|System: X360 (XBLA), PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA, AM2||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 22, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
There are two main modes of play, Arcade and Score Attack. Both options run you through the same selection of stages, though dying in Score Attack will never present you with a "Game Over" screen. In order to rack up points in Score Attack, however, you'll need to achieve and maintain large combos. To offer some perspective, my high score for this mode is a little over 500, 000, whereas the current world record is roughly 1.9 million.
There is, of course, a leaderboard where you can view the overall world rankings, your personal ranking, and the ranking of folks on your friends list. To keep the playing field level, you can't use any of the EX unlocks in Score Attack, and everyone is presented with the same level of difficulty.
In terms of production values, After Burner Climax looks like the exact same game you might have seen in the arcades, which is to say, it looks great. The engine running the game might not be the most technically impressive on current-gen consoles, but when everything's running at top speed, the game looks fantastic, with a lightning-fast, super-clean framerate. Upon running into the side of a mountain, however, you'll get a close-up look at the texture work, which admittedly, can be a bit unsightly. Regardless, Climax offers some of the prettiest visuals we've seen in a $10 downloadable game. Each of the three jets has four color schemes to choose from, and the environments too are varied up nicely.
The audio work is equally impressive, offering a soundtrack that harkens back to F-Zero GX for the Gamecube. The music continuously blasts you with flurries of notes as you attempt to make your way through a sea of enemy fire. The sound effects are chunky and exciting, offering tons of glorious arcade flair. The two ground-control personnel who are constantly barking commands at you and exchanging banter can be annoying at times, but ultimately they serve the over-accelerated pace of the game well. You can, however, tinker with the settings in the options menu and turn off the chatter if you so choose.
After Burner Climax is, without a doubt, one of the most exciting new entries into the downloadable space. SEGA managed to preserve most of the intensity and all of the fun of the original game, and this latest iteration packs in a few extras that complete the package in a meaningful way. Whether you've got points to spare or are carefully weighing your options, After Burner Climax is an absolute must-buy.
CCC Freelance Writer