Review by Chaotic_Fusion
If Ace Combat were on rails and substances...
...You would get this. After Burner: Black Falcon is the sequel of sorts to the age old After Burner titles of yesteryear ( including one Master System title and two Genesis games). Thankfully the design team behind the game realized that After Burner is what it is... A jet fighter game that is not a flight sim, but a missile lock, machine guns blazing, ass kicking sim. In other words, this is not Ace Combat. But does the game do the series justice, or does it prove that After Burner died out ages ago for a reason?
I would say After Burner has finally found a proper home on the hand-helds. Too slim to be a console game, but more than meaty enough for the PSP describes the title well. Basically your objective is to guide your jet of choice through miles of hostile enemy terrain in one direction: forward. Non-stop. There's plenty of shooting, missile firing, and obstacle dodging to keep you occupied through all this flying. There will be no lack of enemy fighters flying your way, guns ablazing. To keep you on your toes, there are three bonus objectives per mission as well. Things like shooting down enemy convoys or weapons factories. These are great because it means you need to keep your wits up as well as your trigger finger. Completing them rewards you with extra cash to spend on upgrading your ride as well. Every mission has a "critical" objective that needs to be accomplished to proceed. This can be anything from blowing up enemy bases to having dog fights with enemy fighter pilot thief assassins (if only they were also ninjas).
And actually that's really what the plot is all about in After Burner. See, some bad dudes stole some experimental aircraft from a base in some desert. You need to stop them! Good story huh? Ok so it's very lack luster, but it gives you something to read between missions and it never really bogs down the gameplay. That's the important thing.
And speaking of gameplay, there's more to After Burner than simply completing a string of missions. During your flights you can acquire cash for doing things like destroying enemies, completing bonus objectives, or killing a number of foes in a row to create combos. Using this cash, you can purchase all sorts of new vehicles and upgrades. Things like stealth bombers, missile carriers, paint jobs, extra fins, more ammo capacity, cluster missiles, etc. The customization is very welcome and adds a great extra layer to the game. Even better, it increases the replay value by allowing you to go back to previous missions and completing bonus objectives you missed for money. My only gripe is this can get fairly repetitive sometimes if you miss an objective and need to complete the level multiple times to achieve it. This is especially true since completing the timed objectives and the regular objectives all at once can be difficult.
Presentation wise After Burner ain't bad, but it isn't perfect. The levels are all varied and have a lot of character. It's just that they sometimes can appear to be very barren or plain looking. The planes are highly detailed though and look great. More objects in the levels might have made them appear little more vibrant. Music is also pretty standard fare. There are some catchy jet fighter tunes, but theres only a few and they repeat over and over through all the stages. It got to the point where I turned the sound off and didn't turn it back on. The controls are solid though, and you'll have no problem blasting your way through whatever the game throws at you.
Basically what I'm saying is that After Burner is an excellent title for those who want something with lots of action and quick pick up and play gameplay. The title has a decent number of missions, and the unlockables can takes ages to acquire if you want them all. The whole game is fast, but most of all fun. Aside from the somewhat lame design of a few levels and the repetitive music, the game has a lot going for it. It's no wonder we haven't seen an After Burner game in so long... It was just looking for a proper home. Well it found it, and thankfully delivered. Grab After Burner if you need a sophisticated time waster with lots of explosions. I guarantee it won't disappoint. Ace Combat fans, however, probably need not apply :P
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: After Burner: Black Falcon (US, 03/20/07)
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