After Burner Climax Review
Xbox 360 | PS3
After Burner Climax box art
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
The Pinnacle of Arcade Shooters
by Tony Capri

If you've frequented arcades within the past five years, chances are you've stumbled upon the greatness that is After Burner Climax. It's a high-octane experience aided by a full-body, moving cabinet that attempts to simulate high-speed flight and air combat. SEGA has now repackaged the product for the PlayStation Network and Xbox LIVE Arcade, and we're pleased to report that the title has made a smooth landing onto home consoles.

After Burner Climax screenshot

Don't expect too much of a story attached to Climax. You'll get your flight orders within the first 10 seconds of the game and then get thrust right into some truly intense, shooting action. It's fast-paced and challenging, and with the exception of the monstrous arcade cabinet, After Burner Climax makes the transition to consoles completely intact. Some excellent extras have been added as well that make the game all the more enjoyable played from the comfort of your couch.

After Burner Climax is an on-rails flight shooter similar to Star Fox 64. The game is set up as one long mission comprised of 13 stages, plus two bonus end stages, as well as multiple paths and hidden areas. It's a short experience - make no mistake - but there's a whole lot of replay value here to enjoy. Unlocking the extras is smartly handled, rewarding you when you do well and throwing you a bone when the going gets tough. Within about three hours' time, I managed to get 100 percent of the game's trophies, but when it was all over, I was simply left wanting to play more After Burner Climax. It's a thrilling ride, in spite of lacking the moving cockpit of the arcade version.

For this review, the game was played on the PS3, and there are three preset control set-ups to choose from. With the standard settings, you control your aircraft with the left analog stick, gunfire is mapped to the X button, the square button fires missiles, and you can brake and accelerate with the left and right triggers, respectively. Controls felt a bit awkward at first, but after just a few minutes of play, I eased right into the experience and was having a blast.

After Burner Climax screenshot

With the default controls, you'll need to pull down on the left stick to gain altitude and push up to descend; it's standard fare, really. From the outset, gameplay can feel somewhat out of control, with everything moving and happening so fast. However, this isn't a true flight simulator, and control is tight and responsive. Moving in one direction and quickly turning toward the opposite direction will send you into a barrel roll, and it's something that will happen organically during play. You'll constantly be contending with barrages of missiles, yet the controls are designed to handle the frantic action wonderfully.

Climax is definitely one of those "white-knuckle" games, as you'll be working the triggers at all times in order to avoid enemy fire. Enemy aircraft aren't your only obstacles either. You'll occasionally find yourself navigating tight spaces through desert valleys and secret enemy bases. Some of the latter stages can be downright brutal, which makes perfect sense when you consider the game was designed to rob players of massive amounts of quarters in the least amount of time possible.

After Burner Climax screenshot

Of course, the game is called After Burner Climax for a reason. At the bottom left of the screen is located the Climax meter. When the meter fills up, you can press (and hold) the right shoulder button to slow down time, and this will give you a better opportunity to lock onto main targets and such. It's a fun mechanic that isn't overused.

For this home version, SEGA has added EX Options, which are unlocks that can make the game much easier or more difficult, depending on your preference. Many of the EX Options are actually unlocked when you do poorly, giving you the ability to add more lives or additional continues to Arcade mode. When you initially start out, your lock-on reticule for firing missiles is about the size of a dime, but early on, you'll unlock an EX that can enlarge the reticule to about the size of a small apple. Automatic gun and missile fire, extra damage and armor - there are lots of cool, little extras that will not only ensure every player will have the opportunity to get at everything the game has to offer, but the more challenging options will give more hardcore players a chance to really test and hone their skills.

Screenshots / Images
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