I’m a big fan of aviation, so I definitely had to get my hands on Final Approach for the HTC Vive.
In this game players are placed above an airport or helipads where they must control all flights in the area by grabbing them with their hands and then drawing a path to where they need to land.
It’s very similar to those mobile games where the user draws on the screen which runway the planes must land on. But it’s only similar, because Final Approach takes airport management to a far grander level.
As expected, the airways above get cluttered with aircraft that forces the player to be fully aware of what’s going on around them. Players must land aircraft and taxi them to an appropriate location before another aircraft can land on that runway. And it’s not just safely landing the aircraft that’s a challenge, but having the aircraft taxi to their terminal or hangar can also be a challenge.
Too many times have I forgotten to taxi a plane to its hangar and had another plane come landing in behind it -- crashing into it. Of course, with being focused on all the chaos in the skies, I’ve had complete loss of concentration and had airplanes land on the same runway from opposite sides. Oh, and speaking of chaos, for some reason about 1/3 of the aircraft are on fire. But that’s the arcade style of this game and what adds to the challenge.
When planes are on fire, not only does the player have to safely land the aircraft, but they must also taxi it to the designated fire zone. Once the plane enters the zone the player will touch a flash that appears on the screen which then transports them onto the tarmac where they are in control of the fire hose and can start shooting water at the aircraft to put out the fire.
This is when you realize that Final Approach is much more than just navigating aircraft in the skies. Besides putting out fires, players are also in charge of separating airline baggage and tossing them into the correct carts and turning on power after replacing broken machinery on top of terminals. Players even have to use a blow horn to scare birds off of the runway. It’s fun being able to stand on the ground while doing these tasks, because it’s also fun to look up at all the air traffic above while doing them.
Being a fan of aviation, I find all these little activities a lot of fun to engage with. I’m far from the best air traffic controller, but I sure know how to put out a fire – if I remember to put out a fire, that is.
It’s very easy to become distracted in the game, especially when fighter jets start flying around. By the way, it’s a challenge as well to land a slower general aviation aircraft and then find the right timing to land a speedy fighter jet behind it. Thankfully, there are multiple runways. But as I was saying, once those fighters start soaring across the sky, that’s when I walk right up to them to get an up close and personal view.
I also intentionally clear the airspace as much as possible and set up multiple flybys for the fighter jets. And when it’s timed perfectly, players can send a plane that’s on fire to the designated zone and then set up the flyby to go directly overhead while the player has the ground view. I probably had too much fun setting this up. Check it out below!
Final Approach is a lot of fun for virtual reality outside of just watching the aircraft. There are a number of different maps for the user to stand above making it an interesting viewing experience every time out. It’s fun viewing a large airport from above, or one that’s on an island. It’s also neat to be in the middle of skyscrapers while navigating helicopters around the city.
I’m really enjoying my time with Final Approach, and I’m sure it helps to be an aviation fan, but it’s been a great VR experience so far when dealing with all the chaotic action both in the sky and on the tarmac. I still have a lot to discover as well and can’t wait to see all the different scenarios the game offers.