Top Gun 2 for the iPhone is an old-school on-rails shooter, much like SEGA’s famous After Burner series, but with better graphics, and yes, available to play on your phone. However, what Top Gun 2 isn’t like, and this is the strange part, is the Top Gun movie. While there is some loose connection to the famous 80’s film, such as missions launching from the USS Enterprise, and the presence of some of the film’s characters, the only other real connection is that you’re flying a plane and shooting down bad guys. Luckily for Top Gun 2 though, this part actually works pretty well.
Top Gun 2 contains seven levels, which doesn’t seem like much at first glance. However, each of these levels turns into quite a prolonged battle against both ground and air forces, with a boss at the end to top it all off when your plane is at its weakest point. The enemies themselves don’t provide the real difficulty in this game (most of them are pretty easy to shoot down once you have a missile lock), but instead the frustration comes from the length of the levels and the bosses at the end, particularly when death results in restarting the level. iPhone games are usually designed for bursts of play, not prolonged slogs, so kudos to Freeverse for trying to make a game with a little more longevity to the levels.
Players get the choice of three different planes (F-14, F-16 or F-18), each provoking a different style of combat, with different special weapons for each plane alongside the default set-up of missiles and machine guns. The planes are all upgradeable as well, with upgrades purchased from the money you earn for shooting down foes and completing levels. Currency takes a while to rack up in Top Gun 2, and although the multiplier increases for each level you complete, unless you’re knocking 95% of the enemies out of the sky in each level, it will take you a while to build up anywhere near enough cash to purchase better equipment, particularly when it comes to the later upgrades.
One thing Top Gun 2 does particularly well is giving the player a sense of speed. Levels zip by at quite a pace, and there is always a lot happening on-screen, with planes arriving both in front of and behind you in pretty large numbers. Whilst the graphics on the whole are good, particularly for your plane and for the landscapes, there is a pretty fatal (both for the game and for the player’s character) flaw in that many of the planes are a similar color to the ground in this game, with the result that it can be quite difficult to spot enemies until they are right on top of you. A similar problem exists with missiles. Because they are so small, it can be difficult to spot, and therefore dodge, them, until you’ve pretty much been hit. Something as small as a warning sound would have alleviated this problem greatly.
If you enjoy punishing old school style shooters, or love aerial combat games, then Top Gun 2 is definitely worth a try. Just be prepared for large doses of frustration each time you get knocked down by a missile you didn’t know was there until it was too late. If you can see past this though, you will find an enjoyable and frenetic shooter, with good graphics and a decent amount of replayability.
- Jack Moulder