Over G Fighters Hands-On

We climb into the cockpits of more than 30 powerful jet fighters, as we check out a near-finished version of Ubisoft's Xbox 360 combat flight sim.


Currently scheduled for release toward the end of this month, Over G Fighters is a Taito-developed combat flight sim in which you'll get to take the controls of more than 30 of the world's most powerful jet fighters. We recently had an opportunity to spend some time with a near-finished version of the game, and although its presentation isn't particularly impressive, we're pleased to report that the game appears to offer plenty in the way of depth and challenge, without getting so bogged down in realism that it's inaccessible to any of you who haven't already earned your wings in a flight sim previously.

The heads-up display really isn't as complicated as it looks.
The heads-up display really isn't as complicated as it looks.

Over G Fighters is set in the near future, at a time when the whole planet is on the verge of becoming a unified world state. The recently established World Federation Preliminary Establishment Committee was forced into action when militant groups started causing trouble, however, and so the International Special Peace Corps--also known as the Energy Air Force--was born, and that's where you come in. When you choose to start a new game in Over G Fighters, you can choose between beginner and expert levels of difficulty, and you'll then be invited to jump into the story-driven scenario mode, the challenge mode, or Xbox Live play with up to seven other pilots. For the purpose of this preview, we've been playing the scenario mode exclusively.

Before taking off for the first time in Over G Fighters, you'll want to check out the game's settings screen, where you can customize just about every aspect of your controller setup that you could possibly want to. The customization options available to you include adjusting the sensitivity of your analog sticks, choosing whether or not you want to use inverted controls to fly your plane, setting how much your controller vibrates, and opting for either arcade-style or realistic plane handling. Further options that can be switched on to make the game less daunting when you fly for the first time include automatic weapon selection, automatic firing of chaff and flares, and automatic landing at bases.

Once you've settled on your game settings and opted for the scenario mode, you'll find yourself sitting in the cockpit of an F-14 Tomcat about to take off from an aircraft carrier somewhere off the coast of North America. In the mission that follows, which serves as a tutorial of sorts, you'll be tasked with shooting down four enemy planes alongside a lone wingman. You'll learn to maximize the effectiveness of your wingmen by giving them simple instructions as you progress through the game, such as telling them to form up alongside you, attack a specific target, or cover you. You'll also hear from your rear pilot occasionally, who, like Goose in Top Gun, often walks a fine line between being helpful and being irritating.

With the tutorial mission out of the way, your next destination will be Central Africa, where a militant faction is believed to be stockpiling weapons. There are several quite different missions for you to complete in the skies above Central Africa before you can progress to the scenario mode's next territory, with objectives such as escorting a transport aircraft, intercepting enemy fighters, and protecting ground forces from enemy helicopters. You'll also find another training mission here, which tasks you with manually taking off and landing in the aircraft of your choice. We're unsure how many different aircraft will be unlocked for you the first time you play, since they're all available from the outset in our preview build of the game, but we can tell you that choosing the right bird and right armaments can make some of the missions noticeably less difficult.

Choosing the wrong aircraft for a mission can make it noticeably harder.
Choosing the wrong aircraft for a mission can make it noticeably harder.

Every aircraft in Over G Fighters has ratings for six different attributes: power, meaning its acceleration and speed; air, meaning air-to-air firepower; ground, meaning air-to-ground firepower; sea, meaning air-to-sea firepower; avionics, meaning the quality of its onboard electronics that handle target acquisition and such; and mobility, meaning how maneuverable it is. In addition to those attributes, some of the aircraft in the game have special abilities that can be activated at the push of a button. The F-22A Raptor, for example, has a stealth mode, while the remarkable feat of engineering that is the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter is able to hover and land vertically.

Regardless of your choice of aircraft, you'll find that Over G Fighters' controls are responsive and, once you've spent a little time with them, quite uncomplicated. All of the jet fighters in the game feature customizable heads-up displays, and you'll be able to switch between three different camera perspectives--behind the plane, on the nose, and your chosen plane's cockpit--on the fly. Pun intended. The right analog stick is used to move your chosen camera around, but at no point will you be allowed to see anything that your chosen pilot character couldn't by turning his head.

We've really only scratched the surface of what Over G Fighters promises to offer at this point, but we look forward to bringing you a full review of the game in the not-too-distant future.

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