Like the previous titles, you can pick up red, blue and purple badges to upgrade and change your weapons. Picking up consecutive badges of the same color increases that weapons power, and switching to a different color changes weapon equal to your current power level. There's also additional power-ups for missiles, these can be upgraded as well by picking up the same letter to your corresponding missile type. While out of the box there's only one ship to choose, there are two additional ships to purchase on Xbox Live for 80 points each. There are a few differences between them, the Raiden MKII offers a stronger more direct bomb while the Fairy is incredibly agile and offers completely unique weapons. Honestly, after using her I felt the default ship was simply to slow and sluggish, it's a shame though you are forced to pay for her.
Overall I think most fans of SHMUPs will find an enjoyable experience here, especially in co-op. There were plenty of times we had "fist bump" style moments as we narrowly dodged a hail of bullets, yelled at each other to slam the B button and launch bombs at a boss, and cursed at each other when we accidentally picked up a weapon upgrade they've been waiting for. I was slightly disappointed to find there weren't any co-op specific achievements, and most of the ones there aren't even achievable in co-op. For a game who's foundation is set in it, it simply seemed odd that we weren't given other goals to go for other than simply a "high score." Speaking of which, score is still individual - there's no co-op high score.
While Raiden IV doesn't veer far from the familiar formula, it does bring the series into the modern age in terms of graphics. With an amped up difficulty curve, it'll be a while to master the game, and there's plenty of game modes to keep you busy. The online leaderboards with downloadable replays are always a nice touch, but really end up making you just feel inadequate against the competition. As with the rest of the series the game is designed for co-op play, and it's best enjoyed that way.
The Co-Op Experience: Team up with a fellow fighter pilot as you collect powerups and dodge bullets in this traditional top down vertical shooter.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.