By attempting to simultaneously appeal to both the arcade gamer and the flight-sim fanatic, Top Gun tries to offer something for everyone. Unfortunately, like so many games that seek to bridge genres, Top Gun ultimately disappoints both of its intended audiences. The problem lies in its gameplay: too complex for the arcade fan, and too simplistic to pose a real challenge to experienced fighter jocks.
Spectrum seems to have forgotten that the one critical element of any arcade-style game is action. Even on the Arcade setting, Top Gun fails to deliver any sort of rewarding play. Dogfights are typically quick, long range missile engagements, followed by relatively long periods of uneventful flying.
On the other hand, the most critical element of a traditional flight simulation is realism. Once again, Top Gun fails to score a kill. The simplistic combat model is made even worse by the seemingly intentional disregard for realism found in the dialog. To be fair, though, the movie never attempted to be very realistic. This flaw was easily overlooked in the movie because the action, cinematography, and music were all first rate. Sadly, this is not the case with the game.
The graphics in Top Gun are as schizophrenic as the gameplay. In hi-res mode, the aircraft are rendered with detailed texture maps, giving them a nice, clean look on par with US Navy Fighters. Unfortunately, the terrain looks absolutely atrocious. Even in 640x480 resolution, the earth looks blocky and cluttered. Even worse, it is almost impossible to pick out any detail among the flickering brown and green globs (even airports are difficult to see until you are right on top of them.) The cutscenes within the game are often marred by cheesy dialogue and mediocre acting, and even the theme song Dangerzone has been redubbed by an unknown artist.
In summary, Top Gun is a title that is sub-par in almost every aspect. It may be of interest to diehard fans of the movie, or as a training simulation for those intimidated by SU-27 or EF-2000. Everyone else is advised to turn and burn.