Check any dictionary, and it’ll define ‘Final’ as something along the lines of ‘coming to an end’. This seems something that Japanese companies seem to laugh in the face of: see the upcoming 16th entry of Final Fantasy. It seems Granzella and IREM also don’t know the meaning of the word, as shown by the release of the eponymous R-Type Final 3: Evolved.
Evolution is a Mystery
R-Type, if you’re not familiar, is a long-running Shmup franchise that sees you controlling a ship and trying to take down the grotesque Bydo empire.
Aside from R-Type Tactics 1 and 2 which are due for release later this year, there isn’t a whole lot of obvious story or lore. While there isn’t much story, you can find some slight lore dumps within ship descriptions and in a menu you can access from the beginning of the game. Much like a Soulsborne title, it’s there if you go searching for it, but let’s face it: Shmups don’t need a story at all.
How Long Have We Been Doing This Now?
So what is R-Type Final 3: Evolved? From my understanding gained by looking through available information and from my time with this game and prior titles in the series, it’s somewhat of a sequel mixed with a fully realized version R-Type Final 2. Yes, that’s a confusing description. Please bear with me on this.
R-Type Final 3: Evolved is a horizontal “Shmup” (Shoot ‘Em Up) with a larger emphasis on survival and puzzle solving than that of its bullet hell relatives. You take a ship of your choice, three lives, and a mysterious power that connects to your ship called The Force (no not that one!) and try to see away the parasitic Bydo empire.
R-Type would be a very traditional Shoot ‘Em Up if it wasn’t for “The Force” which really makes the series as a whole. You collect this item and can lock it to either the front or rear of your ship. It absorbs some bullets and can kill smaller popcorn enemies on impact. Doing so will raise your special attack meter, providing you with a massive attack when it reaches 100%.
You can also fire “The Force” off to act independently. What Force you get depends on the ship chosen: they all have different attributes. You can also recall The Force at any time and fly around it to position it at the rear or front if you need a bit more firepower on that side.
As gimmick-laden, as it all sounds, the game is designed around “The Force”. Nothing makes this more apparent than when you take down a boss painfully quickly or navigate a tough section because of expert use of it.
What is Old is New Again
The major additions in Final 3: Evolved are a new set of levels and an online competitive multiplayer mode. This is where pilots aim to get the best score on specifically designed stages. Further additions are planned to come later, such as a social hub and other tweaks.
On top of that, similar to previous titles, its updated visuals and allows players to unlock many playable ships from previous games alongside original creations.
The R-Type Final 3: Evolved route starts uncharacteristically in a tropical island setting, instead of a barren spaceship which seems to house the introduction to every other R-Type game. This is followed by the series staple of fighting a giant ship, only this time is an aircraft carrier. After this opening, you’ll slip even more into series standard territory until the last two stages of the seven stage run where things again get different.
While thematically and visually these latter stages shake things up, there isn’t much new in the way of gimmicks. It becomes quite apparent the goal here was to show off just how impressive the game can look. For newcomers, this route will seem quite interesting and daunting. That said, anyone familiar with the previous game will see that outside of its shiny new coat, it doesn’t do anything that hasn’t previously been done.
Talking of previous titles, this game also includes the full R-Type Final 2. That’s even more stages to test your mettle in! You can also download the “Stage Pack 1” which gives you 7 stages from previous R-Type titles in the “Final 3” too. From the get-go, you’ll have plenty of stages to clear and with the 2nd stage pack likely to follow alongside more DLC, you won’t be left for wanting another R-Type hit for a long time.
In B4 Dark Souls of Shmup
Those familiar with the series will know that R-Type isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Initially, you have 5 difficulties ranging from Practice to R-Typer and even players familiar with the series could do with starting on the easiest to learn the stage layouts and what to expect. The higher difficulties offer ways to tailor the experience through modifiers and tickets you can purchase in the in-game shop. These can make them slightly more forgiving or even more hellish for those of you into masochism.
Customization is the name of the game with R-Type Final 3: Evolved. You can customize everything from the ships to the stage names. Even the title screen can be changed. This allows you to make this your own ideal experience. It’s also an ideal way to help your ship stand out should you want to try and hang in the competitive mode.
It Looked Nice In The Shop!
Visually you can tell the game has had an upgrade with the Unreal 5 Engine. This is clearly shown off in the R-Type Final 3: Evolved story route. While the Final 2 route also runs on this, it’s obvious that Granzella knew to pull out the big guns to show off what they can do with the newer content.
In the initial stage of the new route, it starts with a lovely tropical scene then you’re cruising through a cave admiring all the new lighting and shadow effects while waves crash against the rocks. At it’s best, this game is hands down the best-looking Shoot ‘Em Up that money can buy.
Unfortunately, not all stages are made equal. Some of the weaker textures start to show through the shiny paint and what you’re left with is a front-loaded product in terms of visual fidelity which dries out quickly. Also, some of the effects can really obscure your vision, especially with the special weapons. This has caused some unnecessary deaths, at least in my experience!
The soundtrack is pretty good for the new stages with some lovely ambiance in the more alien-looking areas. There is a fantastic vocal song for the final stage too, which gave me some real Darius vibes. It was a great way to cap out the new soundtrack.
If you have a hankering for a new shoot ’em up on your PlayStation 5 or played Final 2 and just really need 7 new stages and a selection of new customizables then R-Type Final 3: Evolved could be right up your alley. If you played but weren’t really into previous R-Type titles or had your fill with R-Type Final 2, then this is a bit of a tough sell considering it’s not really a sequel but more of an enhanced update.
Confusing nature aside, I had my fun with R-Type Final 3: Evolved, but it didn’t quite do enough for me personally to stick around. After spending countless hours on the previous game, I felt like dipping out quickly after seeing the new stages.
R-TYPE FINAL 3: EVOLVED IS RECOMMENDED
If you would like to see more Shooters, you may be interested in our review of Cotton Fantasy or Radiant Silvergun.
Many thanks go to Reef Entertainment for a PlayStation 5 review code for this title.
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Pride of utopia & greatest thing ever, I found the One Piece, Collected the Dragon Balls & won the Mortal Kombat Tournament in one night, it was quiet for me that night! Follow me on Twitter @powahdunk