reviews\ Nov 28, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Top Gun: Combat Zones - PS2 - Review

Other than Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, not too many games released this year have been very satisfying when it comes to blowing stuff up. How am I supposed to take out my aggression on one of the kid-friendly enemies in Jak and Daxter, or the wussy marionettes from Devil May Cry? It does help to pretend that the marionettes are the members of a certain boyband, but it gets old after a while. Top Gun: Combat Zones is much more satisfying in the field of aggression. Did you have a bad day at work? Blow up a few polygonal planes to ease the pain. Did the cheap members of your family purposely forget to buy you a birthday present for the 10th year in a row? Bomb a virtual tank and smile. Top Gun won't make your job better or convince your family that it's better to give than receive, but it will take you away from your miserable life and allow you to live someone else's miserable life. Believe me, if you were all alone in a Harrier Jet and five enemy planes surrounded you, while several tanks fired from below, your life wouldn't seem so horrible.

The controls are simple and easy to learn. As usual, the left analog stick controls your plane's movements. Pressing forward on the left stick will make your plane go down, and if you pull back on the stick the plane will go up. To make a turn, you must first reposition your plane so that it is leaning on its side. Then pull back on the stick and the plane will react just as it would if you were trying to gain altitude. But because the plane is on its side, it will turn instead. The face buttons -- X, circle, triangle and square -- are used to fire your primary weapon, cycle through your weapons, fire your secondary weapon and change the target, respectively. L1 and R1 control the rudder, while L2 and R2 allow you to brake and accelerate. This makes it easy for gamers of all ages to pick up and play Top Gun. (Note: this game is rated "E" for Everyone, and even though there are a lot of explosions, it's no more violent than the classic shooter 1943 and is suitable for all ages. Parents should not be worried about letting their kids play this game.)

Top Gun has two game modes -- Quickstart and the simply titled "Game." Game is the main mode, offering gamers a plethora of missions to complete. There are three eras to choose from, but you must defeat the first era before the second one will become available, etc. Within the first era, there are five Academy missions, all of which must be completed before the Warzone missions can be selected.

Despite what it says on the back of the box, the Quickstart mode does not allow you to build an unlimited number of new missions. You can build many variations of each mission, but it's hardly a new experience each and every time. It is fun, just not as deep as Titus would have you believe.

Graphically, Top Gun is neither "astounding" nor "very detailed." That's not to say that this is an ugly game, because it's anything but. However, the excessive amount of fog may make you think otherwise. The backgrounds are no more detailed than Star Wars Starfighter. Most of the environments are fully rendered, but it's hard to think of these graphics as being beautiful after playing Star Wars: Rogue Leader. I know that Rogue Leader is on the GameCube, a console that is slightly more powerful than the PlayStation 2. But the PS2 has not reached its peak yet, and its power can be utilized much more efficiently than Titus seems to realize. Top Gun is a decent looking game, but don't expect to be blown away by it.

Flight simulator fans will surely enjoy Top Gun: Combat Zones, but at this time, it might be best to rent the game first. $50 is a lot of money to spend, especially at the one time of the year when there are tons of must-have games available. Top Gun is a good buy, but don't choose it over something like Silent Hill 2 unless you've played it first. Even then, I still recommend that you rent it before making a purchase.

#Reviewer's Scoring Details

Gameplay: 7
Top Gun is stress-relieving fun! There's nothing like cruising around the sky in an F-14. You speed past the enemy, do a one-eighty and send a missile his way. It's moments like these that make a good game even better.

Graphics: 6 
The plane models are pretty impressive and the backgrounds look nice too. There is quite a bit of fog though, and overall Top Gun is doesn't look as polished as other flight simulators.

Sound: 6
Flight simulators are rarely known for having good music. I doubt that anyone will remember Top Gun for its music, but if the game is still on my mind ten years from now, the soundtrack is what I'll be thinking about. My personal favorite is the short tune that plays when you die.

Difficulty: 6
The controls are very simple and will be learned by most gamers in a matter of minutes. This isn't an easy game, but there are several difficulty levels to choose from, making Top Gun accessible to all gamers.

Concept: 5 
Top Gun is a good game, but it doesn't play like anything I haven't played before.

Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7
Top Gun: Combat Zones is an arcade-type flight simulator loaded with things to blow up. It's not perfect, but next to Star Wars Starfighter, Top Gun is the best flight simulator on the PlayStation 2.


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