots take to the skies.

The Hype

Move over Maverick and Ice Man — a brand new class of aviation hero is ready to take the skies. In 505 Games’ Top Gun: Hard Lock, players get to test their aerial combat skills while also being introduced to a new modern-day twist on the “Top Gun” franchise.

Only the best of the best are chosen for Top Gun. The chance to prove your skill is a given – but survival is not guaranteed! Use an accessible control scheme to pilot 14 of the world’s most advanced aircraft in this fast-moving flight combat sim. Fly through 15 white-knuckle missions in a story-based single-player campaign that unfolds in cinematic style. Choose from co-op and competitive online dogfights for up to 16 throttle jockeys at once. The stakes are highest in Hard Lock Mode, where there’s no escape once you’ve got a target lined up. Use the Hard Lock feature to engage the enemy, lock on, and let ’em have it.

Whether an aviator, military buff or film fanatic, Top Gun: Hard Lock is guaranteed to propel players into adrenaline-fueled, dog fighting missions while tailgating MiGs at Mach 2. Those at the throttle will also be challenged to master the game’s Hard Lock Mode and perform high-G aerial combat maneuvers to destroy enemy pilots.

The Reality

The military jet action game, inspired by the 1986 Top Gun film, concentrates on battles and action filled scenarios with not much character development on the Top Gun Academy pilots. Players can hear familiar Top Gun phrases, which are a bit overdone and repetitive, as game developers mainly hit their target by creating a fun, exhilarating combat game.

Flight sim fans might miss details like detailed airspeed and other settings, but the essential navigation and weapons displays are there. The sense of space and movement capabilities correspond well with the simple controls. The color schemes and icons are prominent enough for easy communication while the control button schemes flow nicely between speed and weapons.

The 14 playable licensed planes include the F14D Super Tomcat, F22 Raptor and F/A-18F Super Hornet. The planes have a sharp detailed visual representation while the fairly grainy environment and background visuals reflect the dry, arid Middle Eastern settings where debris and airborne particles would be common, especially in flight. The pixellated backgrounds initially distract, but it’s easy to adjust then focus more on the military targets.

Top Gun: Hard Lock for PlayStation 3 Review

The single player mode features 15 campaign missions, which take about 30 minutes each to complete. Each mission has several components involving defense, ground unit, target hunting, dogfights, and covering allies using standard cannons, missiles and cluster bombs. The optional secondary missions reward players with additional allied support including aircraft and ground units. Other rewards include a larger target area for the special lock-on feature.

The Danger Zone mode features single player fight against increasingly sizable enemy groups. The weapons, navigation, and maneuvering capabilities change as players progress while providing appealing variety and unpredictable with each challenge. The online multiplayer mode contains the same elements and interfaces, but underwhelms due to lack of participation from other players.

Top Gun: Hard Lock for PlayStation 3 Review

The featured hard lock system lets player engage enemies in a closer camera angle. Just maneuver then align to target enemies and keep them in the target sights. Game developers incorporate a nice buffer zone when activating this feature and hitting the corresponding buttons once engaged, so exact precision helps, but is not required.

Easy right? This feature has obvious battle advantages…just don’t let the enemy turn the tables. Players can avoid most defensive scenarios as their skills and control familiarity increase, but even enemy missile locks don’t necessarily mean the end of the line.  Special air combat maneuvers (ACMs) can help players out of tough situations when they move their controls (left and right analog sticks) according to the prompted icons. ACM variety and difficulty increase with game progression.

Top Gun: Hard Lock for PlayStation 3 Review

Dodging missiles with special moves or flares can be challenging and satisfying. Timing is everything here as avoiding close encounters increases the exhilarating gameplay. Other common challenges include adverse weather plus radar-jamming planes and radar stations.

The driving rock/guitar filled music soundtrack provides additional appeal and the impressive sound effects are well-timed and exciting.

The entertaining gameplay and creative scenarios provide fun flying battles for players skilled at various levels. Also available on PC and Xbox 360.

Review: Top Gun: Hard Lock

Where to Buy: and other stores

Price: $39.99

What I Like:  fun elements, combat scenarios, nice “buffer zone” for targeting/weapons, linked quick time events, price break, clear interface

What Needs Improvement: transitions, unnecessary profanity, no cockpit view, mission variety, repetitive dialogue

Source: Copy provided by publisher

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