Social Gaming Network--known mostly for its social massively multiplayer online games and free sports games up to this point--pulled a tight 180 and hit the afterburners with F.A.S.T., an action-packed, technically accomplished dogfighting game that matches wannabe fighter jocks up for Internet duels. F.A.S.T.'s state-of-the-art presentation, tight controls, and great online play make it one of the best action games around right now.
F.A.S.T. drops you into the cockpit of one of 13 different fighter jets (three of which are unlockable only via in-app purchase), equipped with radar, missiles, cannons, afterburners, and defensive countermeasures. You're up against one or several rival aircraft, either computer-controlled or controlled by other iDevice users across the Internet (or across the room, if you're playing over Bluetooth). Once you've started a game, the objective is simple: You have to blast your opponents out of the sky before they do the same to you.
Your primary weapons are missiles, which can lock on to your targets and deal death with a hit or two. But getting to that point isn't easy--you have to keep the enemy in your sights long enough for your targeting computer to nail him down.
At that point, you "get tone" and fire off your missiles, two at a time. There are long-range and short-range rockets; the first can take baddies out at distance but requires a sustained radar lock, while the second has limited range but is more of a fire-and-forget option. The need to switch adeptly between the two adds a lot of depth to combat.
Of course, the enemy is trying to do exactly the same thing to you, so you'll be playing offense and defense at the same time. It takes real skill to successfully evade attacks while positioning yourself to strike. It's a matter of combining all the controls at your disposal--throttle, rudder, afterburner, defensive chaff, and tilt steering--into seamless maneuvers to outwit your opponent. The controls require some practice, but they fit together naturally, so it's never frustrating.
Nevertheless, this game delivers the sense of being at the controls of an advanced war-fighting machine. The heads-up display looks authentic, and it gives you the info you need without being confusing. The sound effects are excellent, from the lock-on tone to the afterburner's sonic boom.
And the graphics hold their own against the App Store's best. F.A.S.T. renders everything from cloud cover and contrails to the mountainous terrain below with silky smoothness. You can choose from multiple camera angles, and there's even a "missile cam" that lets you follow your payload all the way to the bogey.
The game comes with 30 single-player exercises to work through. This is how you unlock new planes, all of which have different attributes, such as the stealth fighter, which has enormous targeting range.
It's easy to jump into online play. The system matches you up automatically with players of your skill level, and you can also make your own private games--one on one, two on two, or up to a four-way free-for-all. We experienced no lag over a Wi-Fi connection.
F.A.S.T. is an extremely impressive game. Would-be fighter pilots looking for fierce, challenging action are going to have a field day with this one.
This review was provided by GameSpot mobile content partner SlideToPlay.com.