Straight-up arcade style games are growing more plentiful on the HD consoles, despite the fact that they rarely achieve a level of fun comparable to the true ‘Arcade’ experience. Out soars Sega’s ‘After Burner Climax’, a flight-battle sim released for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. A throwback to classic arcade gaming in the form of a revival of one of Sega’s past fan-favorite coin-munching titles. How does it fly in this now growing market?
Like so many of Sega’s releases- the game is fast. Very fast. While this is typical of both arcade titles as well as Sega projects, it deserves special mention. If you’re the type that likes to plan a few moves ahead, take your time to consider gameplay choices- this game is not for you. Your fighter streaks across the sky with incredible speed and while it’s awesome to witness, it can be disorienting.
The original After Burner was 2D, but for the revival, Sega opted for a full 3D engine. Some fans will be disappointed that the game doesn’t offer more a classic feel, but the trade-off is a highly impressive graphical presentation. The visuals are top-notch for a download game- Sega clearly put some effort into the skies, ground, enemy vessels, and explosive effects. As you light up the sky with a flurry of bullets, your eyes will be treated. Then again, you could argue that Sega spent too much of their budget on the graphics, because…
Gameplay-wise, After Burner Climax is a bit shallow. It might not be too big of a deal considering it’s a PSN & XBLA release, but it does hurt the experience. The game is pretty short, coming to a stop at about fifteen levels. Those not entertained solely by flight sims will also likely find it repetitive. Even so, as you either beat ‘Arcade Mode’ or ‘Score Attack Mode’, you’ll find that the game never really stumbles or slows down- for the most part. Fighting for the trophies or achievements does add some replay value, but other than that- don’t expect to return to AB:C too often.
When compared to the original, you’ll probably find that Sega did a great job recapturing the essence of the arcade predecessor. Get ready to face down dozens of enemies, dodge heavy fire, and unload enough missiles to bring down the moon itself.
‘Climax Mode’, a slow-motion technique within the game is really the only innovation besides the graphics. Slowing things down and locking on can be a fairly intriguing experience and certainly gives you a nice little advantage at times, especially for newcomers. The controls are pretty tight, though the game engine can be a little loose with your fighter- like the overall game speed, this can disorient the player.
All things considered, Climax is a pretty impressive experience. The only real drawback are the short length and few game modes. Despite that, it’s worth it for fans of the previous title. For that matter, $10 is a pretty good price for the package.