Game Reviews


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In the western world, fighter pilots epitomise just one thing: Top Gun.

In an age that offers a celluloid reference point for everything from running a barbershop to working as a mall security officer, the filmic consensus, ill-informed though it may be, is that being a fighter pilot is all about cocky remarks, synth-led power ballads and simmering homoerotic tension.

F.A.S.T., which stands for Fleet Air Superiority Training, leaves these entertaining dramatisations of the profession on the cutting room floor. Though it achieves genuinely exhilarating aeronautics, F.A.S.T. could probably benefit from some hammy acting, a rollicking 'Go USA!' rock and roll theme tune, and some cheesy pictures of a pilot looking moody in a pair of aviator shades.

But already we're being too harsh. The slightly austere front-end presentation does little to diminish F.A.S.T.'s stunning in-game graphics, exciting dogfights and full complement of aircraft, modes, and features.

The controls are handled via responsive, smooth accelerometer input, with onscreen buttons taking care of firing missiles, accelerating, braking and changing the viewing angle.

The layout is uncluttered and the transparent, line-drawn buttons cede almost all of the screen's real estate to the jaw-dropping action.

Seldom has an iPhone game looked quite so impressive. There's lens flare, 3D clouds, a convincing feeling of scale and speed, oceans that reflect sunlight, explosions, vapour trails that linger in the air, and detailed, real-life aircraft models.

The locations are varied, too, ranging from windswept tundra plains to verdant, volcanic island seascapes. The combined effect is a bar setter on the platform.

The single player mode, Exercises, is mostly a training pen for the multiplayer Competitions. To this end, dogfights are the order of the day and the mission structure doesn't really vary much beyond locating the targets and blasting them out of the sky.

Repetitive though it sounds, choosing the right aircraft to pit against your foes and mastering the weapons - which include radar guided missiles, heat seeking missiles and 20mm cannon - is a consistently satisfying challenge.

Each craft handles very differently, and outmaneuvering the opposition takes tactics patience and practice. This is what keeps the challenge alive, with each freshly unlocked aircraft redefining your place in the skies. Even so, it's hard not to wish for some air to ground combat single player missions to arrive via an update at some point.

The multiplayer modes are in many ways the main event. There are 1v1 and 2v2 wi-fi dogfight options and you can even create you're own room to hold private online matches between you and your friends. For face-to-face matches, there's Bluetooth support.

A global online rankings board and Facebook Connect integration round off an already comprehensive set of online options, placing F.A.S.T. among the friendliest online games out there.

The tone might be a little too serious and the single player campaign could do with a tiny drop more variation, but F.A.S.T. is so gorgeous, so much fun to play and so packed with brilliant online modes that it can't be mistaken for anything other than the best of the best in its genre.


F.A.S.T. looks great and plays like a dream, whether you're flying solo or with a wing man. Dog fights have arrived on the iPhone