Afterburner Climax

Fire. Fire. Familiar words for fan of 90s shooter Afterburner. Though almost completely inaudible, the garbled sound of the word Fire would erupt from the screen every time the targeting reticule from the state-of-the-art fighter glanced over an enemy plane. Rocketing forwards in front of the screen, with almost nowhere to go, your deadly craft would streak through the skies desperately taking down every enemy in its path, banking and rolling from side to side to stay alive. Visually, the game was actually very decent for its time, but is now firmly put in the shade by HD remake Afterburner Climax, now available on the PSN store. Is it worth taking a gamble on this retro-style shooter?

Afterburner Climax

The answer, confusingly, is maybe. If you enjoyed the original, and are open to the idea of HD re-imaginings, then the game might be ideally suited to your tastes. Little has changed about the gameplay: players choose a craft (either an FA-18 Super Hornet, F-15 Strike Eagle or F-14 Super Tomcat) and blast through each linear stage with the camera in hot pursuit. Targeting, missile usage, machine guns and all the other familiar ingredients are present and correct. The main changes, besides a little control tweaking, are the HD visuals, a new selection of music (although the classic soundtrack can still be selected), climax mode (worth re-visiting in a moment) and more tweaking options, called EX options, which largely revolve around rewards that make it easier for the player to amass even greater scores.

Climax mode is perhaps the only major alteration to the gameplay, and allows players to steadily build a climax meter (by shooting enemies) which can then be unleashed in, oh no, it's here again: some sort of bullet-time, slow-motion segment, where players try to target as many enemy craft as possible, linking together huge chains of destruction. It's hugely satisfying when it works, and adds an interesting element to the formula. In spite of this, the gameplay does feel extremely familiar, which isn't a bad thing for fans of the original, but those hoping to see a big step forwards will be disappointed. The most noticeable change is in the visuals, and they do look glorious. Everything moves very quickly, with a tonne of stuff on screen at once, all set on beautiful blue skies, golden sunsets, snowy mountains, dense fluffy clouds and more. If the same level of upgrade had been applied to the gameplay, the experience might well have been truly unmissable.

Afterburner Climax

The result is a highly enjoyable game that, in classic arcade fashion, bases quick thrills on a flimsy plot. You'll likely not care why you've just taken off to do battle with sky-based enemies, nor stop to question why you're so vastly outnumbered. You simply accept that the game is all about flying fast, rolling, boosting, shooting, shooting some more, rolling again, and repeating until you're the only thing still flying. The extra options available will also allow purists to attempt the game with a finite number of missiles, leaving players with only their machine guns when supplies run out. It's that element of the game that gives it some lastability. It can be beaten, literally, in under an hour, multiple times, with each ending. But the game doesn't care. It expects you to beat your score, to achieve high targets even with limited ammo or weaker shields. There are medals to unlock signifying your achievements too, ranging from the bad, having been shot down a few too many times, to the glorious, powering through the game with terrific combo tallies and hit rates.

In many ways, there are similarities to be drawn with last year's release of Outrun: Online Arcade, which revitalized classic Outrun racing with great success. Afterburner perhaps isn't quite as flexible as Outrun, but will provide great entertainment for four or five hours. It's also the sort of game that players will likely find themselves dipping into weeks or months later, just for one quick blast through the game. The simple, arcade thrills lend themselves very well to quick-dip gaming. When you know you're heading out in ten minutes, or you've got to be in bed for work the next day, a ten-minute trail blaze through the glorious blue Afterburner skies is a brilliant alternative to weighty modern games that steal you away for hours at a time. For quick thrills, plenty of oooh... aahh... moments and retro memories, Afterburner is worth a look.

Game details

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Review summary


Classic formula provides enjoyable arcade thrills


Beautifully recreated in HD, but very linear


The choice of new or old effects is welcome


Very short, but very replayable



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