Flight Control initially launched on March 6, 2009 and it was an instant hit. With over 700,000 sales in under two months, it only made sense to bring the game to the Apple iPad and the PlayStation 3. The question is… Does Flight Control HD offer us first class treatment, or does it crash and burn?
I’ll start off by saying this – I never even heard of Flight Control until two days ago when a friend messaged me on Twitter asking how he could get this game. After watching the gameplay video on the Firemint web site, I was immediately intrigued. After a brief email to the company – and a long day with Flight Control HD, we’re here to tell you about the experience.
I’ve always said that you should save the best for last so let’s get a piece of unfortunate news out of the way. Flight Control HD is not and will not be available on the North American PlayStation Store due to circumstances beyond the control of its developer, Firemint. That being said, there’s an iPad version that anyone can purchase.
The concept of the game is simple and you’re placed on one of nine maps including the PS3 Exclusive, Metropolis, which cycles through day and night. Maps are rated on a 1 to 5 star scale for difficulty, and 5-star maps are often large and everything is much smaller so you’ll really need to pay close attention to flights. Each map is littered with various runways and helipads, each being color-coded to match the aircraft which will fill your screen. You have to match and guide the planes and choppers to the matching colored landing areas and avoid any collisions. Planes vary in both size and speed so you have to pay attention that you give faster planes the right of way. You can enter runways from any angle which makes things simpler, but as time passes you’ll end up with a lot of aircraft building up quickly on-screen. You’ll need to weave around other aircraft and often make quick flight path changes to save yourself from crashing, but sometimes your number’s up and you don’t stand a chance.
Flight Control HD is one of the few PlayStation Move compatible titles, but you’re not limited to that control method and Firemint was kind enough to cater to those who are still using only the DS3 controller. I spent my first three hours using PlayStation Move with the game, and it controls like a dream. The initial calibration is done in mere seconds, and the cursor moves in a silky smooth fashion across the screen. The T button on the wand is used to select aircraft and you can drag them to their respective colored runways or helipads. If things are too slow at any point, you can tap O to give the game a little boost. If you near collision then it goes back to normal speed – unless you double-tapped O it locks in on speed mode. You can manually go back to the normal speed at any time you wish, so don’t worry about that too much.
When using a DS3 controller, you’ll notice it’s somewhat slower. It’s usable, but when you’ve got fifteen or more aircraft on screen at once, you may wish it was a little quicker to manoeuvre with the analogue stick. Unfortunately there does not seem to be any adjustments for sensitivity and movement speed, so you’ll have to manage. If you’re good – and if luck is on your side – the DS3 is a more than acceptable method for controlling the game. But, PlayStation Move is honestly the more adequate option to go with.
Flight Control HD is one of those very basic concept games that end up being so addictive due to the challenge of it. It’s easy to play, but tough to be the best of the best. The leaderboards don’t seem to allow more than one rank increase per game though, as I scored just enough kills to reach Captain but it only allowed me to move from 2nd Officer to 1st Officer – a minor annoyance when you have a great scoring game, but its forgiveable. A great thing to mention is the drop-in/drop-out mutiplayer where you can easily enter the game with another Move or DS3 controller and work co-operatively. If you’re incredibly ambidextrous you could even use two Move wands yourself! Either way, it’s an awesome feature and we loved the possibility to work together with a friend.
The visuals remind me of cartoonish war propaganda in a sense, and it’s a game that “looks” fun. Its bright image makes the game feel welcoming so anyone would feel intrigued to play when they see it. It features a PIXAR-esque background music track that’s quite good and I can’t help but think of the movie “UP” when I listen to it. However, when the track ends, the game goes silent aside from the basic sound effects and you’ll need to make a quick visit to the menu, and disable then enable music to get it back. It should be optional to constantly loop, and this may be a bug in the programming – we’re not sure!
There you have it folks! Flight Control HD is a wonderfully addictive title that’ll have you competing for top scores amongst yourself, your friends and the world. Keep in mind that it’s effectively a PS Move title, but not limited to those users. The score does reflect the game as a PS Move title primarily. Sometimes the simple games are the best and this title is a true standing example. If this is your type of game, you can spend endless hours trying to be as good as me (which isn’t very good yet!) so you better get started.
For more information about Flight Control HD, please visit Firemint.
Smooth and addictive gameplay, but all too often will a plane enter the screen and immediately crash into another on its way to land.
Simplistic bright colors and well-defined landing lights on runways - it's a beautiful yet casual looking title.
The background song is great, but it won't continue to loop. Sound effects are minimal but they fit the theme of the game well.