This should have been longer
After Burner Climax is Arcade game ported for Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) and Playstation Network (PSN).
For a downloable arcade game the graphics look really good. I haven't played the original Arcade version of this game so can not compare the graphics between these games. Selection of aircraft's (yours and enemy's) look detailed and recognisable. Not that I could spot a real F-15 eh. Surroundings are really well detailed as well. Only problem here is that tempo if the game so fast that you don't have time fully appreciate the different scenery. Each missile have own smoke and trace effect which look really cool. Occasionally with multiple enemies, missiles, smoke and whatnot the screen looks more like shmups game than a plain Arcade game. Frame-rate constantly staying despite all the action.
Game has a generic story line where set of pilots (you being one) are set to blaze through set of different scenario's to stop a evil Z army from blowing up a nuclear bomb. There is nothing really memorable with the story line. Goes a long with usual Arcade game story lines where fate of world lies on your hands. A crammed version of a bad action movie in other words. Not that you would expect or need more with such game.
The story is done with proper voice characters which talk to you all along the game. Most of this is cheesy radio banter, but suits such simple Arcade approach. On the music selection you get two soundtracks. The main track being a new After Burner Climax soundtrack and the other being the After Burner 2 theme. Both uplifting midi-rock with a nice retro feel. Could have been more tracks though.
Game-play, as in any Sega based Arcade is absolutely top notch. Geared for fast and easy approach for any type of gamer. Controls are simple with one thumbpad controlling your aircraft. One button for for machine gun, one for missiles and one for Climax time. Climax time is a type of combo level meter that increases when doing combos. Once the meter is full and Climax is activated the time will slow down briefly and you can lock into enemies with unlimited set of missiles. Like bullet-time from many FPS games.
Game is split over 13 levels where few being Outrun style crossroads where you need to pick your route left or right in end of level. Each level being same level of difficulty opposed to Outrun where each routes are different difficulty levels Game has two mode's of play. One being the EX Mode which is the juice of the game. The way this works is that you got 35 in-game achievements which each get's unlocked when achieving something in the game. Such as get 1 000 000 points in one run or get one particular ending. Each achievement open ups extra option in the game. Such as getting Game Over for 5 times gives you to choose 5 credits instead of normal 3. This is fun way of adding some longevity to the game because overall game is rather short. Only problem with this EX mode is that this doesn't add up any challenge. Most of these unlockables make the game even easier. No challenging new game+ here or anything.
The other mode of the game is a Time Trial mode where you need to finish the 13 levels without any of the EX features. You do have endless lives though. Your score is uploaded to the live leaderboard where you can compare your score against your friends score.
To summarise. After Burner Climax has many ways the same feel as the newer Outrun games. A refreshing take of a classical Arcade game with addicting game-play. Biggest problem is that there is not really lot of challenge. Even with the extra EX achievements it wont take much time to finish the game. Of course this is a arcade game and getting competitive on the high score front with your friend list will keep you coming back. Shame that this doesn't have as much as content as Outrun Online Arcade. Nevertheless I still highly would recommend this. This is a well made Arcade port.