Raiden IV: OverKill (PlayStation 3) Review

By Matteo Carlarino 28.08.2014

Review for Raiden IV: OverKill on PlayStation 3

Straight from 2007 arcades and the Xbox 360 exclusive game library, the long awaited and port-begged Raiden IV: OverKill has finally landed on Western PS3s - with a bunch of extra contents, too - thanks to MOSS Ltd. and UFO Interactive. Whilst it won't probably seduce the most hardcore bullet-hell fanatics out there, it still remains pure heaven for those who are looking for a classic, old-school shoot 'em up.

As with many other games in this genre, Raiden IV: OverKill cuts all the narrative frills and throws players right into the action; there's simply a very brief CG intro about the story of… Pilot Red and Blue against whichever hostile comes down from the top of the screen. On the bright side, the main menu is packed with different game modes, which compensates the somewhat barebones presentation. It's worth noting that this PS3 edition of Raiden IV comes with local multiplayer only and all the DLCs available for the original Xbox 360 game, including a new fairy ship plus a few bonus features.

Other than Arcade, Score Attack and World Rankings - all pretty much self-explanatory - there are also an Additional Mode with two extra missions added to the original five; a Replay & Gallery to check out all the different vehicles' 3D models; and the OverKill Mode, which consists of seven stages per loop and two loops in total, with the introduction of the OverKill System. Once destroyed, middle- and large-sized enemies drop medals; if the player keeps shooting at their carcasses during this destruction phase, the OverKill gauge rises and the medals' levels go up, as well, resulting in a higher score.

As a vertical shoot 'em up, Raiden IV: OverKill is pretty straightforward, with no particular gimmick to get used to; it's all about reflexes and survival instinct, since enemy bullets travel way faster than the player's ship does. Like its own predecessors, it's an easy game to pick up and play, but that gets insanely challenging when it comes to stepping it up from decent to good performances. In this regard, there are plenty of play styles to practise with in order to learn enemy patterns or familiarise with boss attacks: multiple difficulty settings, a very useful unlockable Boss Rush Mode, and even the option to control both multiplayer aircrafts at the same time with one controller.

Screenshot for Raiden IV: OverKill on PlayStation 3

The arsenal and the power-up system are equally basic. All three signature weapons - including the vicious proton whip - make a comeback in OverKill, and each one can be upgraded and combined with missile sidekicks and smart bombs. It's up to the player whether to aim for big points and keep one single shot throughout the whole game, or just go with switching them to max out the firepower in a specific area or against certain bosses. Either way, the overall experience is wonderfully satisfying.

There are shooters that fall victim to their own convoluted mechanics, ending up in 'love it or hate it' territory, while others just feel plain uninspired and get overlooked or ignored. The Raiden series is still kicking after more than two decades, though, and it's easy to understand why. Even if almost rudimentary at its core, OverKill flows at such a smooth and engrossing pace that it can keep the player mesmerised for hours, only to assimilate a couple of new stages. It doesn't do anything revolutionary, but it gets the job done extraordinarily well.

It's a benchmark that puts observation and reaction skills to the test like few other games, as it literally never stops tossing out stuff to destroy, to dodge and to collect; what is seemingly too hectic at first, becomes clearer the next time. Chaos turns into rhythm as each enemy ship or bullet is where it is for a reason. Unlike Raiden III, Overkill's controls feel perfectly tight and responsive, which is a blessing for a game that requires to be in constant motion. No matter how frustrating it can be to lose the last life just before hitting the high-score, it only gets unfair on very rare occasions.

As solid and finely tuned as it comes, the game still has a couple of minor flaws that prevent it from touching absolute perfection. Something about the series' traditional visual clarity has been lost in this instalment. Maybe it's the use of detailed 3D graphics instead of crisp 2D sprites; maybe it's the overwhelming amount of moving objects on screen… The point is, sometimes it's genuinely too hard to keep track of the ship, especially in OverKill Mode, with the result of many cheap deaths. Also, the quality of the game's content doesn't bring any real quantity to the table; with its seven stages and three characters to select, Raiden IV: OverKill feels a bit weak in terms of variety.

Screenshot for Raiden IV: OverKill on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

It may not be the most streamlined shoot 'em up on the market and it surely could have used more actual content, but not only does Raiden IV: OverKill do justice to its prominent lineage, it also turns out to be a compelling, electrifying joyride, which comes heavily recommended.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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