For all of the horrendous plane crashes of late that have been splashed across the headlines of papers and televised news, there's never been a greater need for Flight Control. From open skies to a flurry of aircraft, the game illustrates how a simple task can turn into a serious challenge.
Thankfully there's no real risk in failing to be an astute air traffic controller here, other than the one you take by not grabbing this high flier.
Flight Control really doesn’t deserve to be so addictive. The game screen is nothing more than three landing areas for the different aircraft that fly in from afar.
A red runway cuts across the centre of the screen, a smaller yellow one sits at an angle toward the right, and a helicopter landing pad rests at the top. These are your targets for bringing in the screen full of aircraft safely.
As the planes fly onto the screen, it’s your job as the air traffic controller to determine their flight path. Drawing a line with your finger from plane to relevant airstrip (red planes to the red landing strip, for example) is all it takes to guide them in. They blindly follow whatever curving, circling, winding route you assign to them.
The difficulty comes from a whole bunch of jumbo jets all trying to touch down safely, one at a time, without crashing into each other. It takes some creative, quick-fingered guidance to ensure each craft follows a safe path and arrives at the landing field when it’s clear.
Naturally, more and more planes come in to land as the game progresses. Also complicating matters are the different kinds of aircraft under your command. Helicopters, for example, fly very slowly and can really get in the way of the fast moving super jumbos.
The smaller red planes are still pretty quick, but can’t match the velocity of the larger craft. The difference in speed has to be factored in when planning how you intend to bring them all to the ground safely.
The sky can get pretty cluttered at times, which adds real drama to an otherwise a simple game. Though after a hundred or so goes - you’ll easily chalk up that number in the first few days - you're sure to notice patterns in the aircraft's approaches.
You’d expect the locations of the new planes to be randomised, though each type of aircraft comes from specific points around the edge of the screen. It doesn’t have any adverse effect on the enjoyment of Flight Control, but it would add an extra layer of challenge if you weren’t able to predict the incoming planes quite so easily.
The level of difficulty is also basic. The longer you play, the more planes fly onto the screen. It makes the first few minutes a little too easy and ultimately puts something of a cap on the gameplay time since there’s a finite amount of airspace.
Once you get above a score of 50 or 60 (one point per plane, by the way) things get so crowded there’s little even the most skillful air traffic controller can do to keep the runways working.
But as a quick, clean, cheap and clever casual game, Flight Control is pretty much without equal on the App Store due to its sheer, unabashed addictiveness. Hopefully Firemint will come up with one or two tweaks for future updates, to mix up the gameplay a little, but Flight Control is one of those essential games that you’ll continually return to and will remain on your iPhone forever.