After Burner Climax – The PS3 Attitude Review
But is this more Goose than Maverick?
Boot up After Burner Climax and straight away your senses are given a battering by loud music and bright colours – and that’s just the menu screen. It’s at this point that you realise that the game has its tongue very firmly in its cheek.
Pick the main Arcade mode are you are presented with a fairly miserly list of three planes to choose – an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, F-15E Strike Eagle, and F-14D Super Tomcat. We couldn’t find any gameplay difference between the planes, but you can customise them with a limited range of paint schemes.
Within seconds of starting a game, everything descends into chaos. After Burner Climax is twitch gaming, plain and simple. If you have time to think about dodging that incoming missile, it has more than likely inserted itself into your plane.
You have guns for short range combat and missiles for long range. In all honesty the guns were about as useful as an inflatable dart board – so we stuck to the missiles. You are politely reminded during the first stage that ammo is unlimited, so go nuts – which we obligingly did.
You have a target cursor that automatically locks on to enemies, which is a god send when trying to shoot down the twenty or so enemy planes heading your way – although it can occasionally freak out and refuse to lock on to anything.
We did have one main frustration with the control scheme. In an ideal world the ‘barrel roll’ manoeuvre would be mapped to a face button – but unfortunately in After Burner Climax it is activated by moving in one direction, then sharply moving in the other. This causes problems when – for example – moving left to avoid a missile, then having to move right to avoid some more. The game will mistake the quick left/right shift as you wanting to perform a barrel roll – cue fifty missiles battering the hell out of you as your plane spins in mid air.
Occasionally you will be presented with a special in-mission task, such as shooting down a stealth bomber with your guns as missile locks won’t work. These are OK but sometimes get in the way of the games full on, fast paced nature.
After Burner Climax does have a trick up its sleeve though for when things get too tough. In the bottom left hand corner of the screen is a gauge. When this is filled you can hold down L1 and enter Climax mode, where time slows down allowing you to wreak havoc on your enemies – which is great for trying to break the 50+ combo mark.
Once you’re done with the Arcade mode you can head straight on to the Score Attack mode. This does exactly what it says on the tin – it is a high speed run through all missions to try and rack up the highest score, which you can post online. The appeal of this mode really depends on your state of mind. If you are someone who goes back again and again to try and get one place higher on the leaderboard, then this is for you.
To add longevity After Burner Climax adds in special options which unlock when you meet certain criteria – such as larger target cursor, or upgraded gun strength. For die hard fans these options really do change the feel of the game – for everyone else though it is something that will go unnoticed.
Visually the game ranges from bland to sublime. For every generic desert there is an ice covered landscape with the Northern Lights twinkling over head. The plane models are detailed enough, and there are some nice cloud effects going on – yes you heard us, we did say cloud effects!
The audio is most definitely a required taste – it is very…loud. Explosions sound suitable meaty but the constant ‘bank left’, ‘bank right’ warnings are just irritating.
So all this leads up to the big question – is the game worth getting? Well it is…and it isn’t. After Burner Climax is an enjoyable trip back in time but there is no escaping the fact you can see everything the game has to offer within forty minutes – so is it really worth £7.99/$10?
If you love twitch gaming, shooting stuff and utter old skool chaos then definitely check the game out – for everyone else it might be prudent to wait for the inevitable drop in price, because when that happens there will be no excuse not to pick it up.