|System: PC, PS3, Xbox 360*|
|Dev: Headstrong Games|
|Pub: 505 Games|
|Release: March 13, 2012|
|Players: 1 (2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Language, Violence|
This is the kind of move that a big-name publisher can get away with, especially on a high-profile game. Also, I sympathize with the fact that multiplayer support costs money, and I know that used game sales don't produce any revenue for publishers. But when I tried to access multiplayer games on Wednesday and Thursday nights (following the Tuesday release), I couldn't find a single game. The bottom line is that to provide paying customers with online opponents, this game needs all the players it can get, and instead the suits are discouraging people from playing online.
Quite frankly, whether you buy a new copy or pay $10 for the multiplayer add-on, I can't make any kind of assurance that you'll be able to play online with regularity, unless you talk your friends into buying the game too. This calls into question the $40 price tag. Therefore, my recommendation is to treat this as a single-player game only, and either rent it or wait until the price comes down to buy it. If it's multiplayer dogfighting you want, I hear that the $10 Snoopy: Flying Ace XBLA title still has some players, not to mention that it includes a local mode. (Also, it's adorable.)
That said, here's a quick rundown of the multiplayer modes on offer. Deathmatch and team deathmatch are it for competitive dogfighting, unfortunately, but the cooperative options are a lot more impressive. They include "carrier strike," "base defense," and "aircraft escort."
The multiplayer frustration might leave a bad taste in your mouth, but it shouldn't detract from the fact that the campaign in Top Gun: Hard Lock is a heck of a lot of fun. Renting this game is a sure way to spruce up a rainy weekend, and once the price comes down, a purchase won't be a terrible idea—especially if the game manages to attract more multiplayer action and the modes run well. Is it perfect? No, but it's weirdly lovable—just like the quarter-century-old film it draws its inspiration from.
Date: March 16, 2012