The early 2000s was a great time for shmups and we now have a sequel to one of the best from that era with R-Type Final 2.
R-Type is probably my favourite shoot 'em up franchise. Well, it's up there with Darius at least. So, imagine my delight when I saw that R-Type Final 2 was finally coming out. Thankfully, it feels just like R-Type Final with its tight and challenging gameplay, variety of stages, campaign with multiple paths, and massive collection of unlockable ships. Now that I mention challenging gameplay, be warned that R-Type Final 2 is an incredibly tough game so if you lack the patience to learn the ins and outs of its complex stages then you will get overwhelmed with the experience. In fact, even though I'm an R-Type veteran, playing R-Type Final 2 frequently made me firmly grip my controller with frustration at the many surprise deaths and seemingly insurmountable situations that are sprinkled throughout.
Now that we got that out of the way, once you become intimately acquainted with the gameplay and begin to memorize how to work past the trickier segments, playing R-Type Final 2 turns from a maddening exercise into a supremely rewarding experience. Plus, unlocking a ton of ships (there are at least 99) with earned currencies, passwords, and by fulfilling certain criteria allows you to experiment with the gameplay in order to find a ship that fits your play style which will hopefully be enough to give you the winning edge.
Just like with all R-Type games, Final 2 looks and sounds great. For starters, the arcade-like music always fits each stage's mood by striking a balance between the action-packed gameplay and level theme. Meanwhile, the sound effects are spot-on complete with satisfying gunfire blasts and exciting charge-up sounds. With all of that being said, I find that the eerie atmosphere of R-Type Final is much more immersive than the setting of this sequel. Whenever I play that game, I always feel like I'm a lone soldier in a twisted world fending off evil organic matter while slowly losing my sanity. R-Type Final 2 feels a bit sterile in comparison and therefore, less immersive.
Anyway, R-Type Final 2 is the sort of shoot 'em up that you'll play over and over again while unlocking more and more goodies. Once you finish it the first time, you'll want to dive back in right away while trying to discover how to unlock the stages that you didn't get to experience yet. There's also all the ships to acquire, you can practice in Score Attack mode, and there are loads of museum-style items that consist of stats, info on each Bydo enemy type, and gallery images. You can even purchase machine decals and pilot gear to add a sense of personality to your ships and stats screen. Needless to say, unlocking everything will take a very long time for sure.
Finally, I'd like to mention that although I loved my time with R-Type Final 2, it doesn't do anything substantially to set it apart from its predecessor. I wish it had at least one additional gameplay mechanic yet all you do is shoot, unleash charge shots, amass DOSE for a powerful attack, detach your Force, and collect power-ups that change your Force's shot type and such. It's all very familiar stuff.
R-Type Final 2 is an excellent shmup and a worthwhile follow-up to one of the best shooters in the PS2's library. It could have gone a bit further to make it a more fulfilling experience but what's here is wonderful nonetheless.
- + Challenging and familiar gameplay that's super-rewarding to master
- + Detailed environments and great audio
- + Loads of cool ships to unlock
- - Surprise deaths and grueling difficulty will test your patience at times
- - Atmosphere could be more immersive
- - Gameplay plays it a bit too safe