After Burner Climax is the fourth game in the popular Shoot-’em-up After Burner franchise, owned by Sega. The game was developed by Sega-AM2 (published, of course, by Sega) and released to arcades in 2006. Climax was the first new title in the After Burner series since 1992, ending a fourteen year long wait by fans. Many fans didn’t have access to an After Burner Climax arcade cabinet, and as such were left unable to play the new title.
That is until now.
Fast forward to April 21, 2010, and owners of both the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 can now download a port of the arcade title for ten dollars.
After Burner Climax follows the formula of the original games. It’s an on rails shooter, meaning your forward movement is controlled for you and you fly in a straightforward path. All you need to concern yourself with is moving and shooting.
You can move the plane horizontally, vertically, and can also barrel roll in order to dodge enemy fire and environmental obstacles. You also have throttle control, meaning that you can control your speed. Anyone who has played Star Fox will be familiar with this formula.
In terms of shooting, you have a machine gun, which has infinite ammo and you also have a large store of missiles, which you can fire at after first locking onto an enemy.
The locking on process is very straightforward. You simply move your reticule over an enemy, and they are marked. Once you are locked on, you can launch a missile and enjoy the ensuing explosion. Missiles replenish over time, removing the docking for missiles (and refuelling). This serves to keep the action moving, which works well for a game of this nature. It’s a pure arcade title, and fortunately, it plays to this with no remorse.
It’s usually to an Coin-up arcade title’s detriment when the developers try to inject simulation aspects into it.
The one major addition to the formula, and from where the game derives its name, is the Climax mode. It’s basically bullet time, for anyone familiar with that concept. For those who are not, time for a set period, slows down, allowing you to easily target and destroy enemies. In addition your reticule greatly increases in size allowing even easier targeting.
You can enter Climax mode target everything on screen and upon returning to normal time, watch them all explode in a very impressive display.
The gameplay takes place over 20 odd stages, some of which are hidden only accessed by meeting certain conditions.
This brings us to the main complaint that could be levied against this game: it’s incredibly short. True to its arcade roots, After Burner Climax can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes.
However, like the arcade games of old, fans of the game do not just complete it once and move on. You play it over and over earning all of the accolades possible, including the special stages and being rated AAA in the three ratings categories that the game scores you on (enemies killed, longest combo, and completion speed). There is a seperate Score Attack mode, were you are granted infinite continues, were in Arcade mode you play more for completion.
For those who do not concern themselves too greatly with attaining a high score, After Burner Climax may still be for you. The developers have seen fit to allow gamers of all stripes the ability to play the arcade mode, which caters to many different playstyles. The arcade mode presents a fairly decent challenge, and may take several tries to beat with the allotted continues. If the player chooses to stick to the default of 3 Continues, with 3 Planes each.
If they do not, they can play around with a vast array of options, known as EX Options. These are unlocked throughout the game, and more are granted with successful playthroughs, giving players other than the high score hounds incentive to continue playing. These Options allow you to highly customize many different aspect of the gameplay to your own personal specifications, allowing the game to be easier, or much harder.
There are three planes to choose from, although the differences seem purely cosmetic. You can customize the paint scheme for each plane prior to take off, although these are preset.
The last thing you get to select prior to starting is the soundtrack. It’s a very rocky adrenaline-pumped soundtrack that suits well, makes you’re Head bobbing, and keeps you going. Alternatively, you can choose the Soundtrack from the original After Burner, for those who feel nostalgic about it.
Graphically, the game is gorgeous. Great looking environments are coupled with excellent particle effects. Seeing missiles leave trails across the sky to exploding planes into bits, all taking place over beautifully rendered oceans and landscapes, through canyons, and even indoors, is thrilling. And all of the action does not hinder the smooth, consistent framerate one bit. The game is an aural and visual treat.
After Burner Climax is a no brainer for fans of fast, frenetic arcade action. This is very much an arcade game, and it makes no apologies for that. If you are into arcade games, and you know that they are very short but very replayable, this game is for you. If you’re not sure, well, download the free trial and give it a shot. This game is meant to be played in bursts. Keep that in mind, and, if it works for you, you cannot go wrong with this game. It knows what it is and it is very good at being just that.
-Thanks for reading!-
Posted by blueskies on Aug 11, 2011Tags: After Burner, Afterburner, Climax, Digital Distribution, DLC, Download Content, PlayStation Network, PSN, review, SEGA, XBL, XBOX Live Arcade