Flight Control HD

Pushing Pixels

Now Arriving: Flight Control HD
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: September 25, 2010
By now, those with iPhones or iPads probably know all about Flight Control. The $0.99 app has been a fixture on the top of the best sellers lists for the better part of two years, and developer Firemint has done a great job of regularly updating it with new content. For those of you still rocking your Motorola flip phones, Flight Control is a simple yet highly addictive little game where you act as an air traffic controller, safely guiding an ever increasing number of planes to safe landings on a top-down static screen with multiple runways. Controls are the very definition of simple, as you merely tap a plane and drag a line to a designated landing strip. If two planes happen to collide in the air, it is game over. Just like in real life, there are no second chances if you screw up as a controller (well, until you press the retry button, that is). The catch is that planes (and helicopters) come in different colors, and each color has its own landing strip and they just flat out won't land if they aren't sent to the right runway. Flight Control personifies the quick "pick up and play" style that is the hallmark of the best apps, and now Firemint has seen fit to port it to the PlayStation, adding in support for Sony's latest baby, the Move.


First, the good news. Flight Control HD looks and plays really great on the PlayStation 3. Replacing the touchscreen with Move implementation works really, really well. Allowing up to four players to control the skies at the same time adds a whole new dimension to the game. Don't have four Move wands? Don't fret, because Flight Control HD will also allow you to use DualShock controllers in their place. While using a standard controller it isn't nearly as elegant of a control scheme, it is certainly serviceable. The bad news? Due to inscrutable licensing issues, Flight Control is only available in Europe, so Americans who want to get their John Cusack on will either have move across the pond or find a friendly Euro with a share account. Having spent some serious time playing with our Editor-in-Chief's roommate and fellow editor Paji, I can assure you that the extra effort is worth it. Many friendships will be forged when everyone works together to keep the skies safe, only to become lost like a black box in Mariana's Trench when one person fails to stop the cargo plane from intersecting with a helicopter. Teamwork is essential, lest two people pull a plane in different directions causing it to go nowhere as the third person shouts for them to guide it away from an oncoming plane full of medical supplies.

Firemint knew a lot of us had played their pocket-sized version of the game incessantly, so they made sure they added some new delicious items to the menu to keep us craving more. Planes now come in 4 different colors, and helicopters in two more, effectively doubling the chaos on many of the existing levels. They then proceeded to toss in an extra PSN-only level (Japan) that features a day/night cycle ushering in a whole new challenge as you try and pick out the hue of the blinking lights on wing tips as night descends on the city. A trophy set adds some new challenges to test your mettle (try keeping 30 planes in the air at once!), and the simple graphics really do pop in HD. Hell, it even has 3D support! My god! Just like the original, some levels have special condition to make sure you are on your toes at all times. Planes delivering urgent medical supplies will come onscreen with their landing route locked in, forcing you to work around their flight path. Shifting winds might cause half the runways to close on some levels, necessitating the need to reroute on a moments notice. Congratulatory messages (appropriate to the region of the airport) pop up every time you pull off a successful landing (although "SMASHING" would appear to be a bit dubious considering the subject). For such simple game design, Flight Control HD finds ways to keep playing fresh. Think you've got it mastered? Try locking the game in fast-forward mode, where all the planes move twice as fast, not even slowing down when the proximity alarms go off.

Sure, the game isn't a deep simulation by any stretch, and most of us have already landed thousands of planes on the toilet by now, yet I can't help but recommend Flight Control HD to anyone out there who has Move controllers (especially multiple ones) and has the ability to get their hands on this download. There still isn't a lot out there to show off the glowing balls of wonder that are Move controllers, but for whatever the hell 5 Euros translates to, this works out to a great deal of fun for the price. I'm not one to recommend drinking and air traffic controlling in real life, but bring together three mates and plenty of pints, and you have yourself a fun little drinking game! Stop reading now and go land some planes, damn it!
The Verdict
9.5

Flight Control HD moves from the small screen to the big screen flawlessly, and remains as addictive as ever. Not only that, it provides another great medium for the launch of the new Move controller.

9.0Graphics:

It has graphics. 1080p graphics even. In 3D!

6.0Sound:

Yes, the game does have sounds as well!

9.5Control:

The Move is an ideal control scheme. You feel like you are conducting planes in the sky as you wave your wand. Although DualShock implementation is nice to include, it isn't the ideal way to play.

9.0Gameplay:

Distilling gameplay down to its simplest form works great when you do it with style and class, and that's just what Firemint did here.