Review: Final Approach
There are a lot of titles out there that take Flight Control as their inspiration. Guiding aircraft down to a safe landing seems to be a rather popular past-time on a mobile device. Many of them go for the Flight Control approach and hope that nobody notices, or they can get away with it as long as possible. Flying Development Studios have taken the other approach, added a twist to the game, and released it for the world to judge. You know what? It's not that bad.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
Sure, it's not perfect, but at least the developers (the same team behind Infinite Flight) have added their own twist to the Flight Control / Line Drawing genre. It restricts your options as a controller, and asks you to do more planning and be a little more organised as you play.
The idea behind this control method is that, just like in real life, aircraft cannot be directed randomly, given twisty courses, and spun around in the sky. They must be directed towards specific points in the sky, into the 'circuit' around the airfield, and then in to land at their requested runway (signified by the colour of the aircraft as it arrives from the edge of the screen).
Perhaps the only thing missing is the ability to put an aircraft into a circular 'holding' pattern some distance away from the runway. This is the real life technique used by Air Traffic controllers to cope with every arriving aircraft... but perhaps this would make Final Approach a touch too easy.
Final Approach does have the ability to start off relatively easy and lull you into a false sense of security, but the complexity builds up quickly, and you'll need to be judging, speed, distance, and the wingspan of the aircraft to avoid the single collision that will end the game.
There are two types of way-point in the game - the regular blue ones can be thought of as outer markers, and you can use these to shepherd the aircraft around the fringes of the screen by tapping the aircraft and then tapping the way-points you want them to fly to. Navigate them to a single red way-point though, and the pilots will realise they are on the main circuit to the airfield and they will set up the rest of the approach and landing automatically. You can still change their direction if needed to another way-point, but if you can build up a steady stream of aircraft round this inner circuit then you'll be doing well.
The only other control is a speed control, which allows you to speed up the passage of time if things are set in motion and you want to advance to the later, more difficult, aircraft, as quickly as possible. Unlike Flight Control, the faster speed does not switch off when there is an imminent collision, even though there is an audible warning tone.
Final Approach has a few issues that demote this title from a 'must have' to a 'worth checking out first'. The main one is the graphics. The aircraft just look too spindly, have a large wingspan, and I think the title would be best served if they were a little smaller on screen. This is very noticeable on the levels which use satellite photography of major airports to represent levels (LA International, Oakland, and Atlanta). These make the graphics feel gigantic, and it spoils the consistent look that could be achieved throughout the game with a bit more care and attention.
Secondly, Final Approach is missing something that takes a game from being a really neat idea to something that keeps calling you back. Technically it all works, artistically there are a few mis-steps, the sounds are clear and help you play the game... but it doesn't call out to me to keep playing.
Check out the trial, because there is love in the room for this title.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at