Top Gun: Hornet's Nest

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a game by Zipper Interactive
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 5.8/10, based on 3 reviews
User Rating: 7.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Flying Games, Top Gun Games, 2021 Movies
Top Gun: Hornet's Nest
Top Gun: Hornet's Nest
Top Gun: Hornet's Nest
Top Gun: Hornet's Nest

Embracing the role of a pure aerial combat simulator, Top Gun: Hornet’s Nest is a game that bites a little more than it can chew. In a platform famous for its top-notch simulator games, Hornet’s Nest might be too little too late for the Top Gun game franchise. Developed by Zipper Interactive, the game is a pseudo-sequel to 1996’s Top Gun: Fire At Will, a game that took its action in a more arcadey direction.

Considering that Hornet’s Nest is more of a simulator than a shoot ‘em up, does the game deliver a realistic experience, or is this simulator dead in the water? Let’s find out.

Technical Know-how

When it comes to simulator games, what most fans are looking for is an experience that feels as authentic as possible. Luckily for such players, PC has always been known for its wide variety of simulation titles. Sure, Microsoft Flight Simulator might offer players the chance to pilot aircraft, but there’s no combat in that game.

By all means, Top Guns: Hornet’s Nest should have been a massive success: it fills the void of a realistic combat flight simulator that adds some of the movie’s classic flair. Instead, Hornet’s Nest is an odd combination of clunky mechanics and unruly physics that can be hardly considered a simulation.

Simply put, Hornet’s Nest has an identity crisis: its gameplay is too simplistic for veterans and too complicated for beginners. In the end, the game ends up pleasing none of its possible fans, even if some elements of its gameplay (like the weapons and their feel) are finely tuned.

A Rich Campaign Mode

One of the strengths of Hornet’s Nest is its robust campaign modes. The game features not just one, but three campaign modes, with 10 different missions each. Each campaign must be played in order, as more missions unlock upon completion of the previous ones.

The story here is what we’re used to seeing in the Top Gun franchise: a team of ace pilots must fight global terrorism, traveling across the world and fighting hundreds of enemy aircraft.

This is an area where Hornet’s Nest excels over games like Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator: the missions can get undeniably wild. From stopping terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons to traversing complex mazes, you never know what to expect from the game.

There are even missions that have puzzles in them. This variety keeps things fresh, helping an otherwise unremarkable game feel better than the sum of its parts. Additionally, the game also features an Instant Action mode, where players can get into a round of combat without a storyline. This mode is even better than the campaign and reminds us of games like Star Wars: Battlefront, where these skirmishes were better than the campaign itself.

Looking Good

Another area where Top Gun: Hornet’s nest beats its competition is in visual fidelity. Unlike Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator, Hornet’s Nest features some nicely detailed environments, even at ground level.

The terrain engine has also been severely improved over Top Gun: Fire At Will. The aircraft models look more polished than before, and the overall look of the game is a step up from the previous game.


Some janky mechanics and difficulty quirks aside, Top Gun: Hornet’s Nest is a nice simulator that will appeal to those who’re looking for a story-based approach to the genre. As long as you are willing to put up with some of the game’s unwieldy controls, you’ll be able to get some enjoyment from this diamond in the rough.


  • Nicely detailed environments
  • Serviceable voice acting
  • Excellent mission variety


  • Unresponsive controls
  • Uneven difficulty
  • Cluttered UI

Download Top Gun: Hornet's Nest


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

If you're prone to worrying about nothing, you may be more than a little surprised to discover that MicroProse are about to release a flight sim that, on the face of it, will be competing against their own hotly anticipated Falcon 4.0 for space on the nation's hard drives. Then again, you might not, preferring to dwell on why dropped toast always lands butter-side down. At the risk of the more sensitive of you not being able to sleep at night, we put the question to Top Gun 2's developers and demanded an explanation.

"Our goal in developing Top Gun: Hornet's Nest is to provide the player with incredibly intense action and realism, while offering a user-friendly design," says Zipper Interactive's Jim Bosler. "We want players to jump right into the heat of battle from the start, and immediately be able to start taking out the enemy. Even if you've never played a flight sim before, you won't have to wade through 200 pages of a manual and struggle with an unforgiving flight model to have yourself some fun in this flight sim." Top Gun 2 is, in fact, a very different game from Falcon 4.0. Whereas the latter has been designed to appeal to heavyweight flight sim addicts - the kind of people who actually enjoy reading 500-page manuals and own a set of rudder pedals and a throttle controller - the sequel to Top Gun: Fire At Will, like its predecessor, promises to appeal to those people who want the same quality in terms of graphics and realism, but don't want to have to learn how to fly an F/A-18.

A quick gander at some pre-release code confirms that Mr Bosler is not prone to bullshitting hapless, know-it-all hacks. Top Gun 2 appears to be both easy on the eye and not terribly difficult to fly. In fact, after just a few minutes the kill count is an impressive four to two, with both Allied casualties being self-inflicted. A developing storyline stretching over 30 missions, eight-way multi-player support, numerous 'sexy' cut-scenes and pre-mission briefings from the movie's Commander Hondo (remember him?) might just be enough to tempt those previously shy of flight sims to give it a whirl.

Huge manuals put many people off buying Falcon 4.0 and F-22: TAW. This, presumably, is where Top Gun 2 comes in. The thing is, just about every recent jet fighter flight sim features numerous toggleable flying aids to make the game accessible to the first-time flyer, while at the same time holding plenty of appeal for the seasoned ace.

The trouble with Top Gun: Hornet's Nest is it's a bit too simplistic. It takes about five minutes to learn to fly the F/A-18 in Top Gun, and just a few days to work your way through the three campaigns. The fact that it's linear means that there's little in the way of replay value, and you can't exactly go back and play the missions again with the flying aids turned off because there really aren't any to speak of.

If you still don't think you can handle Falcon 4.0, and want an extremely simple flight sim instead, then you you probably won't be majorly disappointed with Hornet's Nest. But take heed: there are better-looking and just as accessible flight sims out there already. We advise you to check these out before parting with your hard-earned cash for this one.

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