After Burner Climax is a decent game with a few flaws that keep it out of my library.
First of all this is not a flight simulator. Sure you get a choice of three actual aircraft (F/A-18E Super Hornet,F-14D Super Tomcat, and F-15E Strike Eagle) beautifully rendered and available in various paint schemes, but the planes all act the same and no modern aircraft would fire 75 missiles in a mission all at targets about a thousand yards away. Climax is to modern air battles as Joust was to medieval warfare.
Nope this is an on rails shooter. All the aircraft and opponents are simply window dressing. Change the background to a moonscape and all the aircraft to space ships and the game would play exactly the same.
The window dressing is a strong point for Climax however as your aircraft and your opponent's planes are all beautifully rendered. In addition the explosions are healthy, the ground underneath is gorgeous and the whole kit and caboodle moves at dizzying speeds.
The main complaint about the game from other reviewers was that it was shallow... Well it is an on rails shooter; so shallow often comes with the territory. Indeed there is nothing wrong with a shallow game every once in a while. That said After Burner Climax does take shallow to a new depth.
Still the deal breakers for me had nothing to do with a lack of story (or goal or boss fight or real conclusion for that matter) Nor did my frustration that no there still isn't a decent modern flight for the consoles enter into the fray. No the deal breakers for me are the controls and the view.
There are four control schemes available in Climax and all of them are somewhat awkward. For a game that requires you to shoot guns and missiles about three times a second putting such actions on the face buttons or the bumpers seems unwise when there are nice big fat triggers I could be pressing. The triggers are instead used for accelerating and decelerating which honestly could be handled by the left analog stick. For that matter It is an on rails shooter already moving at a high rate of speed I am not sure why I would want to accelerate anyway.
The other bogey is the lack of a cockpit view. I know this isn't a simulator and the planes are beautifully rendered, but the darn things take up way too much screen real estate and often block the view of your targeting reticule. Indeed an in cockpit view would also give one a better feeling of speed and more immediacy in battle.
Overall After Burner Climax isn't a bad game. It is a decent and pretty on-rails shooter with a few niggling flaws that keep me from wanting to play it more than once. At five bucks its maybe be a decent value for you... My score $3
Now I had planned to give a long talk on the lack of decent flight simulators on the modern consoles but alas I have more reviews than time right now so here is a synopsis.
Modern planes don't translate well to video games because of their annoying habit of firing missles at enemies over the horizon instead of manning up with a dog fight. The only current modern fighter on my to play list is Ace Combat 6; which despite being a relatively old game is still quite dear price wise and is saddled with a Japanese story that could only be described as well Japanese.
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII and Blazing Angels 2: Secret Missions are my runners up for WW2 flight simulators with the horribly named IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey being the strongest WW2 contender. All three are on my to play list.
I would also be remiss to ignore our World War 1 candidature Snoopy's Flying Ace which seemed fun though it is understandably arcadey.
So that is the short if you want to pick up a flight simulator IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey is your best bet.
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