Can I be Goose?
After Burner Climax is an arcade game that was released inÂ 2006 and marks the fourth entry into Sega’s After Burner franchise. The original game was released way back in 1987 and seemed to tap into the hype of the movie Top Gun, which was released the year before. All of a sudden, kids could go to their local arcade and give themselves silly nicknames, whilst flying fighter planes at incredibly high speeds. The original After Burner was an immersive experience as, like its sibling Out Run, it had a moving cabinet to further improve the feel of the game.
Anyway, now it is 2010 and After Burner Climax has finally made its way onto the PS3, through PSN Store. After such a wait, does it still hold the magic? Or has it aged badly and should be refused a license to fly?
The player chooses a plane and then flies along a predetermined path, attempting to take out as many of the enemy planes that they come across as possible. Upon reaching the end of the level, the player moves onto the next. At a couple of points the player is presented with a choice to take either the left or right path, in a similar fashion to the Out Run game. This continues with the player moving through various different landscapes and encountering different enemies, including land units and a couple of boss style battles, until the end of the game is reached. This ending seems to come along very quickly, as the game only has 12 levels. But it is not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
In case you had not realised, this is no simulator. Acceleration choices consist of fast and faster. The player is equipped with unlimited guns and quickly replenishing missiles. They have to simply to lock onto an enemy plane by moving the targeting reticule over it, and hit the fire button. The missile will then happily make its way through the air and destroy that plane. In the main mode, the player must complete the game within a set number of lives.
New to Climax is the cunningly named Climax Mode. This allows the player to enter a type of bullet time state and move the reticule around to target as many planes as possible before launching a volley of missiles.
As you may have worked out, this game is about as deep as a training pool for ants, and as short as the trunks worn by them. It is not so much about getting to the end, as that is fairly simple, but about the score achieved during the journey. There is something fundamentally compelling about a game that revolves almost entirely around point scoring.
Just like the recent updated version of Out Run, After Burner Climax takes advantage of the modern machines graphical capabilities to create stunning backdrops to the levels through which you will be flying. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Climax has out done the classic Sega racing game for both looks and a sense of speed. Although originally controlled with a flight stick, Climax works really well with the standard controller. For those in possession of one, various flight sticks are supported, for that authentic experience.
The bad news is that, although After Burner Climax is a lot of fun, the lack of depth and length does eventually catch up with it. After a few play throughs, there really is very little to convince the player to come back for more.
After Burner Climax is a simple pleasure. It will raise your adrenaline levels and keep you on the edge of your seat. Don’t expect to be challenged in any meaningful way and, like the cool holiday shirt, expect the novelty to wear off rather quickly. To begin with, at least, it is all about the simple fun of speed and shooting in a beautiful setting. After Burner Climax is short lived in both length and longevity, but in the early days you can expect to come away feeling refreshed, and possibly with the urge to watch Top Gun.