Silpheed PS2 Review

Silpheed is probably familiar to most gamers on the Sega CD. The intense faux polygon backdrops, simply shocking at the time, covered up some rather generic gameplay. While still a nice shooter, it hardly did anything to change or move the genre ahead. This latest edition on the PS2 does pretty much the same thing, this time with impressive results.

Silpheed puts players in control of a powerful little ship, taking on alien life forms with the ability to take control over other machines. Wingmen chat throughout the entire game, spouting off warnings and adding to a surprising sci-fi plot. Sadly, they never join in on the shooting action. There are no power-ups during the stages for your weapons so you can concentrate solely on dodging the firepower of your adversaries. In almost all six stages, you'll have a large ship come down to "refuel" your own, adding to your shields and allowing you to switch weapons.

Scoring is unique in that you'll garner more points the closer you are to the enemy when you shoot them down. You can quickly rack up a massive score by blasting your enemies when your right on top of them, giving you upwards of 16 times the points you would have from a distance. Doing so is of course not that easy and it will take a load of practice before you can grasp it easily.

The games biggest downfall is that most of the weapons are entirely useless. Two are equipped before each stage, one for each side of your ship. They look pretty with some insane lighting effects, but putting them to good use is an impossible task. Sticking with the standard vulcan given to you at the beginning of the game is will give you a better shot at victory than with some of the new ones added at the end of each stage. Worse yet, you'll have no idea as to what the weapon will do until you begin the stage. Once you've made the choice, your stuck with it until either a refueling point shows up or the end of the stage. The instruction booklet offers up brief descriptions of the first half dozen, but these hardy help and you're completely on your own for the final three.

The game's six stages are gorgeous, showcasing massive battleships, destroyed cityscapes, and some nice outer space segments. Most of the textures tend to repeat themselves and the PS2's infamous "jaggies" are apparent throughout. These don't detract from the superbly modeled backdrops, however. One of the bosses is bound to go down in history as one of the coolest designs ever as well: There are some on-par CG cinemas in between stages to beef up the storyline. Stage design is an issue as one of them is only a rehash of all the previous mini-boss battles. With such a small number of levels, this is a disappointment.

The music here isn't as memorable as the first games, though the outstanding boss theme has been remixed and included with tremendous results. You're bound to be humming it long after a play session, probably while playing other games. There are no laser/bullet firing sound effects thankfully which keeps the annoyance factor low. The explosions of the bosses produce a tremendous bass effect, one that you'll feel every time they go down.

This is more than an old-school shooter dressed in new clothes. The enemies fire off a lot of bullets, but unlike many other modern shooters, it's all possible to dodge without some sort of bullet-destroying weapon (though some bullets can be shot down here admittedly). If the new style is more your flavor, then you very well may look down on this semi-sequel as too simplistic. If you prefer your shooters to place success solely on your dodging skills, then Silpheed fits.

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