Over G Fighters is the latest jet-fighter simulation from Taito, though it's the first from the company to be released in North America. Like the Energy Airforce games that Taito put out on the PlayStation 2, Over G is a very stock, very standard game that puts you into one of the game's 30-plus jets and has you go through mission after mission. Though the game attempts to be more than mission-based monotony by also offering online multiplayer and some other options, the sluggish flight controls, bland graphics, and often-poor English translations conspire to make Over G Fighters a vapid package, overall.
The bulk of the game's action is found in its story mode, which sends you on several missions as you attempt to take out a terrorizing army that's got its hands in conflicts around the globe. Each set of missions is broken up into its own campaign, and as you select missions, other branches in the campaign become unavailable. Since some specific missions unlock planes (and achievement points), this means you'll either have to follow along with a FAQ or play through multiple times to receive every reward.
Each mission branch ends up in the same place, though. At the end of every area, you'll get into one or two longer missions that have you fulfilling multiple roles. For example, in the first part you might have to dust a couple of enemy fighters, but the second part might have you launching air-to-ground missiles at tanks. Unfortunately, the difference between these two activities really isn't much.
The big problem with Over G is that it's incredibly straightforward. Fly at your target, get a missile lock, fire, move to the next target, and repeat the process until you're out of missiles. Then, you'll wait for your weapons to recharge, wait and see if your missiles hit (they almost always do on the default difficulty setting), and move on to the next target group. Some missions give you four planes to shoot down that are put right in front of you, a task that might take a minute or so to accomplish. Later on, you'll encounter a few different types of missions, including one that has you fly low through a canyon to avoid radar stations and antiaircraft fire. But for the most part, the game lines up the targets and waits for you to take them out.
The control in the game is sluggish, and even the most maneuverable planes feel broken when you try to turn. Playing on the "real" control setting instead of the default arcade-style setting helps a bit, but overall, the movement never feels quite right and attempting to get around on enemy fighters is usually awkward. In addition to jet control, you can also use the triggers to assign commands to your wingman. While you can lead your wingman to a dogfight, you can't make him fight effectively. Though he'll be able to watch your back in a couple of the more hectic situations, most of the chatter you hear from him discusses how he's currently in trouble and could use some help. You're probably better off just forgetting that he's even there.
Your pilot has statistics that slowly improve as you play, though the purpose of a stat named "mental" isn't immediately obvious. Other stuff, such as evasion, visual range, G-resist, and hit, seem like they'd be helpful, but even as they improve, there's very little discernable difference in your pilot's actual performance.
In addition to the game's campaign scenarios, you can play in challenge mode, which is more of a freeform mode that has you take off, fight waves of enemies, then land to refuel and rearm. Since your plane only holds a few missiles, the constant restocking gets old fast. The multiplayer mode allows up to eight players to play over Xbox Live in two modes. Arena mode has you join one of four sides (of up to two planes each), and you then launch attacks on other players. Versus mode is a team mode. Like other Xbox 360 games' versus mode, Over G's versus mode can be played in both ranked and unranked conditions. Functionally, the multiplayer works fine, and since players eventually get pretty good at dodging incoming missiles, it's more challenging than the solo play, as well. But it isn't deep enough to keep you coming back.
The sound in Over G Fighters is pretty standard and delivers roughly what you'd expect, though it's often difficult to tell when you're getting shot up by antiaircraft fire. Most of the explosions sound fine, and the sound of jets flying by is done reasonably well. The music is a bunch of generic guitar rock that you'll certainly wish was Kenny Loggins' classic "Danger Zone." But none of it even comes close. Perhaps comparing Japanese jet-game music to the theme to Top Gun is a little unfair, but it's pretty obvious that's the feel the developer was going for, and the music here doesn't get the job done. The voice work is amazingly flat and uninspired, especially during the mission briefings, but the canned responses from your wingman aren't much better.
Visually, the game has a dry, bland look to it that doesn't fit with the rest of the Xbox 360's lineup. Visual effects are kept to a minimum, and aside from good-looking water, the ground doesn't look so hot. The plane models look good, but since you're going to be firing missiles from a distance, you'll never get a good look at them outside of the plane select screen unless you choose the behind-the-plane view, which isn't so great. You can also opt for a cockpit view, which blocks too much of the screen to be effective. The first-person, cockpit-free viewpoint is the most useful perspective available.
All in all, Over G Fighters is a dull jet simulator with shoddy controls, lackluster mission design, and a modest presentation. At a budget price, this game would be slightly easier to swallow, but it's a bum deal at $59.99.