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Metareview: After Burner

The playable version of Sega's After Burner: Black Falcon at GDC left me more than a little underwhelmed. Now that the final game is out, critics seem to have mixed praise for Planet Moon's latest PSP exclusive:
  • GameDaily (80/100) loves the old-school revival: "The studio captured the old-school feeling of the arcade original while, at the same time, adding enough originality and excitement to make it feel like a cool modern-day action game."
  • IGN (79/100) enjoyed the game, even with its poor multiplayer options: "Lots of games have tried to bring an arcade feel to their next-generation efforts, but it's rare to see someone nail it like After Burner has."
  • Electronic Gaming Monthly (47/100) agrees with my quick first-impressions the most: "After Burner sports merely decent graphics while managing to suck all the fun out of a once-great franchise."
While I didn't enjoy my time with the game, the critics at GameDaily and IGN seem to have enjoyed the arcadey feel of After Burner. Maybe it's one of those games you learn to love? The game is out now.

GDC 07: After Burner impressions

Sega's upcoming After Burner is not good. The final version of the game appeared at GDC, and it did not leave a good lasting impression. The graphics are quite lackluster, featuring some aliasing problems, and serious draw distance issues. The game just doesn't look good, near or far. The incredibly slow pace of the plane seems somewhat insulting, making you want to hold the Afterburner button as much as you can. At least barrel rolls look cool.

The gameplay doesn't really add up to much, either. The controls don't feel as tight as the ones featured in Ratchet & Clank's space shooter segments. The lock on weapons are generous, and the highly unintelligent enemy AI doesn't seem to do much to not get killed. They may fire back once in a while, and like in Full Auto 2, it's nigh impossible to tell how you're doing from the craft itself: you'll have to look in the bottom right corner to see a meter. You won't ever feel impact, nor will you feel like the craft is ever taking damage.

It's unfortunate that this game is so uninspired. While the full retail version may have more options, I highly doubt that the core gameplay will get any more interesting. The game comes out March 20th.

Sega loves your PSP: media round-up

Looks like Sega held an event (why wasn't I invited?), showcasing all of their PSP games (and there's a lot). There's been a ton of coverage of their games all over the interwebs. For your reading pleasure, here's an index of where to go:

After Burner: Black Falcon
1UP - "As it turns out, Mad Cow mode is not one of the multiplayer options -- it is the entire competitive multiplayer portion of the game."
1UP Video
IGN - "Mad Cow seems like an okay bit of fun, but we're not sure how much strategy is involved here so it may wind up getting old pretty quickly."
IGN Game Trailers

Alien Syndrome
1UP - "It would be nice to have a solid story that could logically explain why no one except Aileen Harding feels the need to fight this alien infestation. You could call her compulsion a syndrome -- maybe even an Alien Syndrome."
1UP Video
Gamespot - "The camera system looks to be quite intelligent."
Gamespot Video Interview
IGN - "While the game pays homage to the original title with gameplay elements like saving hostages and escaping a level before time runs out, the PSP version has definitely got a number of improved features."
IGN Game Trailer

Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars
1UP - "If you played the original Crazy Taxi, it should be easy enough to pick up the PSP version. The controls carry over fine, so you'll be racking up fares in no time."
Gamespot - "Our cab seemed to suffer from some oversteer at times, but that's almost certainly still being tweaked."
IGN - "While the game was certainly playable, the unoptimized framerate meant that it was difficult to pull off some of the moves as we had to slow our finger movements down to match the game speed. We're told this won't be a problem in the final release however."

1UP - "The developers have been taking pains to make this a friendly game. If you should accidentally manage to crush Danny, don't worry, because it won't kill you. It is also impossible to walk off the edge of the world, although a jumping error will send you falling."
1UP Video
Gamespot - "It's a heady concept, and it forced us to think in ways we hadn't considered when we first got our hands on the game, and we think that's a pretty good sign for a puzzle game."
Gamespot Video Interview
IGN - "Crush has a very compulsory feel to it, and the idea that there's actually a story to tell (told Memento style as you regress further and further into your memories) is a nice extra touch."
IGN Game Trailer

Full Auto 2
1UP - "They've tried to cut down on frustrating 90 degree turns and added more super weapons which cause massive damage."
1UP Video
Gamespot - "All of the levels pack a surprising amount of detail to them, and even better, the frame rate held up admirably during our time with the game."
Gamespot Gameplay Video 1
Gamespot Gameplay Video 2
IGN Interview - "The result of this philosophy is Full Auto 2: Battlelines for the PSP was built from the ground up and is not a port of the PS3 version. We knew in order to create a great game we needed to start fresh and create our own take on what Full Auto on the PSP would be like."
IGN Gameplay Videos

