Today I got all sorts of caught up in the danger zone. Also, I flew a plane.
The only thing worse than a movie-tie-in game is a movie-tie-in game made for a movie that came out over twenty years ago right? Well, normally one would be inclined to agree (though I have hopes for Aliens: Colonial Marines), and the hopeful may actually have an example to point to in Top Gun: Hard Lock about how a game based on an old franchise can actively not suck. For real.
In no way shape or form did I expect to enjoy Top Gun: Hard Lock going in. Hell, I barely enjoyed the 80’s cold-war propaganda flick that was the original film. Luckily, Top Gun is really only Top Gun in name. Sure, characters like Maverick make brief/simple cameos to reestablish that you are in the same universe as the Top Gun film, but really this is a jet fighter game that got the rights to a popular franchise to have a bigger budget/help in marketing. Which is probably why it works.
The game isn’t overly complicated, in fact most about it is kind of embarrassing. The story? Weak. The dialogue? Uber weak. But none of that matters when you are just having fun playing a game, and despite all of my expectations I was, I really was. Without a doubt, Top Gun: Hard Lock is my “diamond in the rough” so far for Backlog Quest II (Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion doesn’t count cause I had modest hopes for it going in).
This isn’t a flight sim, it is just some good old fashioned blowing shit up while going faster than the speed of sound. Plenty of dog fighting and tactical bombing keeps you busy in the often frantic missions (though there are a few to many “protect the ship/squad/whatever” missions). Once you really start to get the hand of flying the jets in Top Gun it does what so many of these types of games try to do; it makes you feel like a jet flying bad-ass pilot who could take on all of Russia.
The Real gimmick in Top Gun: Hard Lock is the whole “Hard Lock” feature. Basically, if you fly into an enemies planes flight path (from behind) you can “lock on” to them. What follows is a sometimes intense battle sequence that has a mix of quick time event to it. You attempt to lock on to your enemy as the game controls the ship and you only control the aim. If you take to long your enemy will attempt to perform a move to evade you, and if you can pull off a counter move quicker (moving the twin sticks in the direction identified on screen) you stay locked on and your aiming recital gets larger making it easier to target. If you fail, you then have the enemy on your ass and you must evade them instead. It is the more time consuming but sure fire way to take down enemy planes and it also is a useful strategy to get an enemy fighter to disengage attacking an ally.
Also, machine guns are not only incredibly useful but somewhat encouraged in Top Gun. It isn’t all missiles, which I really liked.
So yes, you must bear a horrible story and voice acting as you progress through the game, but it is totally worth it for the just plain simple fun provided within. Some of the levels get frustratingly difficult as well, but nothing that can’t be beaten with a little strategy, luck and persistence. It is by no means a perfect game, but since it is practically bound for the clearance and bargain bins I have to say that I recommend trying it out if you enjoy this type of game at all.
Tomorrow it’s game over man, game over! As I take up arms in Aliens: Infestation.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: ~7-8 Hours
Gamer Score Earned: 455/1000 (so far)
Price Bought at: $9.99
Current Price: $17.77 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: $9.99 is a great price for this, no really!
Why you should buy it: Just plain fun jet fighter game.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You can’t turn off the part of your brain that is disgusted by bad story and dialogue. It is difficult with this one.