Few iPhone games have the ability to hold on to my attention any longer than a minute – I’d like to think I’m an extremely discerning power user, and Firemint’s Flight Control is certainly one such game. The concept’s deceptively simple – you’re the flight controller on duty for this watch, and your goal is to land as many jumbo jets, propeller planes and helicopters on the corresponding landing strips and helipads as possible.
Sounds simple, until you realize that (1) these planes/helicopters move at different speeds, (2) approach from all over and (3) as you get past approximately 40 successful landings, the number of aerial objects increase like crazy! As quickly as the round began, you’ll soon have your fingers full trying to steer the planes away from each other instead of landing them and freeing up your airspace. Before you know it, a crash has happened, and the round ends.
My current record stands at 75 successful landings, and a maximum of 14 concurrent aerial objects. Optimization games tend to make my mind go into overdrive mode. This game takes that ‘kick’ to the next level, as my eyes desperately attempt to track the multitude of on-screen objects while steering them to safety as I figure out that next best holding pattern or approach vector. The difficulty level also ramps very fairly, and does a good job in luring you to try again.
As I repeat my games in my quest to best my personal record, I’ve found the following useful or important to note:
- Big Jumbo Jets fly quite a bit faster than the Small Jumbo Jets – when you trace the approach vector, compensate accordingly with a longer and/or curvier and shorter and/or more straight line depending on who’s in front of the queue;
- Try not to criss-cross paths of aerial objects from different types too much. I tend to keep the airspace immediately above the red airstrip clear to allow for ‘aerial exchanges/transits’, so as to allow Jumbo Jets to avoid smashing into the snail-like helicopters and propellor planes.
- Don’t panic if you hear the crash warning. I’ve noticed that the system seems to sound the alarm rather conservatively.
- Don’t send aerial objects along the edges of the screens, as that’s where new objects are generated.
- Make the jets do sharp curves in their approach vectors, especially for the red and yellow strips. This would allow you to have more ‘lanes’ to send different streams of jets to land. However, be sure to give your Jumbo Jets more side clearance in visualizing those ‘landing lanes’.
As I typed this review out, I tried playing a concurrent round of Flight Control with abysmal results – only a paltry 35 landings! This is certainly a game where you can’t afford to lift your eyes off the screen for even a brief moment~
To make this game really stellar, the developers could consider (1) additional landing strip configurations, or a scoring/experience system which enables me to (2) assign a time-limited command to select aerial objects to ‘auto-pilot’, (3) upgrade the landing strips to accept bi-directional landing (on either ends), or even (4) making it REALLY crazy for players by introducing stray birds that moves really slowly. These features could add an additional layer of complexity and fun, while balancing game progression and player achievement.