Thousands of viewers have enjoyed Top Gun: Maverick since the film’s release in May 2022. Sadly, few of those viewers will ever get to experience the thrill of pulling G’s in an F/A-18 Super Hornet, let alone hit Mach 10 in the fictional Darkstar hypersonic aircraft depicted in the film. However, there is one way to not only get behind the controls of your favorite planes from Top Gun: Maverick, but take them up in a dogfight, too…at least virtually.
In a collaboration with Paramount Pictures, Bandai Namco’s Ace Combat 7 aerial combat video game released the TOP GUN: Maverick Aircraft Set on May 26, 2022 for $19.99. The downloadable content bundle is based on the film and features the F-14A Tomcat, F/A-18E Super Hornet, and the Darkstar. It also includes alternate Top Gun: Maverick variants of the F-14A, F/A-18E, and the Su-57 which is labeled the 5th Gen Fighter after its film name.
Of note, the blue livery of Maverick’s F/A-18E also depicts his three kills earned during the climax of the 1986 film. However, the Darkstar is missing the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works mascot that appears on the aircraft’s tail in the film. While the in-game Darkstar is difficult to control at high speed, as Maverick experienced in the film, it is not capable of Mach 10 in Ace Combat. This is likely due to the limitations of the map sizes. However, it can exceed Mach 5 and, with in-game tuning parts, can reach speeds of 3,500 knots. The Ace Combat Darkstar is also equipped with weapons, including pulse lasers, for the sake of gameplay and to reflect its futuristic design.
In addition to the aircraft, the Top Gun DLC includes additional emblems and nicknames based on squadrons and characters from the film like Maverick’s VF-1 and Hangman. Finally, purchasers of the DLC get access to a rearrangement of “Top Gun Anthem” by Ace Combat composer Keiki Kobayashi and an instrumental version of “Danger Zone” for the Team Deathmatch and Battle Royal game modes.
Although the Top Gun DLC aircraft cannot be flown with the game’s Virtual Reality mode, the renders of the cockpits brings gamers into the world of Top Gun: Maverick with great detail. Short of becoming a naval aviator or Skunk Works test pilot, this may be the closest you can get to the danger zone.