Top Gun: Hornet's Nest

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Top Gun: Hornet's Nest
Top Gun Hornet's Nest cover art.jpg
Developer(s)Zipper Interactive
SeriesTop Gun
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
  • US: December 1998
Genre(s)Combat flight simulation
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Top Gun: Hornet's Nest is a 1998 combat flight simulation game developed by Zipper Interactive and published by MicroProse for Microsoft Windows. It is loosely based on the 1986 film Top Gun, and is a sequel to the 1996 game Top Gun: Fire at Will. The game was criticized for its lack of realism and its flight physics.


Top Gun: Hornet's Nest is a combat flight simulation game. Playing as "Maverick" from the film Top Gun, the player takes control of an F/A-18 Hornet combat jet. The game features three campaign modes, each with 10 missions. Each campaign mode and their missions must be played in order before proceeding. The first mode takes place in Siberia, where the player must stop Russian general Martikov, who has seized nuclear weapons. After stopping Martikov, the second campaign takes place in Iraq, which had purchased nuclear weapons from Martikov. In the final campaign, terrorists have attacked the Panama Canal, requiring the player to travel to Colombia to prevent any further destruction. The player has a wingman throughout the missions.[1][2][3][4]

The player's weapons include missiles and several fictional armaments, such as an aerial cluster bomb capable of destroying a group of close-flying targets. The game offers several perspectives, including a cockpit view with the instrument panel visible, and an external view set from behind the plane.[2] During missions, the player can land the plane to rearm and refuel.[2][3] Some missions have puzzle-solving elements.[5][1] In one mission, the player must slowly sneak through an underground maze while piloting the plane, peeking around corners before proceeding.[2][1]

The game includes the Instant Action mode, in which the player can play a customized round of air combat without a storyline. Instant Action has the player destroy enemy planes and installations for as long as possible before dying. In Instant Action, the player can select any of the three locations, and the number and type of enemies. In addition, the game includes modem and network multiplayer, and also offered online multiplayer through MSN Gaming Zone.[1][2][3][4]

Development and release

Top Gun: Hornet's Nest was developed by American company Zipper Interactive and published by MicroProse as a sequel to Top Gun: Fire at Will (1996). The game was announced in April 1998, and was developed with a new graphics engine over its predecessor.[6][7] MicroProse intended the game to have an emphasis on action rather than simulation.[8] Jim Bosler of Zipper Interactive said the goal was to provide "incredibly intense action and realism, while offering a user-friendly design."[9] James Tolkan reprised his role as Commander Hondo from the previous game.[10] In the United States, Top Gun: Hornet's Nest was released for Microsoft Windows in early December 1998.[11][12][13]


GameSpot's Denny Atkin called the game a "mistargeted, ill-designed mess that's too tough for beginners, too silly for experts, and more an exercise in frustration than in fun."[2] Jeff Lackey of Computer Gaming World believed the game would be too arcade-like for simulation fans, and too difficult for casual gamers. He believed it would appeal to action gamers who enjoyed nonstop combat and puzzle elements.[1] Dean Evans of the United Kingdom's PC Gamer described it as a "limited, bare-bones" game that "seems to have lost the elements that made the original entertaining."[15] Jeremy Wells of PC Zone considered the game too simple and too short, and stated that for people wanting a basic flight simulation game, there "are better-looking and just as accessible flight sims out there already."[17] Andy Mahood of Gamecenter considered the game an uninspired "rehash of an aging movie concept". He also found the game short, and lacking replay value because of it.[4] Marc Dultz of GamePro stated that the game would not appeal to casual flight simulation gamers.[10] Nick Smith of AllGame concluded that it was not "the very best flight sim around," but that it was "certainly an excellent, memorable adventure."[14]

T. Liam McDonald of the U.S. PC Gamer was critical of the previous game, and found Hornet's Nest to be worse, stating that the latter game was only superior with regard to its terrain engine.[16] Tom Chick of Computer Games Strategy Plus considered the terrain adequate but otherwise was critical of the graphics.[5] Mahood stated that the terrain and aircraft visuals, although "reasonably sharp, are also very much on the bland and colorless side."[4] Atkin praised the sound and graphics, but stated that the terrain "is fairly polygonal."[2] Dultz criticized the basic graphics and wrote that with the lack of high-definition detail, it "was often difficult to tell where the sky and ground met."[10] Evans considered the Hornet aircraft "neatly textured and detailed" but was critical of the outdated landscaping.[15] Dultz opined that the Hornet plane barely resembled its real-life counterpart.[10]

The player's wingman was criticized for poor artificial intelligence.[16][10] Dultz stated that the wingman may sometimes "unwittingly crash into a mountain or the desert floor, even though his gas tanks have been topped off and he was never once fired upon."[10] The difficulty was also criticized.[14][1][2] Dultz noted that player and enemy missiles almost always destroy their target, making the game both easy and difficult.[10] Atkin complained of frustrating air-to-ground missiles, which only lock onto vehicles but not buildings.[2]

