Raiden V, developed by MOSS, is the fifth title in the long running and popular action packed Raiden shoot-em-up series. This latest version plays very similarly to previous entries in the franchise as we see the player tasked with taking down the Crannasians, an alien race who are hell bent on destroying the Earth. However, achieving this is by no means an easy task.

The campaign is where the action is based from the get go with other options becoming available to the player later on. Within it there are an initial eight stages for the gamer to fight their way through. Before doing this however the player must choose between one of three different supersonic sci-fi aircraft which are available to them – before going on the offensive and laying waste to the alien enemy.

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To do this, you will of course need to have the right weapons selected. Despite not being the largest collection of weapons seen in a shooter, the Vulcan missiles, Decimating lasers or trusty plasma beam that are available provide more than enough firepower to blast away anything in your way – once they’ve been levelled up of course! Each of the three weapon types available come in three different variations with one enabling the player to fire directly ahead, another offering diagonal shooting pattens and the final one providing attacks that cover the sides of the screen. 

Once you’ve decided on the weapons that best suit the battle ahead, everything kicks off big style. However changing weapons isn’t as simple as a simple button press as players are required to collect various colour gems in game in order to change to the weapon associated to that colour; red represents missiles, blue sorts you out for a laser, whilst the plasma beam comes along with the pink gems. The weapons chosen at the start of the game are levelled up by attacking enemies within each stage in order to ensure they are powerful enough to attack the large enemies the player will face at the stage finale. With this set up you’re on course to tackle the game’s enemies as quickly as possible. These also come in three different types, with various different designs to keep a nice variation. Basically they boil down to small, medium and large enemy types and within these are cannons of each size and tanks, fighting jets and bombers which each fire various different versions of the weapons available to the player. The large enemies on offer come in the form of bosses which the player will face once arriving at the end of each stage, offering the toughest battle of all! 

The score gained in each level plays a big part in what is available later on in the game with greater rewards for those who dispatch their enemies as quickly as possible. With better scores, the stages not available from the start of the story can become unlocked allowing a total of 27 playable stages available to play. The player can only play through eight stages during the campaign but once more are available it is possible to choose which missions to start from, giving the campaign a bit more variety than what is often seen in vertical shooters. Although branching stories aren’t the most unique way to add variety to a game, this time around it works as a great way to add replayability to a game that, without it, can see the credits roll a little over an hour after starting the first stage.

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As far as the gameplay is concerned, Raiden V doesn’t really add anything new to the franchise. Although it must be said that the gameplay is indeed by no means dull in anyway, with enemies a constant threat throughout a stage until completion, there doesn’t seem to be much added to improve on what has been seen in recent series entries. With that in mind, most of what seems to be on offer can only be described as mediocre at best.

The first and most noticeable issue with the gameplay is the flawed design. Whilst the current set-up does work, it doesn’t work well. You see, after choosing the craft of choice and the weapons to go alongside it, players are thrust into a fast paced action battle. But it is not quite as good as it sounds. You are only given a third of the screen to play in, this being the centre of the screen, with the left and right sides seemingly taken up by clustered boxes showing various bits of information, such as the dialogue from the story transmissions as well as weapon levels and the highly disruptive cheer system that is in place. Oh, there are some pointless graphs too.

Worse still is that the information on show isn’t exactly made for easy viewing. Whilst true that the boxes take up the parts of the screen that would benefit better from an extended playing area, the content within each area appears so small that I found myself moving much closer to my TV than was comfortable, just simply to read any of it. The story dialogue was the hardest part to focus on and given that this was arguably the most important box on the screen, it wasn’t long before I found myself replaying missions simply to read the parts I had missed. The box simply offers a script of the conversation of the characters in game, and with the presence of an over the top soundtrack constantly bombarding any sense of hearing the player has, it becomes the only real chance of actually following what is going on.

Another odd game mechanic in play is the cheer system which has annoyingly been introduced to yet again take up a vastly unnecessary area of the screen. This is the only real multiplayer/network function available within Raiden V; however it is by no means a traditional multiplayer option with the only thing on offer being moral support! When certain milestones are reached a pop up will appear in the cheer info box at the top left of the screen to alert players of what others are achieving. With the ability to acknowledge these milestones being available in the form of a cheer given to the player, but with nothing else on offer, it seems MOSS have simply passed up the opportunity to add what could be seen as a much more ideal online function with an integrated co-op feature. The current option offers up nothing more than a moral boosting experience and it is fair to say that Raiden V’s online capabilities are nothing more than uninspiring.

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As far as extra content goes, again Raiden V doesn’t have too much on offer. There is one noticeable addition and that comes in the form of ‘Boss Missions’. Available from the main menu, these offer a different number of boss battle missions within them. Accessing each of these stages however is something that only the best Raiden players will achieve with most being locked and requiring some stupidly high scores on each story mission in order to acquire the coveted A-rank before becoming unlocked for play. With later boss missions requiring even more pre-requisites to be filled before an attempt can be made on taking them down, it is far and beyond someone of my skill level. Of course though, for those gifted with great reactions and lighting fast vision, this could be seen as simply a slightly more challenging way of playing the game. These missions are even harder because of an imposed time limit and weapon restrictions, and with the mission being failed should an enemy not be killed in a quick enough time, they require a huge skill set and knowledge of where the enemy is going to be before they have got there.

Overall, Raiden V isn’t a terrible game and for fans of vertical scrolling shooters, it must be said that it offers a vibrant and colourful glimpse into what can be achieved from a scrolling shooter, however with a £40 price tag there simply isn’t enough content on offer to keep players coming back for more and. With only two game modes and one proving near impossible, unless you’re a veteran of the genre, the quality on offer simply isn’t good enough to justify a triple-A price tag.

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