Top Gun: Combat Zones Preview

Titus may have the movie license for Top Gun, but none of the movie's main elements are present in the current build. Check out our preview for more info.


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Top Gun: Combat Zones has lots of arcade-style elements to it, putting it in the class of an Ace Combat, Air Force Delta, or any other mission-based jet shooter. The game puts you in hostile locations all over the world and asks you to take out air, land, and sea targets. However, it's important and disappointing to note that while the game actually carries the official license for Paramount's classic motion picture Top Gun, the game in its current state has little to do with the events or characters depicted in the film.

The game makes you go through five training missions ranging from simple target practice with your jet's cannons all the way up to dropping bombs on chemical-weapon facilities. The training missions are fairly challenging the first time through, and they're designed to give you a feel for the game's control before you move on to the real battles, which take place over Southeast Asia, the Persian Gulf, Russia, and Miramar, CA.

Where's Maverick?
Where's Maverick?
The game's current control setup is basically identical to the "expert" controls in other console flight combat games. The left analog stick controls your ship's roll and pitch, while the rest of the buttons handle tasks such as activating afterburners, brakes, and weapons. In its current state, the plane's handling seems almost like a mix of simulation- and arcade-style physics. Steering your plane in a direction with any kind of urgency requires that you turn the plane on its side like real Tomcat pilots do. If you're used to arcade-style controls, getting used to flying the planes takes a few hours and involves a lot of crashes and a lot of frustration. However, once you do get used to maneuvering, the game feels very sophisticated.

Just like in any arcade-style jet combat game, Top Gun is split up into missions. The game features 30 missions in all, spanning three eras of aviation. The majority of the missions include objectives such as surgical strikes on enemy locations, providing cover during evacuations, and dogfighting.

Visually, the game looks as though it's shaping up to be a fairly decent looking PlayStation 2 title. The developers have put some of the system's power to good use with nice particle effects that really give the smoke, vapor trails, and clouds a distinct and realistic look. The textures used for the terrain and buildings really look good, as do the majority of the plane models. Some of the models, however, need a little more work, as do some of the surface reflections and lighting routines in the game.

Smoke effects add to the game's realism.
Smoke effects add to the game's realism.
Top Gun's soundtrack and sound effects are actually really good. However, even though we've been playing the game for quite some time now, we unfortunately haven't heard Kenny Loggins' classic Top Gun anthem "Danger Zone," even though the song was predominantly featured in an early conceptual video for the game.

We'll have to wait and see how the final version of the game turns out. Hopefully the developers can adjust the difficulty, and include a set of arcade control-settings, for less-experienced players. Top Gun: Combat Zones is due out this November.

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