Without the stomach-churning hydraulics of the original arcade machine – and restrictive ‘on-rails’ action that forces you down a narrow flight path, without the freedom to explore and choose your own route – After Burner’s PSP debut is at a serious disadvantage from the off. But with lightning-paced action, impressive pyrotechnics and gloriously OTT action, Black Falcon still emerges as the most thrilling flight game on Sony’s handheld.
Like the coin-op classic, Black Falcon’s action is charmingly simple, thrusting players into a series of mercurial missions where enemies attack in tight formations from all sides, challenging players to barrel-roll through the skies to avoid being peppered with bullets and use homing rockets to knock out rivals. Unlike most bland PSP flight games the presentation is also excellent, transporting players to a variety of sprawling landscapes including deserts, frozen wastelands and even a delirious trip through the core of a volcano.
On the downside the experience is over much too quickly, and it won’t take experienced players long to blast through the entire game. The variety of missions on offer is also limited, and the multiplayer mode - although fun for a while - isn’t deep enough to keep you hooked much longer than it takes to complete the main game. But for PSP owners gagging for a spot of airborne combat, Black Falcon is the best thing on the shelves right now.
Reviewed by David McComb