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Sometimes, you don't want things like "depth" or "complexity" from a game. Sometimes it's enough to control something very fast as it fills the sky with explosions, and in that regard, After Burner Climax delivers beautifully. An iOS port of a 2006 arcade shooter, Climax keeps it fairly simple: as the pilot of one of three high-end fighter jets, your job is to target and destroy everything in front of you until it is no longer in front of you. And even if that doesn't sound appealing, the ridiculous speed and raw destructive capability Climax offers may be enough to draw you in.
More an on-rails arcade shooter than a flight sim, Climax keeps your plane moving in one direction — forward — while enemies glide into view on the horizon. Moving the jet around with a virtual thumbstick lets you "paint" your targets with a lock-on cursor, at which point you can try to take them down with machineguns or — and this is far more enjoyable — simply hammer the "missile" button to unleash fountains of explosive ruination at everything in front of you. Unsurprisingly, your enemies have similar ideas, so you'll also have to dodge incoming missiles (and walls and other hazards) if you want to stay alive long enough to keep shooting at things. If things get too hairy, you can activate "Climax," a brief window of slow motion that lets you leisurely get a bead on enemies — which is especially useful during missions that set you on the trail of an elusively quick target.
Again, it's not the most complex setup, but Climax moves so fast that it's difficult to find a moment to object. Your enemies rarely stick around longer than a second before either exploding or disappearing, and between the numerous incoming objects and the slickly rendered terrain zooming past below, there's a very palpable sense of speed (which you can make more palpable by ratcheting up the throttle for a quick turbo boost).
No matter how fast you're moving, though, the experience is dragged down by a few irritations; the controls are finicky, and executing rolls with the virtual thumbstick — essential for evading certain enemies — can be extremely difficult, especially on an iPad. Mission objectives, in the rare moments they extend beyond "destroy everything," aren't always clear, and while branching paths and secret areas add some replayability, the central arcade mode takes about 10 to 15 minutes from start to finish. Even so, Climax is a lot of fun while it lasts.
The bottom line. It may be a brief thrill, but high speed and explosions make After Burner Climax a lot of fun while it lasts.
After Burner Climax 1.0
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later (optimized for iPhone 5)
Fantastic sense of speed. Pumping out missiles to blow stuff up as it roars past can be immensely fun. Just enough terrain and mission variety to keep things interesting.
Finicky controls, especially on iPad. Mission objectives are sometimes unclear. Extremely short.