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R-Type Final PlayStation 2

Published by Metro3D
Developed by Irem Software
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

Side-scrolling shooters have been a staple in a lot of gamer's diets for a long time now. Since the late 80's, you couldn't walk into an arcade without seeing several of the machines scattered around the building, and over time the arcade games were converted to the various home machines available at the time. R-Type has always been one of the most famous and popular games of this type, and for good reason. Featuring fast and furious game play with hordes of enemies, big bosses, and plenty of power-ups, it hit upon a formula which won over the fans, and has resolutely stuck to that winning formula in the face of more up-to-date rivals. This, unfortunately brings us to where we are today, reviewing R-Type Final, which as the name suggests, will be the final game in the series. Can it live up to the name and legacy of those that have gone before it? The short answer for those that don't like reading the whole review, is a definite yes.

The story, as usual, is you against the Bydo Empire, who are as always trying to take over the world. You are a member of Operation Last Hope, and it’s up to you to make sure the Bydo Empire fail with their nefarious plans. Pretty basic stuff, but this is a shooter boys and girls, the story is a mere afterthought most of the time. At least it explains why you’re mowing down the relentless waves of enemies whose sole aim in life seems to be to kill you.

The game play mechanics will be familiar to pretty much anyone who has played a 2D shooter before. You start off with a standard weapon, which can either fire off quick shots, or be charged for a more powerful attack (up to 2 or 3 levels, depending on what ship you’re flying, and how much time you have). Of course, a 2D shooter wouldn’t be able to show it’s face in public if it didn’t have power-ups and additional weaponry, and R-Type doesn’t disappoint here. You can collect a Force, which attaches to the front or back of the ship, which has 3 benefits. It is indestructible, so can be used to protect your ship from attack. It allows you to collect weapon power ups, allowing you to fire in several directions at once. It can also be shot forward into the fray, taking out pretty much anything it hits on the way. The ability to attach the Force to the front or back of your ship allows for different methods of approaching levels, depending on where the enemy is coming from (and believe me, they come from everywhere!). You can also collect up to 2 “bits”, which are spherical drones which attach to the top or bottom of your ship, firing shots on their own, and like the Force, damaging anything it touches. These babies stay put though, and cannot be fired away (which would have been quite neat).

Along with the varied power-ups, you also have a huge amount of ships, 100 in total. You only get a handful at the start, and completing missions in various ways will unlock the others. There are no great differences between the ships I found, mainly weapon types, but it does add some variation to the game, and completists will surely enjoy trying to unlock them all. Each ship can also be customised in several ways, in terms of colour, secondary weaponry, and “bit” type.

The game itself is quite short, and an experienced player will find themselves finishing the game in under 2 hours on the standard difficulty setting. Thankfully though, there are several difficulty levels tailored to suit all kinds of people. As long as you play on an appropriate level, the game will offer up plenty of challenges, often forcing you to replay the same section multiple times until you have the attack patterns of the enemies firmly entrenched into your mind. There are multiple paths through some levels though, depending on your performance and the ship you’re flying. These paths can shorten the level time dramatically, or throw you headlong into another stream of enemies. It’s these paths that certainly increase the longevity of what can be quite a short game. Despite the obvious repetition though, the game never seems dull, and you definitely get a buzz when you finally manage to overcome a stage that’s been troubling you for 30 minutes.

Graphically, the game is excellent. This is the first (and unfortunately last) R-Type game on any of the current generation machines, and it certainly looks the business. There are lighting effects all over the place, great explosions, excellent backgrounds, powerful looking weapons, and just an aura of general cool-ness. There’s often a lot going on at the same time and it all looks great. There is unfortunately one problem though which rears it’s ugly head, and that’s slowdown. While not apparent all of the time, when a lot is going on at once you can notice it. Some stages are worse than others, but I would say on the whole that it doesn’t harm the experience too much. It would have been nice to have eliminated it though, especially as this is the last outing for R-Type.

So, to continue from the first paragraph, R-Type Final certainly lives up to the name and legacy of it’s predecessors. Fans of the genre will have no problems getting to grips with the game, and new players will undoubtedly enjoy the pure “switch your brain off and let your reactions do the work” game play. It’s a throwback to the days when you could pop 10p into an arcade machine and play away happily. It’s a game that’s little on thought, and heavy on action, and it’s a game that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall Game Rating: 8.2/10
A great shooter that brings back memories of yore. If it wasn’t for the annoying slowdown problem, it would be almost perfect.

Deaf Gamers comment:
The game is perfectly fine for deaf gamers. The story, what there is of it, is all text based, with no voice-overs to miss.

Reviewed by David Pitchforth