The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
I’m strictly a games journalist. I've never had any aspirations of getting into the development side of things, but inspiration can always strike without warning. Such an event happened yesterday when Joe Juba asked me a question about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. I horribly misheard his question, and thought he said something about “Air Force Gator.”Most people would have just asked Joe to repeat himself, but not me. You see, I’m an idiot and found myself entranced by this vision of Air Force Gator. I immediately forgot what Joe was actually asking me about and asked him to help me brainstorm a video game based on what I heard.
It's a little Metal Gear Solid, a little Ace Combat, and a lot of alligator. Here’s the pitch.
Air Force Gator’s grandfather was a World War II hero, taking down 72 Axis aircraft in the Allied invasion of Sicily. Not only was he renowned for his dogfighting ability, he was also a mechanical genius who built his own aircraft from the ground up. Not satisfied with the available Allied aircraft during the war, he unveiled his masterpiece in 1943. The Gator Plane (pictured above) featured unheard-of technology for its day, and was instrumental in the Allied war effort.
Upon returning to U.S. soil, Air Force Gator’s grandfather was rewarded with the Distinguished Flying Cross medal. President Harry S. Truman personally presented him with the medal during a massive celebration to mark his return to the country. Having achieved all he ever wanted in his career, Air Force Gator’s grandfather retreated to his ranch in Montana, where he lived with his wife and family until his death in 1976.
Pictured above: Air Force Gator’s grandfather on his Montana ranch with his children, including Air Force Gator’s father (left, held)
Decades later, Air Force Gator’s father gave birth to Air Force Gator. Growing up, Air Force Gator would always hear stories of his war hero grandfather’s daring adventures. Throughout his teenage years, Air Force Gator attempted to escape his destiny of becoming a pilot, and frequently got in trouble with the law.
Air Force Gator during one of his many teenage arrests, this time for loitering and drug paraphernalia
Air Force Gator's family enrolled him in military school, where after years of fights and discipline, he learned to straighten out and change his ways. For his final two years in school, he earned a 4.0 GPA and graduated as valedictorian. Within months, he had accepted his destiny and signed up for Air Force Academy.
Note: It's important to know that this game is Air Force Gator, not Gator Air Force. The latter would imply an entire wing of the U.S. Army that was dedicated to alligators, which is just ridiculous. There is only one Air Force Gator.
Air Force Gator was loved by students and faculty during his first years in the Academy
Socially, Air Force Gator was in a better place than ever during his first few years at Air Force Academy. The faculty respected him for his work ethic and his grandfather's legacy, and fellow students always knew they could go to him when they needed a shoulder to cry on. Air Force Gator's best friend was Razorwing, and they spent as much time chasing tail and drinking together as they did in the skies.
Razorwing and Air Force Gator also loved playing in the Air Force volleyball games (note: these will be playable minigames), but an incident during a match greatly concerned them. They witnessed an argument between their friend Heather and her boyfriend, Vince Chetfield. Vince was the leader of the Air Force's prestigious Alpha Squad, but he was equally known for his rage-filled outbursts. In an inconsolable fury, Vince spiked a volleyball into Heather's face, breaking her nose.
Air Force Gator and Razorwing (left) watch as Vince injures Heather
Knowing Heather would face further abuse if she went home with Vince, Air Force Gator invited her back to his place for the night. He iced her nose and talked to her long into the night. There won't be any God of War-esque sex scenes here, however. Players can discuss amongst themselves what they think happened that night, but Air Force Gator's constant winking later on and references to having a "good night" may be a hint as to what occurred.
The next chapter opens with Air Force Gator and Heather together as a confirmed couple, with an angry Vince left behind. Just when life is better than it's ever been for Air Force Gator, Razorwing tragically dies in an air show crash.
Air Force Gator mourns at Razorwing's grave
Devastated, Air Force Gator falls into a depression but vows to fight on in Razorwing's honor. At this point in the game, the player is assuming full control of Air Force Gator as he runs reconnaissance missions in the Middle East, continues with combat training, and performs in air shows. These air show missions will serve as training for advanced dogfighting maneuvers, and the skills learned will be crucial in later missions.
Air Force Gator gradually rises through the ranks as you complete more and more missions, but Vince still sits at the top of Alpha Squad and consistently blocks your entry. Hitting a glass ceiling in Bravo Squad, Air Force Gator becomes extremely bitter towards his rival Vince. While you continue completing missions as the disgruntled Air Force Gator, Alpha Squad slowly becomes more and more brainwashed by the increasingly unstable Vince.
