After Burner Climax
Sega's After Burner Climax is one of the more intense arcade-style action games for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, complimented by high-speed play and beautiful graphics. The iPhone and iPad title retains many of these qualities. Fighter jets scream into the background and foreground, things explode and pretty scenery whizzes past as players travel hundreds of miles per hour. Sloppy controls and nagging performance issues, unfortunately, make this inferior version somewhat disappointing.
To Sega's credit, the developers managed to shoehorn the game onto Apple's hardware with decent results. Users jump into the cockpits of the powerful Super Tomcat, Strike Eagle and Super Hornet aircraft, then compete across a series of branching paths that take them soaring over a blue ocean, through canyons and a detailed Metropolis, to name a few. They'll engage the enemy with both missiles and machine guns, watching as bad guys explode. They can even toggle music from After Burner Climax or the more retro After Burner II, which is a nice touch.
It's tough to get a bead on opponents, however, when the controls are so jerky. Options include a virtual analog stick and buttons, the accelerometer (tilt) and buttons and then a combination of the two. Everything's average, and there's always the odd chance that accelerometer calibration will go haywire, forcing you to restart. Beyond that, good luck keeping the plane steady while dodging enemy fire and returning the favor. Increase speed, and you'll struggle to destroy anything. Decrease it, and you're a sitting duck; the key to success involves striking a balance.
Where After Burner Climax falters most is with its frame rate. The game slows to a shocking degree whenever you activate Climax Mode, which brings additional targeting and special effects to the experience; to be fair, the game is supposed to slow down, but this is ridiculous. You'll also notice the speed take a hit between levels, a grim reminder that iOS devices, while powerful in their own right, may have met their match barring an update from Sega.
Other complaints involve the Extra Options menu, where the developers did a poor job with the virtual buttons to inform players of their selections. On top of that, in-game explosions look crude and unimpressive, especially when planes hit the ground.
There's fun to be had, no question, but we doubt After Burner Climax will remain in your must-play list for long unless your goal is to master Score Attack and dominate the leaderboard. Sadly, this port doesn't meet the high standards of its console counterpart.
What's Hot:High-speed aerial combat, more than 20 detailed stages, three different planes, Airplay support.
What's Not:Performance takes a dive while in Climax mode, jerky controls send the planes all over the place, weak-looking crash effects.