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After Burner Climax – PS3 Review

I don’t know why it’s taken SEGA so long to figure this out but the Playstation Network and X-Box Live Arcade are the perfect ways for SEGA to continue its’ arcade dominance. Arcade games are such a perfect fit for the digital distribution services that it’s mad to think why SEGA haven’t started taking more advantage of the services. Luckily Outrun Online Arcade showed us all how well this could be done and now After Burner Climax has turned up for its‘ share of well-deserved attention.

After Burner Climax was originally released in arcades back in 2006. It’s the first official After Burner game since After Burner III on the Mega CD (which really shouldn’t count seeing as it’s a rehash of Strike Fighter with a different name) and it gives the series a proper reboot.

Everything you know and love about the series is here; over-the-top, missile-spewing action, branching paths, canyon runs where the goal is to destroy as many turrets and radio masts as possible, ridiculous speed and plenty of barrel-rolls.

Despite the sheer amount of mayhem going at any one time, controlling the action is pretty simple; use the stick for steering, square to fire missiles, X to fire the vulcan cannon (which can also be set to auto-fire), and the left and right triggers for controlling the aircraft’s speed. The new feature to Climax is the Climax button (mapped to R1) which allows you to take out of wave of enemies in one hit, but only once the Climax gauge is full. This is filled by simply taking out as many enemies as possible. Everything is incredibly simple to pull off and steering feels wonderfully natural. Throwing the aircraft out to one side and pulling in tight will cause the craft to barrel-roll which also becomes an advanced manoeuvre for avoiding enemy fire.

As you can see, the set-up screams ‘SCORE ATTACK!’ at you and this is where After Burner Climax comes into its’ own. Avid score chasers will explore all routes and replay the game multiple times to get the highest scores possible. The better you play, the more rewards you will receive.

Now things get really interesting. Climax’s rewards come in the form of ‘EX Options’. These are essentially adjustable cheats which range from anything to the amount of credits you can use and the amount of armour you have to controlling the visibility of the smoke from missiles and whether or not you want your aircraft to move at maximum speed all the time or not. Instead of making the game easier (which they do to a certain degree), these EX Options allow score-hunters the opportunities to go really big and truly get the most out of the game.

Presentation-wise, you will not see a more bright and vibrant game on the Playstation Network. The game captures SEGA’s aesthetic perfectly with its’ vivid colours, incredibly level of detail and who could forget those gorgeous, blue skies? We also forgot to mention that everything (apart from cut scenes) run at a smooth 60 frames per second giving those wonderful graphics even more emphasis.

The sound department also does a lot to impress. Explosions, collisions, commands and boosts are all very ‘weighty’ and satisfying to hear. Your fellow pilots and commander also speak in that gloriously campy tone which has been used to countless other SEGA games like House of the Dead, Confidential Mission, SEGA Bass Fishing and Ghost Squad. We cannot fault the vibe of this title; it’s pure SEGA.

The only downside to the audio is the newly arranged soundtrack which is forgettable, 80s-style hard rock that does nothing for the experience except to desperately make the game feel more ‘extreme’ and ‘hardcore’. Luckily, the developers have seen fit to allow players to change the soundtrack to After Burner II’s original chip tunes. You rock SEGA.

Our only major complaint with After Burner Climax is the game’s length. Yes, we realise this is an arcade game but it would have been nice if SEGA had seen fit to lengthen the game’s shelf-life by adding some more gameplay modes or stages.

Never-the-less, what you’re getting is some solid, old-school, SEGA action with a beautiful new front-end and some cool new features. It doesn’t cost and arm and a leg to experience and we are incredibly grateful to SEGA for bringing this fantastic reboot to home consoles. Lets hope we see more of this soon.

How about SEGA Racing Classic, eh guys?


Written by Sonic Yoda on 23/06/2010

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