Earlier this year, the 360 received a collection of three Raiden games at the budget price of just $19.99. The Raiden revival continues with Raiden IV, out now for Xbox 360, though instead of three games you get just one, and you have to pay twice as much. This one isn't exactly a deal. The only question that you need to ask yourself is this: How much do you love old-school shooters?
Anybody who has played a standard top-down shooter like Ikaruga or 1942 will be right at home with Raiden IV. It doesn't stray from the tried and true formula of patterned enemy attack, hundreds upon hundreds of bullets filling the screen, and a high level of difficulty. Your goal is simply to survive, grab power-ups to increase your firepower, and dish out as much damage as you can. There are three main guns to upgrade, including a spread machine gun, a focused laser, and a particularly cool purple laser that locks on to enemies and wraps around the screen like a crazed boa constrictor.
There isn't any real hook to Raiden IV that sets it apart from the myriad other top-down shooters that have existed throughout the years. The enemy patterns are standard, as is the upgrade and scoring system. Where fans will find joy is in the insane challenge of making it through the game without losing a life, snagging some bragging rights, Achievements, and a spot on the leaderboards along the way. Memorizing enemy patterns is the name of the game and it's a skill you'll need to make it through Raiden IV in one piece. Once the screen starts filling with enemy fire and ships and you add your own counter-fire to the mix, the whole experience can become very chaotic for the uninitiated.
Raiden IV has its roots in the arcades, which typically translates to a pretty threadbare experience once it reaches the home console. That is most definitely true with Raiden IV, though UFO Interactive has added a few extra features in an attempt to bring things up to speed. Two new stages have been put in, and you can play co-operatively or even try your hand at navigating two ships by yourself. The standard score attack and boss rush modes make an appearance. Online leaderboards have been added and replays can be uploaded for others to download and watch.
Sadly, the same issues from the Raiden Fighters compilation return. You still have to play a specific World Rankings mode to register on the leaderboards or upload replays and there still is no online co-op play.
Though at first glance you might think there are 14 levels in Raiden IV -- that's what the Achievements indicate -- there are in fact only seven with the second half of the game merely repeating the first. Make it through the levels a second time and you'll face off against the "true" boss and then be rewarded with a poorly made cutscene. Venture over to the other game modes and you'll find that they're simply different takes on the same seven levels, each of which only takes a few minutes to complete.
UFO Interactive went ahead and added insult to injury with its use of downloadable content. After dishing out $40 for the game, you'll find that only one of the three ships on the main menu can be used. The other two must be purchased through Xbox Live. As if charging four times what similar games cost on the Xbox Live Arcade weren't enough, you're expected to pay more for the full experience.
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