Originally released for the arcade in 1996 by the Taito corporation, Raystorm is the second game in the Ray series following after Rayforce and proceeded by Raycrisis. The game has since been ported on the Sega Saturn in 1996, the PlayStation in 1997 and later a high definition version for the Xbox 360 in 2010. It is the first game in the series to make the jump from the original 2-D graphics to 3-D, and in it's own right was successful in effectively make the graphical transition.
The graphics are very smooth, and the game is one of the rare 3-D titles to still maintain a decent look by today's standards. Even small aspects such as the water effects on the earlier levels were pretty decent at the time, where its translucency nicely displays submerged enemies without awkwardly having that very plastic look. The overall 3-D aspect of the game is very well realised, creating effects such as the parallax effect that allows enemy ships to shift effortlessly from the background and foreground.
The gameplay is also very fast paced and combined with an epic electronic soundtrack and imposing environments, gives the game a level of grit and intensity that lends the game its own unique appeal and style. The presentation and speed can give players quite the adrenaline rush, making the game very addictive. The game also allows two players to play co-operatively, which with a decent team, can effectively half the difficulty of the game.
The response and control of your ship is also very smooth, reacting to your every input instantly. Game mechanics is rarely a problem here and for the most part a player's skill is the only factor in overcoming obstacles.
While Raystorm have tightened its key elements for near flawless gameplay, it suffers from the same big problem that is essentially beset in most games of the shoot em' up genre: the accessibility. The game does not hold any punches and the screen can quickly become overcrowded with enemy projectiles to the point where newer players can easily become overwhelmed.
This is another title that relies on the heavy subscription to the shoot em' up genre, particularly experience. Raystorm demands fast reflexes, understanding your spacecraft's hitbox, memorising which enemy to dispatch first and their firing patterns. The game itself is also surprisingly short, consisting of eight stages that can each take as little as three to five minutes to complete.
The game can be made slightly easier with the use of co-op, however this is not without its drawbacks. In the later levels, the game can suffer from some heavy slowdown from time to time, and co-op can further exacerbate this slowdown in places that can really stall the game's flow.
While the game is quite difficult, the crisp presentation and exhilarating gameplay is captivating enough for players to keep pressing through even the harder elements. Even if you're not an expert of the genre, it's definitely worth a look.Read more ›