I blast off the sub-orbital carrier, straight into hyperspace, and emerge seconds later after breaking through the planet's atmosphere. Like Stansfield, in "The Professional," I relish these calm little moments before the storm, allowing the gravity to take me through the clouds, lazily free-falling The Paw (my ship) almost all the way to the ground. The sky is red, the sand is yellow, and I am about to rock this world.
Almost immediately, my screen lights up with straight purple lines intersecting exactly on my position from all angles. As the storm of enemy fire comes in, I am, of course, no longer there. Already, I am juking and swirling The Paw upwards through the incoming fire, until my first catch of the day arrives; a group of three air superiority fighters on my left, and the enemy hover-gunship on my right.
As they open up on me, I deftly swivel, turning at the apex of my ascent before re-orienting The Paw parallel to the ground. I've already calculated how this is going to go, slamming on my thrusters, sending me full throttle towards (and angled on a trajectory just above) the hovership. As I approach, I cut the rockets, and orient myself at a down angle, opening my chainguns (which will remain open from this point forward and throughout). They spit a deadly and inexhaustible firehose of heavily caliber rounds as I slingshot myself around the hover ship.
Turning and dropping in free-fall again, with all the opposition now to my left, nose turned up, blasting into the gunship's underbelly, I burst the thrusters just enough while parallel to the ground to carry me back around to the front; this gives the fighter group the time needed for them to get safely inside what I call "The Box." This is where they will all die.
Guns still spewing furious fireballs of death, I complete the circle, ending up roughly where I started, but at a lower altitude, my nose now pointed directly at the hopelessly clusterfucked group of fighters and gunship. They are hopelessly middled; I have lured them in range, grouped tightly together, except now, they are facing the wrong way, essentially tricking them into over-flying me. As more purple lines from enemy ground-fire open up on my position, I punch the jets in brief bursts, hurtling myself directly at them, guns screaming all the way.
The effects are devastating and immediate: I saw through the pack, killing two of the fighters before even needing to angle back around to repeat the process. For jobbers like these flunkies - whose only advantage over me lies in their sheer number, rather than in either speed, shields, or firepower - I can do this all day.
As I begin working on the underside of the gunship for the second time, an enemy wing swarms in on my six. Not a problem. I flip The Paw 30-plus something degrees around, nose pointed straight up at where the fighter group will be 2 seconds from now, and extend that window of opportunity further (from 2 to 4, then 6 seconds) with my reverse thrusters, sending me engines-first towards the ground.
Then I pounce, full throttle, spraying a variation of death-from-above (only this time, from below). I cut through them, killing several, then eliminating the remnants of the original fighters as I re-orient the craft to blast back DOWN like a dive-bomber on the gunship.
Hundreds of rounds have been fired both ways in these opening seconds, and I am just getting started.
The game is "Hyperspace Dogfights," and I have been slamming massive loads of it straight into my brain-holes this week. Bringing together both classic 1980's arcade sensibilities (tight controls, simple premise, impossibly challenging gameplay) with rogue-like design and construction, this addictive little shooter (and it's 200-plus powerups and augmentations) is as close to blast-em-up perfection as I've seen in a long while.