Promotional art from Final Approach for the Halloween Cargo Drop including a tylized aircraft, orange lettering, a female pilot holding a jack-o-lantern (instead of a helmet), and green backlight.

Halloween Fun Comes to ‘Final Approach’

Gaming Videogames
Promotional art from Final Approach for the Halloween Cargo Drop including a tylized aircraft, orange lettering, a female pilot holding a jack-o-lantern (instead of a helmet), and green backlight.
Source Image: Phaser Lock Interactive

Final Approach remains one of my favorite games for demoing VR. Though I raved about the experience after PAX West 2015, I’ve never written up a full review. So let me break it down for you: Final Approach gives you a god’s-eye view of airports, where you guide aircraft to (hopefully safe) landings while dealing with other essential tasks: extinguishing fires, repairing planes, and moving cargo around the airport. It’s a signature experience on the HTC Vive, with very pleasing terrain and intuitive controls – reaching out and dragging flight paths for an aircraft just feels right.

If Final Approach has been lingering in your Steam library, or maybe you’ve been hesitating to pick it up, now is the time to give it another look. Phaser Lock has released a “cargo drop” (their aircraft-themed name for free DLC), bringing Halloween content to the game. At this point, seasonal content is a bit of a rarity in VR, and Phaser Lock has done an incredible job. The hangar and office are perfectly decorated with cobwebs, fog, jack ‘o lanterns, skulls, and other Halloween kitsch. It brought a huge smile to my face!

The virtual hands in 'Final Approach' hold a skull in Halloween themed content in the starting office.
“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest…”

In addition, Phaser Lock has added two Halloween-themed challenge missions set in Metro City. The first has you guiding two aircraft, orange and purple, through the city to pop orange and purple pumpkin balloons, respectively. This map is fairly challenging: it’s timed, you need to avoid collecting the wrong colored pumpkins, and an aircraft loss ends your attempt. Moreover, it is divided into stages, with progressively faster aircraft. I haven’t been able to hit three stars on it yet.

Close-up of a rooftop in Halloween themed 'Final Approach' Metro City, showing spooky trees and colored pumpkins.
The Metro City map has received a spooky makeover for Halloween, with fog, creepy trees, and mood lighting.

I’ve particularly enjoyed the second challenge. Here, you guide a helicopter to collect partygoers (using the versatile cargo hook) to bring them to a block party in the center of the city. This part isn’t too difficult, but you must simultaneously direct a second helicopter to capture ghosts that are converging on the party, snatching away your citizens. Ghosts can then be deposited in a designated confinement area. You can even save citizens, Defender-style, by capturing the ghosts as they attempt to escape.

On top of a building in Metro City, the player aims a proton-pack-like weapon at a group of ghosts; a red energy beam streams towards the spectral spooks.
The Metro City map is available in free play mode as well, where you’ll be challenged to remove ghosts from haunted helicopters. The water cannon has been re-skinned to look like something out of “Ghostbusters”. Brilliant! Image: Phaser Lock Interactive

While the Halloween challenges and free play level will still be playable after Halloween, if you achieve three stars on both of the challenge missions during October, you’ll  earn a trophy for your desk collection; the new Steam achievements can be earned all year long.

The Halloween content isn’t all this DLC is bringing – Phaser Lock has decided to unlock the first 7 missions after you complete the tutorial. I think this is a great idea; not only because I constantly reset the game for newcomers (accidentally), but also for anyone who has tried out the game and found the first two missions on the tame side. If you’re in that boat, give it another try and see what you think of the other maps. You may find out that you’ve passed over a real gem.

Flying jack-o-lanterns invade your office in Final Approach's Halloween Drop
Your office has been invaded! Turn to your right and check out the cupboard after you hit the intercom. Image: Phaser Lock Interactive

Oh, and though I’ve focused on Final Approach here, most of everything I’ve said also applies to Final Approach: Pilot Edition, which is the version of the game where you fly aircraft with a gamepad. While I generally prefer the original game, Phaser Lock released Pilot Edition for free to owners of the original game (and vice versa), so if flying from the first person is more your style, check it out for Halloween content as well.

Final Approach is available on Steam for $24.99 USD. See you in the friendly skies!

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