Friday, April 23, 2010
XBLA Review -- After Burner Climax
Disclaimer: I might be slightly biased in favor of this game. I watched Top Gun RIGHT before I started playing it. Let it be known that there's no actual PROOF that I said "talk to me Goose" or "negative Ghost Rider the pattern is full" during any part of playing After Burner Climax...and you know I'd just deny it anyway if there was.
After Burner Climax is a console port of Sega's arcade on-rails jet fighter by the same name. You control a fighter jet, fly at disgustingly high speeds, dodge enemy fire, and shoot down hundreds of aircraft using lots of missiles and guns. Most of the stages take place with nothing around you but sky, and the rest have you swerving through canyons and enemy bases. The only assistance you have in your mission is (queue the jokes) "Climax Mode" where, once a specific meter fills, you slow down time and are able to lock onto your enemies with a MUCH larger targeting system, shooting infinite missiles during this short amount of time. In addition to saving your butt at some times, this also allows you to score ridiculously large amounts of points and help you make sure you get each enemy on the stage. (Hey, it's an arcade game, that's important when you load up the leaderboards.)
The visuals remind you with every breath that it's a quarter-munching fast-paced arcade game. Missiles and bullets flying by you every inch of the way, miles upon miles of landscape whizzing beneath, explosions o'plenty, and everything as flashy and colorful as possible. It's true that, because of this, there's not much to look at in terms of detail on what your plane will pass by, but even if there was could you pay attention to it without taking damage from the aforementioned weaponry? As far as the music, it's standard Sega arcade fare. And by that I mean it's awesome. I wasn't as big of a fan of the music made for the game as I was the option to pick music from After Burner II. Could be because I'm old, but we don't mention that. I could have done without the annoying commentary from my wingmen. Er, wingman and wingwoman. Wingpeeps? Yeah, my wingpeeps were annoying as hell. That's also classic Sega, to make either the announcer or your teammates to sound as cheesy as possible. This works pretty well in a pay-to-play arcade setting, though, and since it's an arcade port it's a little petty to complain.
For a flight game, the controls are pretty simple. Move around, shoot guns, shoot missiles, speed up, slow down, and activate Climax Mode. Customizable controls are there for anyone who doesn't like the layout presented. Everything's responsive, though doing barrel rolls felt a little TOO responsive to me. Making a hard turn after moving a little the opposite direction first will result in you spinning like a dervish whether you want to or not. It could also be that I need to quit cranking the analog stick to the edge every single time. I'll go with that.
As usual with most arcade games, replay is largely what you make of it. The game has no extra missions, and the only other mode is Score Attack, where you have infinite lives and are just there to get as high of a score for the leaderboards over the course of the short game. What the game does try to keep you playing, however, is "EX Mode". With this, you can customize the settings in Arcade Mode, with most customizations making the game easier. Each option, though, needs to be unlocked. The unlocks range from the nigh automatic "See "Game Over" 5 times" or "Fire 5,000 missiles" to the MUCH more difficult "Get 2,000,000 points in a single game". This, in addition to the achievements, gives players something to work for, and the extra options in EX Mode give novice players a way to see more of the game or work their way up to playing without the training wheels. I'm a little saddened at the lack of online multiplayer, though.
Ultimately, what you get out of this game is entirely up to you. Those who live and breathe the arcade experience will find a lot of fun with this game, myself included. I'm positive I'd waste much more than the ten dollar price tag this game has on its arcade counterpart if there was one nearby so I personally consider it worth the 800 MS Points. Those looking for something a little deeper as far as fighter jets go, however, should look elsewhere or at least try the demo. All in all, it's an arcade game, and a flawless port of one at that.
After Burner Climax from Sega is available on the XBox Live Marketplace for 800 MS Points. Played through Arcade mode and Score Attack, died a lot, and kicked myself in the butt for sending Top Gun back to Netflix before watching it at LEAST four more times. It's also worth noting that "Gonna hit the brakes, he'll fly right by" doesn't work in this game when being tailed. :(