R-Type Final review for PS2
By Kyle "Afrotect" Akers
Back in the good ol' days of arcades, R-Type emerged as a prominent and well-designed side-scrolling shooter. You probably remember it as that game with the end boss that looked like it was straight out of the movie Alien. Now we're back, and (if you care to read the manual) we're in the middle of the final galactic war against the Bydo, a bio-mechanical race bent on destroying the world. Quite an original concept. R-Type Final, a marriage of classic arcade mantra with the look and feel of a cutting edge game, proves to be quite the sinkhole for those who crave mastering a game, be it through unlocking all 101 of the ships, or topping the high score.
When you play the first level of R-Type Final, you're going to be blown away by the graphics. While you are essentially playing a side-scrolling shooter, you sure feel like you're moving more than two directions. The background shifts, twists and turns and your ship goes along for the ride. The feel of the game feels a lot like the under-played Silpheed released for the PS2 a few years past. After you move into level three, you discover the biggest problem with the graphics in R-Type: slowdown. After about three minutes of level three (the classic gigantic battleship level) the graphics hit slowdown, and don't stop for any significant amount of time. Whether that was intentional is up in the air (Jack Burton seems to be fighting on the side of "It makes it feel more like an arcade game") but my personal feelings are that pushing as many polygons as R-Type Final does takes a little more power than the PS2 can handle. Now that's not to say that those polygons are not some of the most beautiful polygons I've seen for a good long while on my loving system, but I think that having such a performance hit warrants scaling back the model detail or polys on screen enough so you minimize such problems. So you have beauty with some major setbacks, and for that I'm going to drop a big 15 bomb on the graphic section.
Sound is pretty average. The background music is very good at staying out of your way when you need to focus on the horde of missiles and bullets and lasers flying at your fragile ship, and in breaks in enemies it seems to make itself more prevalent, urging you on with a military theme. One complaint I have is the boss music, there is only one theme (that I can decipher) and that's all you get at the bosses. Having it vary depending on bosses would be nice, but hey, how much can you really ask for? The ship's effects and ambient sound effects are nice, they add a flair when the Bydo bird with stalk legs explodes with pinkish blood in front of you, and you get a nice whimper of pain followed by the scream of defeat. The sound is definitely good for what it does, but nothing stands out, I give it a 16.
How you feel about the gameplay will vary depending on how resistant to frustration you are. The game has many-a-part where it will seem unbeatable, and if you have the patience to tough it out through the continues to learn the nuances of the level/boss/whatever, you'll make it, and it'll be easy as Sunday morning the next try. If you are easily flustered and can't stand dying, don't pick up this game. Any game where it only takes one hit to kill you is going to be trying on your nerves until you get into the swing of things. I hear a lot of complaints saying the game is too hard, and while I'll admit that the game is a challenge, once you get used to the game, it's a lot easier to dissect the difficult parts, all it takes is endurance. Controls are pretty simple, move, charge, rapid fire and force. Your force, the indesctructible glowing sphere that attaches to your ship, is quite the pivotal ally to have in this war. Each ship family has their own type, and they all do power shots when attached to your ship, and shoot in their own personal styles when detached from your ship. My personal favorite is the tentacle force, which has protruding arms when it's attached to your ship, and effectively shoots a glowing-pink-beam-of-death non-stop for as long as you hold down the rapid fire button. The individual customizability of the ships, and all the variety found in the 101 different types makes for a great way to control the kind of ship you want, the tactics you play with, and the general warrior code you live by. With its simple controls, heaps of customizability and stacks of ways to kill the damned Bydo, I give R-Type Final an 18 in gameplay.
How fun is this game? I have an absolute blast playing it every time I pop it in. I think it might appeal to particularly OCD souls like myself, but I think that anyone can sit down, set it on the appropriate skill level and have a hoot and a holler playing it. At this point I might say that if you don't like playing similar levels over and over, this is not the game for you. While there are some neat levels, especially level 2 (which changes evolution the next time you play it depending on a trigger you hit when you fight the boss), the game only has a dozen levels or so, so I would imagine those who aren't big on unlocking things could find it quite the snore after a few hours. But there is always a great feeling blasting at amorphous metallic bosses, dodging enemy fire, and speeding around incoming ships. I give this game deserves a 17 in fun.
I've touched a little bit already on the replay-ability of this game already, but I'll bring it all together here. In one aspect, the un-lockable ships, this game is an incredible buy. 101 ships, all un-lockable in different ways: some you have to beat specific levels with specific levels, some you just need to put time on the game clock, some you have to insert passwords carefully hidden on the net, it's truly a treat. Yet, when you look at the amount of levels, 7 with some variations, the game feels pretty short. The levels themselves are decently long, but I wish there were more. I think the sheer number of ships, each with their own handling and unique variety of weaponry, makes up for the lack of levels. For that I give R-Type Final a 16 in replay.
All in all, if you have any kind of hyperactive disorder, this is your game. If I could enumerate all the times I've played the first the levels to get the points I need to unlock new ships, I would. As it is, I can play those levels in my sleep, but each time feels fresh and new as I explore my new fleet of types of Rs. I give a thumb up to this game, and right now it's sitting around thirty bucks at retail, which might be too much for a game if you can't stand playing the same level over and over. If you have the cash and a lack of regard for playing levels over and over, pick this game up. Do it.
OVERALL SCORE (out of 100): 82
Copyright 3/19/04 by Kyle Akers and Breakmanx.com