Raiden is back with Raiden V: Director’s Cut, which is a 25th Anniversary edition. It brings the classic design back into play, with some nice new additions to spice up the already excellent action.
From the get-go, Raiden V opens with a great example of bad voice acting worthy of the PlayStation 2 era. The plot is confusing and all over the place but is pretty consistent with the action. I feel as if this will probably be the splitting point for fans of the series. On one hand, the inclusion of the plot is a breath of fresh air, but on the other, the voice acting and the script are both subpar. Also, the voice acting can be so quiet at times that you can’t really tell what they are saying without reading the script on the right. But who plays Raiden in hopes for a great story and brilliant characters? The inclusion of it here is kind of strange, but it is here to fill a player a bit on the action even though it is kind of pointless.
Like what we’re used to in Raiden there are three main weapons: the vulcan shot, the laser, and plasma gun. You have a variation for every one of these in a form of three different options for each weapon. Overall a vulcan gun is used as a spread shot and the variations are there so you could choose different scatter patterns. The laser is very useful for bosses and whenever you prefer focused fire. There is a bit more interesting variation here. The standard laser is pretty much like the one from classical Raiden, then there is the reflection laser that is an innovative addition and makes you fire out a crystal, which when shot at disperses your attack. The charge laser is a very cool weapon as you can charge it to get a super wide shot.
Then there is the famous plasma attack in the form of the toothpaste laser and the other two variations, a homing plasma and catch plasma. Catch plasma is much more fun to play with as it sticks to enemies and kills them off like a bunch of flies. When you pick up the other type of weapon it doesn’t reset your current one like in the classics, just upgrades the type you selected and switches you to that one. This is good for those that want to max out their weapons and is also required for the good ending.
You can choose between three aircrafts. The first one is Azuma, a Japanese aircraft, most balanced in both maneuverability and strength. Then comes Spirit of Dragon, a US ship designed for offense and lastly, Moulin Rouge, a French aircraft that specializes in speed over offensive capabilities. You can also choose the difficulty with very easy and easy difficulties being reserved for beginners as you get slower enemy fire. Very easy grants you more destructible bullets and even slower enemy fire than on the easy setting. Normal is your standard difficulty, but for those that don’t stray away from additional challenge there are hard and very hard modes with increasingly faster enemy speed. Finally, in practice mode enemy ships don’t fire at all.
Like in previous games, you collect medals and they add up to your final score, though after dying the score resets so you should be careful with using continues if you are playing towards unlocking those S rank missions. The famous Miclus and Fairy pickups are back and they also add up a lot to your score. The preferred method of collecting medals is to stop shooting for a moment and you will see all the medals on screen, except the special and ground ones, that fly directly towards you.
There is a new system in place that is designed to help you in a pinch called Cheer. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with Twitch Cheer, but it is an interesting mechanic, as a random player steps in when you need some additional firepower. This is not limitless so you should really think about whether you need one of these or not.
Generally, there is too much info on-screen that at times it gets kind of hard to follow through. On the left side, there are some statistics with graphs and some in-game tips alongside your weapon info and shield and bomb counters. On the right side, you can follow the on-screen characters and their monologues along with the script and a totally useless minimap that is just a placeholder for when you play the game in co-op as this is where the stats for the second player go.
Not a second goes by that the on-screen characters start blurting out some useless advice like “Exercise caution” and “Better rush through”, which I think some players will find a fault with. It’s also kind of pointless as they talk about some super-secret operation as if bombs and bullets aren’t flying everywhere.
The screen organization gets a bit in the way of gameplay, but that can all be easily overlooked. On the other hand, sometimes it can be hard to track where all the enemy bullets are. I have especially noticed this when using a wide vulcan shot. Also, in later stages there are levels with a blue background and enemy’s blue bullet patterns. These were also tricky to spot, especially with the frantic speed in the later stages.
There aren’t that many modes that we got used to from other shoot-em-up releases. There are two modes in total – A story mode, which gives you an option to start an entirely new game or to select a stage, as well as a boss mode. The boss mode is just that, try to defeat a boss with a set weapon and within a time limit. There is a co-op mode, but apart from the Cheer system, there isn’t any form of online multiplayer, which in my opinion could have boosted the replay value a notch.
It will take you about a couple of hours to beat the main story, and after that it is up to you whether you want to hone your skills and try to beat the storyline on the S rank and to try and beat the boss stages. Overall, Raiden V is a welcome addition to the series, but it doesn’t add much new to the table. It is fairly beginner friendly and can be enjoyed by the veterans alike, but generally, it lacks in additional content to make it stand out from other shoot-em-ups on the market.