It struck us as kind of weird when we first heard that publisher Sega had handed off its classic After Burner franchise to Planet Moon, the oddball developer behind Infected, Armed and Dangerous and Giants: Citizen Kabuto. And now we've seen the result of that decision: cow-themed jet fighters with giant, milk-spraying udders.
Granted, the cow jets are just part of After Burner: Black Falcon's "Mad Cow" deathmatch mode, in which one player becomes the Mad Cow (hence the new paintjob) and everyone else tries to kill him or her to become the next Mad Cow. The Mad Cow isn't completely defenseless, though, and can squirt gobs of milk backwards out of its udders, stopping any would-be pursuers dead in their tracks.
Or at least, that's how it's supposed to work - during our brief time trying to steer the cow-jet, our opponents repeatedly pulled behind us and shoved missile after missile up our exhaust despite our best efforts to splatter them. When we weren't getting blown to pieces, however, the jets handled smoothly, racing over the landscape, pulling off barrel rolls and weaving through caverns with ease.
Mad Cow won't be Black Falcon 's only multiplayer mode, but it's the only one we've been able to try out so far. However, we've gleaned that bizarre aerial deathmatches will be only the tip of Black Falcon 's multiplayer iceberg when the game hits in March. And while the four-player explodathons show a lot of promise, co-op is where the real action's at.