PSN Review – Afterburner: Climax

May 1, 2010Written by Mike Hartnett

If you’ve ever had a shot of epinephrine, then you probably know what it feels like to play Afterburner: Climax, but if you haven’t, then prepare for one heck of a ride because this game can be summed up in just two words… adrenaline rush.

From the get-go, Afterburner: Climax pulls you in with some of the most gorgeous visuals ever to grace a PlayStation Network release. The game runs ultra smooth with essentially no slowdown whatsoever, despite the constant barrage of missiles tearing through the sky. Each stage is beautifully done, with players soaring over everything from gorgeous, crystal blue seas to the awe-inspiring aurora borealis; the artists certainly took their time in the graphical department and it shows. This is one case where standard-def television owners will feel awfully jealous of their HD counterparts, as Afterburner: Climax will have you salivating over the sharp, crisp presentation; everything from the smoke to the clouds are beautiful.

The gameplay in Afterburner: Climax is actually quite straightforward, as you have your choice of three different aircraft, each armed with regenerating missiles and an infinite supply of machine gun ammo. During your missions you’ll also be able to initiate climax mode which, when activated, causes the game to shift into slow motion, enlarging your reticle and enabling you to target as many enemies as you can on-screen while the button is held, then taking them all out it one huge barrage of missiles once the button is released. The goal of the game is to progress through each of the thirteen stages (fourteen once the secret stage is unlocked), ripping through hoards of enemy fighters in order reach your target and stop a nuclear war. There are three instances where levels will branch, allowing you to choose one of two paths, meaning it will take multiple playthroughs to see them all.

Now, progressing through the game is easier said than done, at least at first. Your first 2-3 playthroughs will undoubtedly be your most difficult as you’ll start out with only three lives and three continues, which you’ll run through pretty fast if you’re new to the Afterburner scene. But as you progress, you’ll unlock EX options which are, simply put, modifications that you can make to the arcade mode to unable things like a larger reticle, unlimited missiles, and an unlimited climax gauge, with 35 mods in all. As more and more EX options are unlocked and enabled, the game’s difficulty dive bombs into the category of insanely easy, however, having all these perks really adds to the fun of the game, making you feel like a regular Maverick as you obliterate any and all enemies that dare cruise into your airspace, while still trying to see just how much higher you can get your score.

In addition to the regular arcade mode, there is a score attack mode which has you playing through the game with an infinite amount of lives to see just how high of a score you can get, with results uploaded to the online leaderboards upon completion. Also, Sega took full advantage of the PS3 and utilized custom soundtrack support which is absolutely perfect for this type of title, and because it doesn’t completely override the game by silencing the sound effects, you’ll find yourself high on adrenaline as you tear through hoards of enemies to your favorite tunes.

The only real downside to Afterburner: Climax is its length, as it is ridiculously short and can be beaten in about 20 minutes or less. But the various bonuses, rewards and endings will have you coming back again and again. All you trophy collectors out there will also be pleased to know that the trophies for the game, twelve in all, are some of the easiest to snag on the PSN and can all be earned by the time you decide to put down the game for the night.

Overall, Afterburner: Climax is a fantastically fun PSN title that is well worth the ten dollar price of admission. Sega certainly didn’t pull any stops with this remake of a classic, with newcomers and veterans alike sure to have a blast. Despite the game’s length, you’ll no doubt find yourself lured back in time and time again, and if you’ve yet to play it, there’s really no excuse… do it now!

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Absolutely gorgeous visuals.

Fun, addictive gameplay with custom soundtrack support.

Incredibly short campaign mode, although bonuses will keep you coming back for more.