Top Gun: Combat Zones
|Top Gun: Combat Zones|
|Developer(s)||Digital Integration (PS2/GameCube)|
Titus Interactive Studio (GBA)
|Publisher(s)||Titus Interactive (PS2/GameCube)|
|Release||October 2001 (PS2)|
October 2002 (GameCube)
April 2003 (Windows)
December 1, 2004 (GBA)
|Genre(s)||Combat flight simulation|
Top Gun: Combat Zones is a combat flight simulation game named after the 1986 film Top Gun. It was developed by British studio Digital Integration and published by Titus Interactive. It was originally released for the PlayStation 2 in 2001, followed by a GameCube version in 2002. Versions were also released for the Game Boy Advance and Microsoft Windows. Top Gun: Combat Zones received "mixed or average reviews" according to Metacritic.
Top Gun: Combat Zones is a combat flight simulation game. The game includes the main "Game" mode and the "Quick Start" mode. Game mode features 36 missions played across three eras, set respectively in Vietnam, the Gulf States, and the Arctic Circle. Several training missions take place at San Diego's Miramar base at the beginning of each era before the player moves on to live combat. The player begins with an F-14 Tomcat fighter jet. Seven additional planes are unlocked as the game progresses: F-18 Hornet, F-22 Raptor, F-4 Phantom, JSF, YF-23, Osprey, and Harrier.
There are various mission objectives, such as destroying a target, providing air support for an evacuation, or escorting allies. Each mission includes a time limit. The player's weapons include bombs, a machine gun, and several types of missiles. A map informs the player of nearby enemies, although it does not specify their altitude. The player can view the game from within the cockpit, or can choose from several exterior perspectives. Points are awarded to the player for actions such as flying close to buildings or performing certain aerial moves. In Quick Start, the player can create a customized mission with selectable settings such as the number of enemies and the playing location. The GameCube version includes "simple" and "expert" controller settings. The Game Boy Advance version features the same locations as the other versions.
Development and release
In January 1999, Titus Software announced that it had secured the rights to produce video games based on the 1986 film Top Gun. The game is named after the film but is not directly related. Top Gun: Combat Zones was developed by Titus' Digital Integration, and was published by Titus in October 2001, for PlayStation 2 (PS2).
In February 2002, Titus announced that it would release a GameCube version of Top Gun: Combat Zones. The GameCube version featured improvements over the PS2 version, including enhanced resolution and draw distance, and the addition of new control options. The GameCube version was released later in 2002.
A Microsoft Windows version was released in Europe in April 2003. In late 2004, Mastiff re-released the game on PS2 and GameCube through a deal with Titus. The Game Boy Advance version, developed by Titus, was also published by Mastiff in 2004.
Top Gun: Combat Zones received "mixed or average reviews" according to Metacritic. Reviewers noted that aside from the title, the game has no relation to the film. Fran Mirabella III of IGN found the title misleading. Barak Tutterrow of GameSpy's PlanetPS2 was surprised that Digital Integration did not take advantage of the "opportunity that the Top Gun name offers". Doug Radcliffe of GameSpot was disappointed that the game did not make more use of the Top Gun license. Shane Reed of Play stated that despite the lack of characters from the film, the "spirit of Top Gun certainly shines through," thanks to "slick replays and strategically placed" 1980s rock music.
Reviewers criticized the game's minimal storyline. Steve Steinberg of GameSpy stated that the game contains "just the barest bones of a storyline". Ralph Edwards of IGN stated that the pre- and post-mission screens "are rather boring, the presentation is very generic and there's not really a story that gives you a reason to fight." Tutterrow wrote "you will most likely wish for something interesting to reward you between missions, or at least provide some closure."
GameZone's Louis Bedigian felt that Top Gun: Combat Zones and Star Wars: Starfighter were the best flight games available for the PS2. Other critics opined that Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies was a superior game. Tim Surette of GameZone wrote, "Entertaining at times, frustrating at others, Top Gun never really picks gamers up and takes them away." Edwards stated that the game "offers the base of what could be a very fun game, but just doesn't back it up with the fun part." Computer and Video Games called it a "dull shoot 'em up" with "no real sense of speed to the craft you're piloting," and combat that is "long-winded, frustrating and fiddly." Critics considered the controls easy to use, but were critical of the in-game map for difficulty in locating enemies. Radcliffe criticized the presence of a time limit. GamePro stated that the missions can become surprisingly dull and repetitive, and wrote, "There's often little tension, making the game feel less like flying in combat and more like running errands." AllGame's Jon Thompson praised the game's variety, but stated that the planes largely handled the same as one another.
Some critics praised the visuals, but felt that the game did not take full advantage of the PS2's graphical capabilities. Shawn Sanders of Game Revolution was critical of the graphics, while Thompson considered them average. Some criticized the explosions for their poor graphical quality. Radcliffe considered the plane explosions "particularly unimpressive," stating that they resemble "toy plane models detonated by firecrackers."
Sanders stated that the sound was probably the only decent aspect of the game. Edwards praised the sound effects, but was critical of the "goofy elevator music." Tutterrow also praised the sound effects, but described the music as "more fitting for taking a nap to then fighting for your life." Radcliffe found the use of rock music uninspired, and GamePro was critical of the "subdued" sound effects and "cheesy" guitar riffs. Thompson considered the music average and the sound effects generic.
Some critics considered the GameCube version to be an improvement over its PS2 counterpart. Lee Skittrell of Computer and Video Games praised the improved controls and higher resolution of the GameCube version, but still found the graphics unremarkable. Skittrell also stated that the game was still lacking a "real sense of speed," writing that "surely tearing through canyons in a fighter jet should be far more exciting than this?" Skittrell believed that Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II – Rogue Leader was a superior game.
Surette praised the GameCube version for its graphics and simple controls. Mirabella described the graphics, especially at low altitude, as "blurry and outdated." Steinberg had mixed feelings about the graphics of the GameCube version, stating that the game looked better while flying at high altitude. He also felt that the "simple" and "expert" control settings were too easy and too difficult respectively. Steinberg enjoyed the sound effects of the GameCube version, but described the music as "generic techno junk". Mirabella criticized the mix of "cheesy" guitar ballads and "modern techno beats". Surette considered the sound to be below average.
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