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After Burner Climax Review

Written by Sam Lawrence | Monday, 03 May 2010 21:03

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After Burner, that name should mean something to the old school gamer reading this, is the latest game to have a HD upgrade. The first After Burner game was released all they way back in 1987 in arcades and was also ported to virtually every system around at the time. The series has been dormant since After Burner III’s release in 1992 on the Sega Mega CD. This was until 2006 when Sega released a new arcade game, After Burner: Climax. It has taken until now for it to be released on XBLA and PSN, a time span great enough they were able to make a PSP game in 2007.

In terms of game play the game has more in common with an old school shoot ‘em up like Battlefield 1942, the pilot is provided a view behind the plane, more so than something like Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. and this has a direct impact on the pace of the game. Don’t get confused, this is not a flight simulator by any means. You have control of the plane in only the X and Y axis’s (up and down and left and right for those playing at home) while being able to control the speed of the plane. This is generally a good thing; it makes the learning curve much more manageable and fun, unlike most flight games, and it keeps the retro aspect of the game intact.

The first thing you notice about the game is how nice the game looks and how fast the game is. For a game from 2006 it looks better than a lot of arcade games now. Sure a lot of the post processing effects that we have come to expect aren’t there, but the vibrant backdrops and frantic action make sure that if you are looking for the minor visual impurities you will not last long with this game. Speaking of frantic, the frame rate of the game is essential when a game moves as quickly as this. Luckily the frame rate is as solid as the game itself even when the screen is packed with enemies.

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It is unlikely you will beat the game on your first go, even though the game is relatively short. If you are complaining about the length too much you are missing the point. The game is designed to be replayed a lot, not just for the relatively easy achievements. The game can be “beaten” in fewer than 10 minuets easily, but at the speed the game runs at it is not surprising.

Death is something that will happen a lot in this game, you need to remember that this was an Arcade game designed to eat up money like the old Mega Man games, whilst it is not as difficult as those games, it is not a walk in the park. You need to be careful when you are going into a barrel roll, that you are not forcing yourself into a corner as the environment will hurt you very quickly.

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Luckily there are the EX options in the game that are unlocked when doing specific actions in the game. These can be extremely helpful if you just want to have a lot of fun, or are trying to learn to play the game better. These options can range from having the gun auto fire so you don’t need to constantly hold the A/X button down, all the way to giving more credits and planes so you can die more often. The EX options were a great idea to make a traditional coin sucking arcade game enjoyable on the XBLA/PSN with out having to spend a mammoth amount of hours playing the game to get good at it. Though some purists will say that it makes the game easier,I argue that it makes the game more fun.

After Burner: Climax is a brilliant game which would make a great addition to your digital catalogue. A few problems such as length and difficulty level slightly sour the experience. Even taking these into account the game has a solid frame rate, the visuals are great and the game is just a whole lot of fun. If you haven’t yet go give the demo a few runs and I'm sure you will be hooked.

4-stars