February 2nd, 2007, 00:47 Posted By: wraggster
When it comes to high-octane arcade experiences, few franchises deliver like After Burner. Though the series has been on hiatus for some time now, SEGA is bringing back its classic flight combat game this March when it touches down on the PSP with After Burner: Black Falcon. We have a preview build of the game in the office and to make a long story short, it seems like classic After Burner goodness through and through.
The game's storyline (like it really needed one) follows the theft of 13 top-secret fighter jets stolen from a hidden hanger at Broom Lake. Each of these crafts were code-named Assassin 1 - 13 and carried the most deadly payloads a fighter has ever held on agile and fast bodies like nothing before them. It's your job to hunt down the culprits behind the theft and recover (or destroy) the planes before any damage can be inflicted with them.
You begin Black Falcon by choosing one of three pilots, each with their own strengths. Billy "Sonic" Blaze flies his signature F-15E Strike Eagle and is known as the fastest pilot on Earth. Harrison "Bull" Duke brings an F/A-18E Super Hornet to the fight along with his deadly payloads and increased cash take in. Last but not least, Tomiko "Shinsei" Rossellini joins the crew with the most balanced setup, her F-14D Super Tomcat both quick and powerful.
Each of the characters has different secret bonuses for each mission, all revolving around their specialty. Most of Sonic's secret goals involve beating a time record for a mission. Bull's involves collecting a ton of cash, while Shinsei's goal is simply perfection.
While each pilot has his or her own signature plane, you're able to choose from one of 15 different real-world crafts to take flight in. Your pilot's signature plane will be free of course. For each star level you progress (it looks like there are five in the game) you'll earn the right to buy bigger and better improvements to your canon, missiles, rockets, afterburner and more. You can also slap a custom paint job on your plane, though this only seems to be for looks, but at least they're cheap.
Once you're in the game, you'll immediately feel at home again in the After Burner universe. Controls are practically dead-on with what we remember from way back in the day, with lighting-quick maneuvering and barrel rolls aplenty. The game is quite fast and the framerate held steady in every mission we tried, making for a smooth and arcade-esque play experience. To say that After Burner is alive and kicking would be an understatement.
For each mission you're given three lives and a couple stops along the way to refill your armament and health. Netting combo kills will earn you some sort of in-game bonus, like health or even a slow-motion timer that moves the game at a snail's pace for a short time for some easy kills. These combos come to you on parachutes and you actually need to grab them, but most of the time they seemed to fly straight into our windshield without us even paying attention. We did miss a couple here and there, however, so you'll want to be careful when you're getting low on health.
What we've played of After Burner: Black Falcon so far seems great. It's a mostly shallow experience, sure, but it's also fast and furious fun. The game is due to ship on March 20th, so stay tuned for more updates soon.
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