Dark Void takes off for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC this Friday, and while the game isn't as excellent as we hoped it would be, its brilliant jetpack got us thinking: Just what are the best ways to fly in video games? What are the best methods of airborne transportation? What virtual vehicles kick arse in virtual skies? After cracking our heads together we've come up with the Top 10 Ways to Fly in Video Games. What iconic ways to fly will make the list? Sit back, make a note of the nearest exit, and read on to find out.
10. Jetpack - Dark Void
Who says third-person shooters should be ground-based? Not Capcom. Dark Void might not be a brilliant game, but its jetpack is superb, letting you leap into the sky and take flight, or just hover from platform to platform, picking off enemies while in mid-air. Jetpacks are fun. Simple as. Dark Void is from Airtight Games, the studio formed from key members of the development team responsible for excellent Xbox flight combat game Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge, so it's no surprise that aerial combat is handled so well here.
9. Carpet - Magic Carpet
Who needs space ships and fighter jets when you've got magic on your side? This PC (later ported to consoles) action game saw you take to the skies on board a flying carpet, attacking monsters and rival wizards as you soared high above the mountains. It was a shame that most people never got to play the game in its full glory, such were the demands the cutting-edge game placed on PC hardware. It even supported 3D glasses and virtual reality headsets. As a Peter Molyneux creation, maybe we'll get to see the carpet return in a future Fable game.
8. Star Wars: X-Wing
Now, we know the X-Wing didn't make its first appearance in a video game (no prizes for guessing where it came from), but Star Wars: X-Wing, released way back in 1993, was so awesome that we have to put our foot down. The game's 3D space dogfighting was eye bleeding, seat of your pants stuff, and the adrenaline rush you felt as you ducked and dived and weaved in between TIE Fighter formations was the stuff of Star Wars fans' wet dreams. If you need more proof of the X-Wing's credentials, then check out this post from YouTube user lorekinfai: "I love this game before I knew Star Wars. I was so crazy that the first day I learn driving my car, I was imagining I was driving X-wing in the training ground while humming the mission music tune." Beat that, Lucas.
7. Arwing - Star Fox
Perhaps we're wearing our rose tinted spectacles again, but there was just something special about flying around in the Arwing in Star Fox on the SNES. No doubt the fact that we were playing a 3D game on a console that wasn't designed for such graphical feats helped, but the Arwing went on to be a main focus of many Star Fox games over the following decade. If we're being honest, the series has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent years, but we're hopeful Nintendo will bring Fox McCloud and his Arwing back with a bang at some point in the near future.
6. Custom aircraft - Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts
Why settle for one mode of transport when you can build whatever you like? In Rare's Xbox 360 puzzle platformer you can build whatever takes your fancy, whether it's a plane, helicopter or weird rocket ship. If you want you can even make them look like random objects and then share them with your friends. All the modes of flight in this list are great, but there's something extra special about having to create your own, sometimes from scratch. It's unlikely your creations will all go to plan, but with the right amount of creative juice the end results can be truly brilliant.
5. Highwind - Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII's airship The Highwind was great for so many reasons. One, it allowed you to get around the huge world map at the speed of light (not entirely true). Two, ship captain Cid's cool Limit Break brought down the Highwind for a barrage of missile attacks. Three, battles with the rock hard world map enemy, Ultimate Weapon, took place on the deck. And four, it had a picture of a lovely-looking red head painted on it. The Highwind wasn't glamorous or luxurious or particularly elegant. But it got the job done for Cloud, Tifa and co.
4. Your mount - World of Warcraft
As World of Warcraft players know all to well, getting around the huge fantasy world of Azeroth can take AGES. Our scientists' most recent calculations suggest it would, in fact, take longer to walk from one side of Azeroth to the other than it would to climb a ladder from your PC to the moon (our scientists have crafted such a ladder and climbed up to the moon, so don't question us). This frustrating time sink is what makes the moment you get your first mount so sweet. Azeroth feels like a much smaller place when you're riding your super fast horse, ram, saber cat or mechanostrider (yes, we know there are more) as you mindlessly turn in fetch quests to robotic non-player characters. Then, when you get your first flying mount... well, you feel like Superman. Up, up and away!
3. Dodo - GTA3
The GTA series has given us some great flying vehicles to play around with, but none have been as rewarding to fly as the Dodo in GTA3. This plane with drastically sawn off wings is a nightmare to fly, making extended air-time rather exciting; it's as if developer Rockstar wanted to punish everyone. Later games in the series saw the Dodo reappear, but with more traditional, longer wings. This made the plane easier to fly, but it definitely lost some of its appeal. Gamers want to be challenged, and the Dodo in GTA3 does just that.
2. Raccoon suit - Super Mario Bros. 3
Right, we're not one hundred per cent sure why a raccoon suit enables Mario to fly, but we do know that it's awesome. This was the first time Mario was able to take to the skies and the new suit pretty much defined Super Mario Bros. 3. By running and building up speed, Mario could jump and remain airborne. We just can't work it out. A raccoon tail and ears shouldn't equal flight. Explain yourself Nintendo. Don't believe it's true? See the raccoon suit for yourself and discover why SMB3 is considered to be up there with the best in the Mario series by downloading the game from the Wii's Virtual Console service.
1. Banshee - Halo
Who didn't love taking these purple alien craft out for a spin? At first you see them flying high in the sky, leaving behind vapour trails and firing down on your position. In the original Xbox game it was incredible to be able to fire up at them and then watch as the burnt-out wreck plummeted to the ground, narrowly missing your head. Then you get to fly one, pulling off loop-the-loops and mowing down those dastardly Covenant soldiers. There's a reason the Banshee has became one of the most recognisable vehicles in video games: they're awesome.