Lackey considered the missions to be the best and worst aspects of the game, describing them as both "cleverly crafted" and "frustratingly difficult."[1] Atkin wrote about the missions, "They're certainly anything but typical - what other sim lets you navigate your F/A-18 through a maze, Quake-style?"[2] Lackey described the maze level as "the most bizarre mission I've ever seen in a combat flight game".[1] Atkin stated that the game's campaign missions "have far more in common with the corniest of James Bond films than with the Tom Cruise movie." He concluded that there was little to recommend the game, other than "some original (if wacky) mission scenarios."[2] McDonald criticized the "silly" storyline and "sci-fi super-weapons", while describing the latter as feeling "utterly untested." He wrote that the game could have had "some glimmer" of potential with better flight programming and missions that were "actually tested".[16]

Evans felt that the Instant Action and multiplayer modes played better than the main campaign modes,[15] which were criticized by some reviewers for their linear gameplay.[3][17] Stephen Butts of IGN criticized the inability to customize the weather, cloud coverage, and time of day in Instant Action: "This is such a basic thing that I can't believe it was left out. It's always night in Siberia and Columbia always has thick cloud cover. There are no other options."[3] Some critics noted that no one was playing the game on MSN Gaming Zone at the time of their reviews.[3][4]

Criticism went to the game's lack of realism and its flight physics, including the slow plane maneuvers.[5][1][2][15][10][4] McDonald wrote that the Hornet "handles like a pig stuck in the mud,"[16] while Lackey stated that it "is nowhere near as responsive as a real plane."[1] Mahood stated that the plane's flight model and avionics "are so dumbed down that there's precious little to indicate you're flying anything even remotely resembling a jet fighter."[4] Dultz opined that the flight model and avionics "have been watered down to the point where the game feels more like an arcade shooter than a sim-lite."[10]

Chick criticized the "simplified" action for being "generic and dull."[5] Mahood stated that the "cartoon simplicity" would not appeal to hardcore flight simulation gamers, although he considered the game easy to learn.[4] Smith wrote, "Flight purists may frown at how much fun the game is to play and how simplistic the flight controls can be."[14] Butts praised the simplicity of the game, stating that it "strikes a nice balance between realism and playability".[3]

Reviewers stated that the game had only a minimal relation to the film.[5][1][2] Atkin believed that fans of the film would be disappointed, and stated that the game also had little relation to its predecessor.[2] McDonald wrote that the only relation to the film is that "you are named Maverick and James Tolkan (the bald guy from the movie) is around for a few seconds to bark at you."[16] Chick called Tolkan's involvement a "sad presence" in "about three minutes of embarrassingly chintzy video."[5] Dultz believed that Tolkan gave a "credible performance" but stated that the game and supporting cast "crash soon after takeoff."[10] Smith praised the voiceover work.[14]

Top Gun: Hornet's Nest was a top-selling computer game in the U.S. during April 1999.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lackey, Jeff (May 1999). "Off Target". Computer Gaming World. United States. p. 155.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Atkin, Denny (February 24, 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". GameSpot. Archived from the original on January 4, 2005.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Butts, Stephen (February 17, 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". IGN. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Mahood, Andy (February 9, 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". Gamecenter. Archived from the original on September 30, 2000.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Chick, Tom (February 12, 1999). "Top Gun Hornet's Nest: Highway to the Generic Zone". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on April 18, 2003.
  6. ^ Dunkin, Alan (April 8, 1998). "Top Gun License Lives". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 8, 2000.
  7. ^ Ocampo, Jason (April 8, 1998). "A sequel to Top Gun announced". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on November 29, 2002.
  8. ^ "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest – Heavy on the action, light on the simulation". Computer Games Strategy Plus. June 22, 1998. Archived from the original on May 23, 2003.
  9. ^ Wells, Jeremy (Christmas 1998). "Top Gun 2: Hornet's Nest". PC Zone. No. 71. United Kingdom. p. 69.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Marc, Dultz (January 1, 2000). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". GamePro. Archived from the original on March 4, 2004.
  11. ^ Blevins, Tal (November 19, 1998). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". IGN. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  12. ^ Mayer, Robert (December 3, 1998). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest Now On Zone". Computer Games Strategy Plus. Archived from the original on May 23, 2003.
  13. ^ Dunkin, Alan (December 4, 1998). "Top Gun on the Zone". GameSpot. Archived from the original on June 10, 2000.
  14. ^ a b c d e Smith, Nick. "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". AllGame. Archived from the original on November 15, 2014. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e Evans, Dean (April 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". PC Gamer. Archived from the original on November 1, 2000.
  16. ^ a b c d e f McDonald, T. Liam (May 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". PC Gamer. United States. p. 108.
  17. ^ a b c Wells, Jeremy (April 1999). "Top Gun: Hornet's Nest". PC Zone. United Kingdom. p. 94.
  18. ^ "Top Gun Flies to Top Spot". GameSpot. May 6, 1999. Archived from the original on June 17, 2000.

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