Virtua Tennis 3
1UP Video
Gamespot - "For the PSP demo, we cranked up the difficulty to the maximum level and were pleased to find out that it's practically a whole new game. Instead of letting you chase them around the court, the AI opponents will mix up their shots brilliantly, hitting deadly accurate crosscourt shots with ease to turn the tables so you're the running monkey. It's a promising sign that the game will have a good amount of replayability."
IGN - "The PSP analog nub is a little stiff, but it isn't anything we haven't run into before and it seems to work pretty well with the couple of guys we tried it with."
IGN Gameplay Video

See Planet Moon hard at work on After Burner

While Planet Moon may be going on to other platforms soon, they're still working on After Burner, another PSP-exclusive from the team that brought you Infected. In an interview with 1UP, the team reveals their special affinity towards the system: "Yeah, we never actually proposed anything but a PSP version of After Burner because it just felt like it was an idea that was perfect for this platform and hopefully, having the chance to play it now, this is the kind of thing you can imagine playing on your PSP quite a bit."

It's nice to see a developer really think about the PSP's strengths: being able to bring great graphics on the go. To see more of Planet Moon, and what their offices look like, check out Matt Leone's 1UP blog.

The jets & sets of After Burner: Black Falcon

Did you know that the upcoming After Burner: Black Falcon uses real world, licensed aircraft? Neither did I, until Gamespot talked to producer Ryan Kauffman. He reveals the crafts that are used in the game, such as the F-14X Tomcat, the F-15E Strike Eagle, and the F/A-18E Super Hornet. Those that know their planes may appreciate the inclusion of more modern craft, such as the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Lightning II.

While the vehicles of After Burner may stick true to the real world, it appears that the locations are based in fantasy. The term "reality plus one" reflects upon the level designs, which vary from a lush jungle environment, to a snowy tundra. My favorite named level? Mountainistan. Just has a nice ring to it.

We'll keep our eyes open for more info on Sega's upcoming game. After Burner hits stores March 20th.

Mad cows infect After Burner

Those lucky jerks at 1UP have been able to play Planet Moon's latest game, After Burner. The preview is overwhelmingly glowing, with the controls noted as some of the system's best. "The game features some of the best hit boxes on PSP -- just loose enough to work properly with the analog nub, and just tight enough to make it not feel like the game does the work for you."

Of course, Planet Moon's usual quirky humor has permeated the game. Of note is one multiplayer mode, called Mad Cow mode, which has you flying around as a cow, trying to survive. If you're interested in finding more about this Sega revival, check out 1UP's preview. Then, you may want to head over to the developer's blog, in hopes of more bovine violence. The game comes out March 20th.

(Note: the embedded video is from an early build. 1UP says the near-final build plays much better than this. Let's hope they're right, because this looks pretty junky.)

After Burner's speedy, hot trailer

We've all read about how good Sega's upcoming After Burner game might be, but we haven't seen it in motion. That is, until now. Sega's After Burner seems to have something that a similar-looking game, MACH, is sorely missing: speed. Check out IGN's video of the game in motion and judge for yourself: is After Burner on your radar list?

The game hits PSP exclusively on March 20th.

[Thanks, Hashbrown_Hunter!]

After Burner still looking good

It looks like the major game sites had the chance to look at Planet Moon's upcoming take on Sega's After Burner. All of them seem to have rather nice things to say. Gamespot notes that "Control is accessible and sticks to an easy-to-pick-up interface." They also praised the high quality of the graphics.

For people that are worried that this modern reimagining of the classic will stray too far from the original's formula need not worry. IGN notes that "it definitely plays like an Afterburner game. There's no real-world physics, for starters. Players still rocket through the skies at obscene speeds blowing up everything in sight. Plus, the camera perspective and controls still retain the ease-of-use and responsiveness of older titles."

The game will come out in March, so expect more updates in the upcoming year.

Planet Moon's After Burner is lookin' good

Planet Moon Studios, developers of MDK, Giants, and the PSP-exclusive Infected, have been working hard at reviving a old Sega classic. After Burner: Black Falcon is yet another PSP-exclusive endeavor from this respected developer, and 1UP has the exclusive scoop on the game. They talked to Bob Stevenson on the game, and he explains: "We were interested in taking a classic arcade game like After Burner and adding a bit of artistic license, Planet Moon-style. We were careful not to go too crazy as the game has its own essence that we didn't want to mess with."

The classic game will be getting some unique story and character development, something the team at Planet Moon has always been good at. With 30+ single player missions and extensive multiplayer modes planned, you may want to keep your eye on this one on its journey to a Spring 2007 release.

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