Flight Control

Flight Control

What we liked:

+ Simple, polished
+ Addictive doesn't begin to describe

What we didn't like:

- Now, nothing.

DEVELOPER: Firemint   |   PUBLISHER: Firemint   |   RELEASE: 03/13/2009
Updates make you perfect by design.

Ah, Flight Control, now with even greater addictive power than crack itself. Recent updates to the best app you will ever buy brought not one, but two whole additional levels to the game followed by a multi-player component. Two more levels (at no cost to those of us that already made the purchase) address my primary complaint about the original version: that there just wasn’t enough of it.

The new airfields add more than diversity, they bring a degree of scalability. The beach side airfield features two helicopter landing pads and a water strip landing area for seaplanes. A relaxed resort atmosphere and plenty of room to maneuver makes it the easiest of the three. On the other end of the brutality spectrum is the aircraft carrier which, no lie, I once landed just 2 planes on before failing. The military aircraft come in quickly, in droves, and with the landing pad densely concentrated at the very center it can be a wonderful nightmare. Interestingly, the aircraft carrier also rotates a smidgen each time you tackle the level. I don’t think it is in my head that this adds a challenging gameplay variable. The carrier is oblong, and when perpendicular on the screen makes for very limited space above and below the landing strips.

Multi-player is peer-to-peer cooperative, and with Bluetooth enabled you and a friend can tackle an airfield together. One of you is given responsibility for the red aircraft while the other player must land the yellow and blue. In order for the other player to land their assigned craft, however, you must direct them to the right and off of your own screen. At first it seems like an easy way out until you realize you still have to navigate around a slow chugging helicopter as it traverses the entire screen, or that poorly timing all of the aircraft to exit at about the same time floods your partners screen.

Also added to the game is a fast forward function. Located in the lower left of the screen a quick tap speeds up gameplay or slows it back down to normal. A great feature for maximizing time on a level. The Cloudcell features also got an upgrade and you can follow other players, tag your profile and check the online scores via the Arrivals Board.

New levels, multi-player and additional features bring so much depth to an already fantastic title that it warrants a re-evaluation. You, dear Flight Control, are a perfect 10.

Original Review

Flight Control is a ninety-nine cent app with such beautifully Spartan gameplay you can’t help but marvel at the self-restraint. There is one level and there is one control – no upgrades, extra lives, bonuses or power-ups. The menu options are credits, tutorial, stats and play, and you will not really need the tutorial, the stats are local, and once you start playing you will not stop – call your loved ones now.

FireMint casts you as air traffic control at a 2D airport, less the funny arm movements. The level is an aerial view of a quilted background and three landing locations. There is a blue helicopter pad, a long red runway and a shorter yellow runway. The four different aircraft are distinct in size, speed, design and are color coded according to their required destination with the smaller biplanes in yellow and two larger aircraft red.

The game’s single objective is to direct the craft to a safe landing by touching and dragging them to the correct runway, and your score is based on the number of successfully landed aircraft. This will begin simply enough, and as the aircraft multiply you realize just how clever the game is. Flight Control relies on simple visual cues, like a pulsing exclamation point around the periphery of the screen to indicate where the next plane will appear. Once two planes collide it is game over, no lives, so perhaps the most critical cue is that glowing red ring around planes in danger of pileup accompanied by a nice – urgent – beep.

It is so simple, and it works so well. Creating flight paths is very fast, once created however, you have to make sure they remain safe, and it is a fortunate there is no penalty for silly or roundabout flight routes because you will be redirecting like mad. As you steer more and more planes to safety, still more will appear multiplying the madness and transforming what begins as an exercise in method into pure frenzy. Maddening to be sure, but the runways have a forgiving landing area so you never find yourself frustrated trying to create a fussy flight path.

When you begin the game you can choose between in-game audio (a single, simple, melodic tune) or your own iTunes library. The menu sports a mid-century flight attendant gal, and within the game successful landings are rewarded with keen affirmations like “Smashing!” and “Good show!”. Should you achieve a new high score the menu treats you with an ice cream float – dee-lish!

Flight Control is the Minesweeper of games. Initiating a game is quick, and “just one more” is never enough – but even Minesweeper offers different levels, and Flight Control looks so good and plays so well I wish there were more airports or challenges. For the price, however, you more than get your money’s worth. An excellent and addictive time killer you will have trouble putting down your phone. In fact, as I write this I’m frustrated I’m not playing…

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