Thankfully, the game never feels cheap or artificially difficult. When you die, it's because you messed up, not that the game used what feels like a dirty trick to cost you a precious life. Even when you die repeatedly, the game is still fun, if nothing else just for the sheer spectacle. Often, levels are quite short, and boss fights appear quite regularly. The bosses are suitably intimidating, and have plenty of firepower, but there's always a way to win; in fact, there are multiple paths to victory. You can plow right through by concentrating your fire on the boss' central core, or instead choose to surgically destroy every piece in order to gain more points. A third option is to merely survive; bosses self-destruct after a given period of time. In essence, there are many ways to play Radiant Silvergun. You can play quick and dirty to "beat the game" as soon as possible, work on stringing color chains and maximizing boss damage to get high scores, or just grind your weapon levels for a bit here and there. This depth is one way in which the game lives up to its legend.
The enhancements for the Xbox Live release are about what you'd expect. The graphics are enhanced with all sorts of digital voodoo, and look stellar. For the grognards who want the authentic experience, the original, pixelly but somewhat more precise display is available. In addition to the arcade and story modes, there are leaderboards for just about everything. Local co-op was a feature of the original, but for this release, online co-op is supported. In my experience playing online, I wasn't impressed. The game runs at a slower pace, and control feels sluggish and laggy. I wouldn't say it is unplayable, but it's certainly not ideal.
When playing in co-op, player two basically copies the progress of player one. Weapon levels, numbers of lives and continues, and other stats are the same for both players when the game begins. I'd have preferred to see these remain unique for each player's save, so one could concentrate on the vulcan weapon, while the other mastered the homing, that sort of thing. A glaring omission is the lack of saving progress in story mode when playing online. There's really no excuse for this; I suspect it was an unavoidable technical limitation of some sort, because it's a feature that pretty much kills online co-op for all but the most skilled players.
For the most part, Radiant Silvergun lives up to the hype. It's one of the best shmups I've ever played (though I think Ikaruga is a hair better), and I'm thrilled to have access to it at last. The sheer spectacle of the action, the weapon leveling system, the stellar soundtrack, and, yes, even the steep difficulty curve all work together to create something special. The puzzling lack of online story mode save games, and the lack of separate progress for player 2, unfortunately mar the otherwise solid co-op experience. It's still a very enjoyable game to play with a partner, even with these limitations, and fans of the genre should not overlook it.
The Co-Op Experience: Radiant Silvergun is considered to be one of the best shoot em ups of all time. Released first in the arcades, it also was available for the Sega Saturn. Ikaruga is a sequel of sorts, and the two games share many characteristics, like bonus points for killing enemies of certain colors in a chain.
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.