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The R-Type series has long been a forerunner in the shoot ‘em up genre with the previous game R-Type Final released for the PS2 in 2004. A crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign in June 2019 brought the series back to the limelight with the highly anticipated R-Type Final 2 now available for PC, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and the Xbox Series X/S.      

R-Type Final 2 keeps the spirit of its predecessor with its strategic and methodical gameplay in close spaces and environmental hazards. Rather than navigating through an often expected barrage of stray bullets, the careful deployment of shields and speed is necessary to withstand any to all hostile threats as a lone pilot. A variety of fighter ships each equipped with unique equipment and abilities are available to use and customize to your liking. Weapons like the Wave Cannon, missiles and lasers allow levels to be replayed multiple times with different approaches and tactics to subdue enemies. If you perish in battle, you are brought back to the previous checkpoint, albeit in a less powered and more vulnerable state. This stands in contrast to other conventional bullet hell shooters where players normally respawn at the exact location they met their untimely demise. Be warned as death will halt your progress with no health gauges to mitigate the inevitable one-hit kills that will occur throughout the numerous stages.

 

Make no mistake, R-Type Final 2 is a challenging game that requires multiple playthroughs, muscle memory and quick reflexes to survive the onslaught of relentless enemies. It is easy to suffer defeat at the hands of numerous enemies, let alone the boss, due to human error or a misstep made by a fraction of a second. The difficulty settings to choose from are Practice, Kids, Normal, Bydo and R-Typer that directly impacts the number of continues available. You are able to increase or decrease the speed of your ship to match the pace of the given stages at any time as you search for power ups and weapon upgrades. The R Museum is a hangar where you can view all the fighter ships at your disposal with three aircraft available at the start. Trial and error is encouraged to find the ship most suited to your preference and style of gameplay in the earlier stages.   

Laser crystals are dropped by enemies and can grow a force into three different stages that is capable of absorbing incoming enemy fire and damaging enemies in close contact. Forces can be deployed to attack independently or attached to either the front or rear of the ship. The strength and attack types of the Force are dependent on the Force equipped with the ability to recall or deploy it at any time. Three types of lasers can be fired depending on the laser crystal: red, blue and yellow. Red lasers are effective on enemies directly ahead, blue lasers attack aerial enemies in diagonal formations and yellow lasers deal damage to enemies directly above or below the ship.

 

Craft development options gradually become available as you acquire the necessary resources from successfully completed missions. These resources are Solonium, Etherium, and Bydogen with the detailed requirements listed within the R Museum. Any newly obtained craft must be registered in the Hangar before they are dispatched with customization options like decal images, missiles, bits, body color and canopy color as your list of choices. Should you decide to delete any registered ships, all the associated customization will be removed with them. 

Visually, the game is colorful with the ship designs serving as the highlight. It’s unfortunate that some backgrounds and enemies appear bland or dull in comparison with the graphics showcasing the potential of the Unreal Engine at work. The soundtrack is engaging and fits the atmosphere well with fast-paced energy and a boosted adrenaline rush. The Bydo Lab and Gallery showcase the number of enemies, investigations and artwork unlocked as you advance throughout the game. 

R-Type Final 2 is the horizontal side-scrolling game that fans have long been waiting for. Despite the steep difficulty and intermittent pacing issues, the game is a nostalgic throwback and a genuine nod to the legacy of the R-Type series. It doesn’t veer too far out of what is expected of an R-Type game but it stands nonetheless as a love letter to the arcade style shoot ‘em up games that defined the early console generations.  

 

PROS (+): Vibrant Visuals, Engaging Gameplay, High Replay Value

CONS (-): Steep Difficulty, Pacing Issues    

 

SCORE – 8.0/10

This review is based on a digital copy of R-Type Final 2 on the PlayStation 4 provided by the publisher. 

 

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