Downloadable Game Review – After Burner Climax
After Burner is… a game I never played originally. Yeah, even when I was a kid, arcades weren’t very big around here, and as a result I never got to play After Burner. But in more recent years I did end up playing quite a few games in the series, and loving it. Well, except for the NES version, but that’s a topic for another day.
After Burner Climax came out in the arcades in 2006. Since there’s no arcades around here (the ones we DO have are just those ticket game things), I never got to play it… until now. When I found out the game was coming to the PS3 and Xbox 360, I knew I had to play it, because videos of the arcade version looked so damn awesome.
So is the game as awesome as it looked in the videos of the arcade version? Read on and find out!
Date of Release: April 22th 2010 on Playstation 3, April 21st 2010 on Xbox 360 (PS3 version reviewed)
Platforms: Arcades, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Rail Shooter
Rated E10+ for Everyone over 10
The presentation is great. Really. The graphics are awesome. Yeah, technically, if you take your time to look at it, you’ll see that most of the things are made in a very simplistic way but… what the fuck are you doing taking your time to look at stuff? You have planes and turrets and missiles to blow up and avoid! The graphical quality here might not be perfect, but everything is so frantic and fast-paced you don’t have time to care about that. And, either way, the game looks really good. The planes look nice, the explosions are good, the environments look great… there’s really not much to complain about here. I’ll just note here that the PS3 version has no anti-aliasing (the 360 version does), and I’ll also say that it doesn’t affect the game whatsoever.
And the music is really good. I’m that guy that frequently says that modern video game music sucks, but in this case I’d be completely wrong. Not only is the music from the game really good and fits the mood perfectly, you even have access to the badass music from After Burner 2… What more could I ask for? And the audio cues for everything going on in the game. The game tells you when you lock-on enemies so you can shoot them out of the sky, 2 teamates are constantly telling you what’s going on, you can clearly hear the missiles coming at you… Nothing wrong on this aspect either.
The presentation is near perfect.
The basic gameplay is quite simple. You move around, you shoot your guns, you shoot missiles and you try to get as far as you can and kill as many enemies as you can. If you don’t touch anything your plane moves back to a “neutral” position.
As you move around, your crosshair moves as well. When your crosshair passes over an enemy, you lock-on to that enemy, and you can lock-on to as many enemies as you want. You shoot missiles one at a time at each of them with the Square button, so you should try shooting one or two missiles per enemy, depending on how many hits they take (which is shown by the lock-on symbol on them). The missiles are homing, so they’ll usually find their target. Missiles are limited, but they recharge automatically and rather fast, so you’ll rarely need to wait for them to recharge. You CAN try to shoot enemies with your gun (hold the X button to shoot it), but it’s not as effective, though a few enemies can only be hit with the gun.
Moving is also pretty important, as enemy attacks are coming from everywhere, and moving properly will keep you out of danger. And you have to avoid mountains, or walls if you’re in an enclosed area, so swift movement will get you out of tough situations. You can also accelerate and deccelerate to avoid certain enemies, and you can even DO A BARREL ROLL. Which is my only minor gripe with the game, you have no control over your plane while doing a barrel roll, and if you’re not careful with the controls you’ll find yourself doing them without actually wanting to, as they’re done by suddenly moving from one direction to another. It’s not a big problem, but it can be a bit annoying.
An new feature here is Climax Mode. The Climax meter fills up automatically, and it fills up a bit more when you destroy enemies. When it’s full, you can press or hold L1 or R1. This will slow down the action, enlarge your lock-on range and automatically shoot missiles at all locked-on enemies once you leave the climax mode. This is a very useful and fun feature. Nothing more satisfying than blowing up 15 enemies at once.
The arcade mode features 13 or 14 levels every time you finish it. Through the game, you have branching paths, which bring you to different levels, and you can choose between them. There are also 2 hidden levels that you need to perform really well in the previous level to get to, though when you get to those you can’t choose, you go there automatically. Some levels in the game have objectives, mostly blowing up certain target enemies. If all the objectives you get through the game are accomplished (within the same run, of course), you get access to a 14th and final level, which gives you the final ending.
The game takes about 15 minutes to complete (less as you become better), and has around 21 levels total. Replay value is the key here.
As you play through the arcade mode multiple times, you unlock what are called EX options. Those basically give you total customization of the game’s difficulty. You can get more credits, more lives, stronger or weaker guns, more or less missiles, a bigger lock-on area or none at all, more or less defense, and various other things. To get acces to all those options, you have to clear certain objectives by playing in the arcade mode. Finishing the game a number of times, reaching the secret levels, getting the best ending, destroying a certain number of enemies, getting game overs, and some other objectives. This lets you make the game as easy or as hard as you want it to be. This, I find, is a really fun feature. If you find the game too easy, power yourself down a bit, or, if it’s too hard, give yourself a few boosts. That’s insanely cool.
The only other mode is Score Attack. This is basically the same thing as arcade mode, except you have infinite lives. The EX options don’t work here either, so you can’t just “cheap” your way to the top. The goal here is just to get a high score. Get combos as high as you can, die as little as you can, and try to get a good spot in the rankings. When you get your score, you get your ranking on the online leaderboards, and you can try going as high as you want. This is definitely a fun feature and it’s pretty sure to get competitive.
This is a game about getting high scores, rather than a game that’s all about finishing it. The average run of the game will be 15 minutes or less, depending on how fast you go through it, how much you die, etc… And you’ll be playing it over and over and over and over and over and over and over… It’s not a game you play through once and stop playing afterwards, it’s a game you play hundreds of time trying to perfect your play and increasing your score. And with the inclusion of online leaderboards, you always have some challenge score-wise.
This is how games should be like. It looks good, sure, but it concentrates mostly on the gameplay, and it’s better for that. It’s easily one of the best downloadable games on any system in a long time. A must for any gamer with a PS3 or Xbox 360. The game is really fun, really fast-paced, challenging, and overall awesome.
- Great presentation
- Easy to pick up and play
- Has the retro After Burner music
- Great, frantic and addictive gameplay
- Difficulty can be fully adjusted… if you play the game enough
- Infinite replay value
- There are no cons… really… complaining about the length would be stupid, complaining about the graphics would be stupid, and the gameplay is so good there’s nothing worth complaining about… so there… no cons
The Save Factor
The game costs $10 on the PSN and the XBLA… And it would be worth it even if it was $20. So it’s definitely worth getting at full price.
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