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Ocean Software Ltd
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.95
£2.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Multiple schemes (see individual downloads)

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25
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Fabulous real-time graphics, a funky three- channel soundtrack and seat-of-the-pants action. Yes, Ocean has brought out yet another licensed game with none of these features.

The film from which the game of Top Gun was spawned relied on stunningly photographed dog fights between two F14 Tomcat jet fighters but Ocean hasn't even tried to recapture the excitement in its game graphics, which are almost non-existent.

Combat conveniently takes place at night, giving Ocean an excuse for black background on both cockpit views, a dotted line for the horizon and an occasional 3D vector graphics glance of your opponent.

What you get is a split screen showing two cockpit windows. The left window is yours and the right is used either by the computer's pilot - fairly unintelligent - or by a second human player using a dual joystick port. Read-outs show the position of the enemy, altitude, air speed and cannon temperature.

The result isn't exactly awe-inspiring. No doubt the programmers would argue that the lack of graphics speed is a result of animating windows. Sorry lads, that won't wash, not when we've seen the likes of Scalectric (also this SU) which uses a split-screen and full-colour graphics.

The gun sight in the middle of each cockpit window shows what type of weapons system is in operation. The cross hairs show that the machine gun - an ineffective weapon - is in operation. Side winder missiles are targeted through a large block cursor. Get you opponent in the sights for longer than three secs and a missile is launched.

Ocean's Side-winders are strange objects. I hadn't realised that air turbulence, even at 10,000 feet, could make a rocket wriggle like a worm. The Side-winders flex in the middle as they jerk towards a target. They're heat seeking so an explosion is guaranteed. Unfortunately, it's not much cop when it happens, just a Batman style prickly bubble which wobbles across the screen.

The score screen, at the back-end of the game, continues Top Gun's far from racey pace. It's marked like a WWII score 'downs' card with the number of lives remaining pictured in 'plane outlines and a similar display for the number of aircraft you've potted.

Top Gun is a difficult game to get into but, once you find that your jet's got missiles, there's no looking back. Just select the Side-winder sights, bring the enemy into range - a simple matter with the radar - fire, and keep the enemy in the sights for three seconds. Then destruction is assured.

It's difficult to classify Top Gun. It doesn't make it as a jet simulation. On the other hand it's not an arcade game either - there's not enough action.

In fact it's pretty dull all round.

Label: Ocean
Price: £7.95
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

***

Ocean fails to realise the potential of another potentially terrific plot. Dull graphics and very little depth.

3/5