During one pivotal cutscene, Air Force Gator overhears Vince and Alpha Team discussing a plan to leave the military and go rogue. Air Force Gator wastes no time in telling his superiors, but no one believes him and he's thrown out of the military because of his claims. At this midpoint in the game, Air Force Gator is in an extremely dark spot due to Vince's upcoming mutiny and Razorwing's death. His drinking gets out of control, and his relationship with Heather starts to disintegrate.
Air Force Gator and Heather hit a rough patch after he's discharged from the military
Having taken enough of Air Force Gator's drunken rampages and conspiracy-laden rants about Vince and Alpha Squad, she finally leaves him. What was once a dark spot for Air Force Gator has turned into a crippling depression and downward spiral into alcoholism.
The game picks up again several years later. Vince and Alpha Team have abandoned the military, and are operating a terrorist organization off the coast of New Orleans. The U.S. military has tried their best to reason with Alpha Team and stop their maniacal plot to put the country at war with Russia, but they aren't getting anywhere. Their efforts to locate Air Force Gator are also futile, as he's "off the grid" and secluded himself in his family's abandoned Montana ranch ever since he was discharged.
Air Force Gator is haggard and out of shape, and it looks like he's aged decades. During one drunken night, he goes into his attic to rummage through old photos and reminisce over a life that was once full of promise and happiness. As he fumbles through boxes, he notices an especially dusty old crate that he didn't realize was there. He opens it up to find countless journals and pictures of his war hero grandfather. At the bottom of the box is a sealed envelope with the label "To my family" written in cursive.
This letter reveals that Air Force Gator's grandfather was never fully retired...he spent the decades after the war continuing to work on the Gator Plane. He added weapons, strengthened the steel with space-age scale armor, and programmed intricate targeting systems. Knowing that a member of his family might need it at some point, Air Force Gator's grandfather included a map that leads to the Gator Plane's secret desert hangar.
Air Force Gator had long since resigned his quest to stop Vince and Alpha Team, but the letter reinvigorates him. He sobers up and heads out to the desert with map in hand.
A newly sober Air Force Gator arrives at his grandfather's secret desert hangar
After a lengthy gameplay segment that plays similar to Kratos' trek through the desert in the original God of War, he arrives at the hangar. As promised, the doors open to reveal the improved Gator Plane. Even though it hadn't been worked on since his grandfather's death in 1976, the plane's technology is head and shoulders above any modern-day military craft.
All of the controls players learned with the military planes carry over to this new experience, but the Gator Plane has some added abilities. The right trigger activates the chomp ability, which can destroy any nearby plane with one bite. Homing gator missiles are preferred for long-range foes. Gameplay leading to the final mission consists of flying from the desert to the New Orleans base, taking down any Alpha Team minions you encounter along the way. Once you finally reach the offshore base, it's time to take down Vince and the original mutinous members of Alpha Team.
The final mission against Alpha Squad
All of the skills you've learned so far will be called upon in this final challenge. Your enemies will be well-trained, and intelligent enough to know that alligators get confused by quick perpendicular motions. While this pesky evasive strategy may hinder your use of gator missiles, they're still vulnerable to the chomp attack.
After the rest of Alpha Team is done for, it's time to take out Vince. You'll need to dogfight him until his jet's armor is at 0%, at which point the game shifts into a cutscene. During this dramatic scene, Air Force Gator and Vince speed at each other in a high-altitude version of "chicken." At the last second, both pilots eject, leaving their planes to crash into each other in a fiery explosion.
Air Force Gator and Vince parachute into the bayou
In the game's thrilling final confrontation, Vince has to face Air Force Gator in his natural environment...the bayou. The villain's leg breaks after falling from a tree his parachute got caught on, and he lays in the swamp pleading for Air Force Gator to spare his life. You assume control of the protagonist and crawl towards the hysterical Vince. When you get close enough, a quicktime event pops up in which you finally end the life of your arch rival.
Air Force Gator kills the bad guys, saves the world, and may or may not get Heather back at the end.
This story needs to be told. Start the petitions! Tell the developers! As gamers, let the world know that you must play Air Force Gator!
Email the author Dan Ryckert, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.