SGN–known mostly for its social MMOs and free sports games to this point–pulled a tight 180 and hit the afterburners for F.A.S.T., an action-packed, technically accomplished dogfighting game that matches wanna-be fighter jocks up for Internet duels.
With a state-of-the-art presentation, tight controls, and great online play, F.A.S.T. is simply one of the best action games around right now.
He’s got tone! Watch out!
F.A.S.T. drops you in the cockpit of one of 10 different fighter jets, equipped with radar, missiles, cannon, afterburners, and defensive countermeasures. You’re up against one or several rival aircraft, controlled by the computer or by another iPhone gamer across the Internet (or the room, if you’re playing over Bluetooth). It’s real simple: you better kill them before they kill you!
The main tools of the trade are missiles, which lock on and deal death with a hit or two. But getting to that point isn’t easy–you have to keep the enemy in your sights long enough for your targeting computer to nail them down.
At that point, you “get tone” and fire off your missiles, two at a time. There are long-range and short-range rockets; the first can take baddies out at distance, but requires a sustained radar lock, while the second has limited range but is more of a fire-and-forget option. The need to switch adeptly between the two adds a lot of depth to combat.
Of course, the enemy is trying to do exactly the same thing to you, so you’ll be playing offense and defense at the same time. Successfully evading attacks while positioning yourself to strike takes real skill.
It’s a matter of melding all the controls at your disposal–throttle, rudder, afterburner, and tilt steering–into seamless maneuvers to outwit your opponent. The controls require some practice, but they fit together naturally, so it’s never frustrating.
The one questionable control is shaking the phone for defensive flares to protect against missiles. Moving the screen around violently isn’t something you want to be doing in the middle of a supersonic death duel.
No no, the carrier’s over there!
Nevertheless, this game really delivers the sense of being at the controls of an advanced warfighting machine. The heads-up display looks authentic, and it gives you the info you need without being confusing. The sound effects are excellent, from the lock-on tone to the afterburner’s sonic boom.
And the graphics hold their own against the App Store’s best. The game renders everything from cloud cover and contrails to the mountainous terrain below with silky smoothness. You get your choice from multiple camera angles, and there’s even a “missile cam” that lets you follow your payload all the way to the bogey.
The game comes with 30 single-player exercises to work through. This is how you unlock new planes, all of which have different attributes (our favorite is the stealth fighter, which has enormous targeting range).
You can also jump right into online play. The system matches you up automatically with players of your skill level, and you can also make your own private games. There was no latency at all when we tested it over a WiFi connection, just pure competition.
There’s no lobby or chat system to speak of, though, which is a bit disappointing. Trash-talking your victims is half the fun of multiplayer.
We’re hugely impressed with F.A.S.T. Not only did SGN seem to think of everything for this game–they actually pulled it off, too! Gamers looking for fierce, skilled action are going to have a field day with this one. It’s a steal at $3.99.