Top Gun: Hard Lock Review

I have been a Top Gun fan for longer than I can remember, and have been
a fan of the F-14 plane all my life. This is a fun little title that
blends the action-oriented feel of Afterburner with the free-flight
freedom of Ace Combat. This game is to air combat games, what Burnout
is for racing games.

Gameplay:
The controls for this game are
simple and intuitive; the emphasis of this game is on speed, and it
pulls it off nicely.

In most flight simulators, when you press “right”
on the stick, the plane moves forward, and just turns sideways. In this
game, when you press right, the plane rolls to the right and banks.
Once you release the stick, the plane auto-levels with the horizon.
This can take some getting used to if you play other flight simulators.
If this is your first, it will feel comfortable and fun. The
auto-leveling of the plane keeps you even with the ground, making it
very hard to crash. I flew on full afterburner under a highway and
breezed under it with ease. The afterburner in this game makes it fun
to fly from one objective to the next, and this is where the game’s
sense of speed really shines.

The Hard Lock mode (Two words, not
one as the product description reads) is very similar to the dogfight
mode in Ace Combat: Assault Horizon, where you follow your opponent very
closely and pepper him with bullets until you can get a missile lock. A
missile lock is acquired by keeping the opponent inside of a circle
while the missile locks on. In Hard Lock mode, you must complete
mini-games, moving the analog sticks in a motion indicated on the
screen. During these mini-games, you and your opponent will perform
various maneuvers, such as “Break right” “Loop the Loop” and “Split-S”
among others. They’re generally easy to pass, and the better you do on
them (you are rated a percentage for each maneuver you perform) the
larger your Hard Lock circle becomes, making it easier to acquire a
target lock. Your Hard Lock can be reversed if you fail at one of the
mini-games, at which point you need to frantically stay outside of your
opponent’s circle, and reverse the Hard Lock again.

Graphics:
Everything
in the game looks pretty decent. There is a “film grain” filter on the
graphics, which cannot be removed. I do not know if this was done
deliberately to make the game feel more “80s” or “retro,” or if it was
done to compensate for the lack of graphics this game has. Either way, I
like it, and I normally hate grainy filters on my games. The planes
look like the iconic planes, and the game takes advantage of the “hard
lock” mode to show off the visuals. There are various skins and decal
sets to unlock for each plane. It may be important to note that there
are no human models in this game. Everything is a vehicle or structure.
While I don’t have a problem with this, it is a noticeable absence,
likely done to save time during development.

Sound:
One
complaint from another customer who reviewed this game was the
repetitive music. While I do agree the music can get repetitive, there
are multiple tracks which I don’t mind repeating, and on Xbox360, you
can pump in your own soundtrack. That being said, the game’s title
screen does feature the Top Gun theme. Everything else sounds like
knock-off versions of “Danger Zone.” All-in-all, the sound is adequate,
and does its job. The voice acting is bland and uninspired, but
passable. One cool thing is that when you have your afterburners on
long enough, your plane makes a sonic boom, and that is a nice touch
that I see in few/no other games.

Overall:
Top Gun: Hard Lock
is an overall solid title. It is made with a very arcade feel to it,
rather than the simulation feel of other games. The big problem this game has, is that you have to buy the
multiplayer separately. A budget title that requires you to pay for the
multiplayer absolutely kills the multiplayer community, and it is
extremely unlikely anyone actually paid for it. When the game drops to
an ACTUAL budget price, of $20 or less, then it would definitely be
worth the pickup. As it is right now, you’re better off buying a
different game.

Pros:
+It’s got the Top Gun theme!
+Tight, responsive controls
+Excellent sense of speed
+Arcade feel blends Afterburner and Ace Combat into an exciting, free-roaming game.

Cons:
-Missions can run a little long
-Music can get repetitive
-Have to pay for multiplayer
-Better games are available for cheaper
-Limited selection of planes

Verdict: 75/100

Details:
Genre

Simulation
Style

Flight Combat Sim
Release Date

March 13, 2012
Developer

Headstrong Games Ltd.
Publisher

505 Games U.S., Inc.

Written by: Brent

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