Trackmania Turbo PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tell you what: how about you put out your own damn fire? We’re air traffic control, not the fire department. Or so we thought. So frequently are our skies clogged with passenger jumbos, military jets and light aircraft with engines aflame that we spend as much time in Final Approach’s first level on the ground, aiming a hose at a propeller, as we do up in the sky.
Which is a crushing shame, because that’s where Final Approach, as the name implies, is at its best. The pre-release demo was one of the highlights of our early days with Vive (see E292). The core mechanic, of using the controller to point at a plane or helicopter and draw its landing path in a 3D space, is still delightful, but in the transition from demo to full game Phaser Lock Interactive has decided that a little variety is needed. So it flings in a few distractions, adds some needlessly onerous fail states, and just keeps on going and going.
As well as putting out fires, you’ll find yourself zooming down to ground level to scare birds off the runway with an air horn, turning on generators, even aiming gun turrets at wayward drones. Ignore them and accidents will happen, depleting your Karma bar. If it’s empty, you’ll have to restart – something to be avoided at all costs given levels are so overlong. So down you go, leaving your post, perhaps failing to notice a fighter on a collision course with a passenger jet, or a helicopter running out of fuel. All of this distracts you from the core objective of keeping the skies clear – which you need to do to progress. Your current task might be to help a set number of helicopters land, refuel and take off again, but they won’t even appear in the sky unless you clear out the current holding pattern to make room for them. Every fire extinguished or drone shot down is time that would be better spent on the task at hand. Missions, as a result, seem to last forever.
And before long, they’re frustrating for different reasons. An airport terminal is enough of a headache with its criss-crossing runways, and the need to get passenger, military and private aircraft to different terminals. But Phaser Lock has decided this isn’t complex enough, adding a fleet of AI-controlled trucks that potter around the place on set routes with scant regard for their own safety. They plough straight into planes that are crossing their path, chipping away at your Karma, though by this point you won’t really care – you’ll be looking for something else to play. A late detour into an alien invasion shows the extent to which Phaser Lock has struggled to turn a convincing demo into a compelling game. The result is a dismally paced and hugely frustrating expansion of a fine core mechanic, and a badly missed opportunity.
The green arrow signals an aircraft in need – this one will need to land, taxi to the service hangar, then park up at the terminal to refuel. You’ll need to land just about everything, however, for a three-star mission rating