The game again has the player flying the F-14 Tomcat, with the same weapons as before. Headquarters has informed you that "the enemy" (which the game's introduction does not identify) is reported to be building airfields and bases throughout the desert. Your mission is to take out those bases, and if you get rid of a few enemy planes in the process, "so much the better".
After Burner III differs from After Burner II significantly. Several new cinematic sequences are featured in the game. The "rolling mode" in the game is now optional. Also, two selectable in-game views are available from the main menu. The first view is the game's default, which is "cockpit". This gives you a view similar to that of common flight simulators. The second type of view available is "back", which is similar to the After Burner II arcade game. However, the "back" option has the rear of the plane obstructing the view of the targets that your vulcan cannons and missiles are supposed to shoot at.
Another difference in After Burner III is the music. There are a number of new tunes, along with altered versions of After Burner II's melodies.
MegaTech magazine gave the game 22% and noted that although the graphical capabilities of the Mega-CD were exploited, the game was "complete crap".