XBox Engages Afterburners (April 25, 2010)


Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
There's a new flight sim on XBox Live Arcade, and it really shows off what's possible today. The 50 megabyte maximum file size limit that was around when Wing Commander Arena was release has long since been lifted, and new games like Afterburner Climax clock in at a whopping 500 megs. The price tag hasn't budged however, and this game is only $10. The new game from Sega only has three fighters (compared to Arena's 18) and no multiplayer, which should help you appreciate what EA and Gaia managed to do with Wing Commander.

The classic arcade game After Burner returns for a new generation of gamers. After Burner Climax™ is fast and frantic action, putting you in the cockpit of the world’s fastest fighter plane. Dodge planes, rockets, and bullets while trying to target multiple on-screen enemy aircraft. Built for all skill levels, everyone can take to the air and blaze through a branching storyline and over 20 stages. Unlock achievements along the way to win an exclusive Avatar award using your experience and expertise.

Original update published on April 25, 2010
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You do realize that Wing Commander arena got scores around a 4.0, and this new game got a score around 6.5? How is Arena better?

Not being a troll, but stating facts.
Review scores are meaningless. Most of the reviews I've read for Afterburner are from people who don't really get arcade gaming experiences and knock it several points for only lasting 15 minutes. It is one of the best games I've played in a while in any format, especially for the lucky few that have console compatible flight sticks.

Climax + Flight Stick + Afterburner 2 music = JOY!
Not being a troll, but stating facts.

Dumping things in people's lap and leaving without explaining yourself is considered rude in most places. Don't expect anyone to take posts like these seriously.
You do realize that Wing Commander arena got scores around a 4.0, and this new game got a score around 6.5? How is Arena better?

Not being a troll, but stating facts.

It's a fact that Arena also got scores in the 8-9 range, depending on where you look. I gave a few examples right in the original post about how Arena is better. It has several distinct multiplayer modes (team objectives, death match and more) and Afterburner doesn't have any. Arena was the first XBLA game (and still one of the only ones today) to feature 16 player multiplayer in all of these modes. It has 18 different fighters to Afterburner's three. And it does it all in a package a tenth the size of the new game. That's pretty impressive.
Arena have a metascore of 5.1 and a user score of 5.6 on Metacritic. The Gamerakings score is 54.88%.

Considering those are averages, and Arena got some pretty bad scores, this also means it also got some pretty good ones. It was not a critically acclaimed game, bit it was not too bad. Being a "Wing Commander" game probably had a negative effect on the score because so many people are still waiting for a new "Big" WC game and this was not it.
I don't think there's any question that that's what caused so many low scores. Arena was one of several similar top-down planar space shooters released around the same time (including Star Trek and BattleStar Galactica tie-ins) and it was streets ahead at every measurable level--better gameplay, more options, better visuals, more players in multiplayer and so on.

The more worrisome thing, though, is that we live in an age when everyone from you people to developers themselves use a single "metacritic" score to decide how to think about something. I mean, that's *insane*. How insane? For the benefit of idiots, I will give it a numerical ranking so you don't have to read any further explanation: it is 743 insane units.

Criticism isn't some scientific measure of whether or not something has merit, it's one person's opinion influenced by their particular school of thought. That second part is key, because it informs the whole thing. Different reviews have different value to different people. You're all sci-fi geeks--every professional critic with a string of letters after his name and deep thoughts about cinema and culture and so on is probably going to tell you that the last space movie you enjoyed was a tremendous puffy waste of time. You all implicitly understand that he's not the audience and you don't listen to him.

And Arena isn't being reviewed by some intelligent person who thinks but just doesn't happen to line up with what you enjoy. It's being reviewed by slobbering cynical half-brains who aren't remotely professional writers--they're bloggers paid by Red Bull to push .gifs of dinosaurs drinking energy drinks next to whatever text block they can spit out quickly.

Those people shouldn't decide what they're allowed to eat for breakfast, much less the success or failure of a video game.

(Sadder: companies pay outside developers like Gaia their bonuses based on metacritic scores. I don't know the financials here, but they suck for some cool people who tried to do right by us.)
Well, I remember an age where games reviews didn't have scores... Maybe they shouldn't.
You mean, like movie reviews (...the good ones, at least)? That's madness! How could anyone tell if they were any good, without numbers?