[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rtypefinal/cover.jpg[/floatleft]R-Type Final is a 2D side scrolling shooter based on the hit 1987 arcade shooter R-Type. This is the final installment of the R-Type series and should prove to be the best. I would explain the wonderfully intriguing plot behind this game if there was one. Basically you are fighting the Bydo, whom mankind has defeated 4 times before. What that means for you is tearing through wave after wave of enemies in your pursuit to preserve mankind.
When I was younger I loved to play 2D shooters. Games like Raiden were the ones that I gravitated to in the arcade while everyone else was playing the latest fighting game. I figured that R-Type Final would be right up my alley even though I have never played a game in the R-Type series. I popped RTF into my PS2 and got ripping. I was intimidated by the level of customization that you can put into your fighter. There are an endless number of color combinations and there are over 160 weapons available. I can definitely see many people spending 30 minutes or more customizing the perfect fighter. There were too many options for me so I just changed a few colors and started to play.
There are a few different difficulty levels in RTF and I started out with normal only to have my butt handed to me quite early in the game. Several tries later I managed to beat the first level. I decided to make things a little easier on myself and start out on a little easier difficulty so I played the Kids and Babies difficulties. What is it with the insults being hurled from the difficulty selection screen like what we saw recently in Viewtiful Joe? Needless to say I still got my butt whipped but I got a lot farther.
[floatright]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rtypefinal/ss08_thumb.jpg[/floatright]2d shooters typically have pretty standard fare graphics, but that was one area that R-Type impressed me with. R-Type is a 2d linear game but the graphics are made up of 3d objects. Camera problems plague most 3d games, but since your view is fixed at all times the developer had a lot less to worry about. The 3d objects really enhanced the game and allowed the use of some pretty cool effects. In some parts of the game, you are taken underwater and the visuals change to represent a camera that is underwater. Very well done indeed.
In terms of sound, RTF really didn’t deliver. I think my sub-conscious blocked most of it out, but most of the music left me feeling like I was on a very long frustrating elevator ride.
Aside from having my butt served to me on a silver platter, there were a few small things that just seemed to irk me about RTF. The first of those things is the inability to save your progress. I realize R-Type started life as an arcade game and to stay true to that this option was probably not considered for very long, but in the world of console games I would expect you to be able to save your progress and pick it up on the level you were previously at. This may not seem like a huge deal to anyone else, but when I spend a hefty amount of time trying to get to the 3rd or 4th level I expect to be able to start there in later games.
I was also not too thrilled with the controls of the game. Maybe I haven’t played enough shooters lately, but it seemed like they were just a little bit overly complex. You have fire and rapid fire as well as detach force and special weapon. Fire can be held to charge the main weapon for a super shot while rapid fire cannot. R1 and Circle are both rapid fire while just square is fire. I don’t want to seem like I am complaining, but I am. From my perspective X is the primary button on the PS2 and it is assigned the function of detaching force. While I will admit that the ability to detach the force object is a pretty integral role in RTF, I found myself using it far less than I would use Fire or Rapid Fire. RTF does include a way to remap the buttons and it’s not hard at all, but the default controller configuration seemed a little strange to me. I kept detaching my force when I meant to fire at first and that got a little aggravating. Veterans of R-Type or other shooters may feel right at home, but as someone returning to the genre after a long hiatus I was a little annoyed.
[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/rtypefinal/ss01_thumb.jpg[/floatleft]The overall gameplay experience you can expect from RTF is a positive one. I trust that my little annoyances are more than likely due to my own quirky gaming habits and not a typical complaint of the general gaming public. In a time where there seem to be polar opposites in terms of game difficulty, R-Type Final finds itself in the very hard category. You are thrust into having to master the use of many different weapons from standard guns and missiles, to your force and special weapon, to mastering the use of the speed up and slow down buttons that control the speed of your fighter. With over 160 weapons and 100 ships, you no doubt have your work cut out for you in terms of setting up the perfect ship and mastering its abilities.
There are a few additional features in RTF that round this game out nicely. For starters, there is an in game tutorial that shows you the ropes in all aspects of the game. Very nice indeed since it isn’t always handy to keep manuals around or dig it out. There is also the R-Museum that shows the ships you have unlocked to date. RTF does lack multiplayer which is a staple of most shooters but does have a few gametypes I have yet to see in recent shooters. RTF comes equipped with a score attack mode where you try and get the highest score in a single level as well as an A.I. Battle mode. In the A.I. Battle mode you customize your ship to the best of your ability and pit it against a standard ship or even another custom ship in a CPU controlled battle. This will surely please tactical game fans as the gamer has no interaction once the battle begins.
R-Type Final is a 2D/3D hybrid that delivers a difficult game experience with a level of customization that is out of this world. The story is weak and the sound is lame, but the graphics are very polished and it is an arcade game after all. The lack of multiplayer is disappointing, but the A.I. Battle mode and Score Attack modes will keep tactical fans busy after completing the single player game. There were a few things that got on my nerves about the game, but I expect I am in the minority on these issues. All in all it’s a welcome addition to the shooter genre and will find a nice home in many gamer’s libraries even if I am not one of those people.