"It's. . ."
the first Sony shooter, Philosoma. Actually the title "Deja-vu" might have been more appropriate. I thought I was in for Silpheed 2 or something similar, but it turned out to be more like ThunderForce 4. This was a very solid game, don't get me wrong. The story line is average for the genre, with some mysterious space force wiping out the planet, and your Galant squadron as the last line of defense (oh, that's original) against this horrible threat.
Realistically, shooters are a dying breed (Sorry if you're a fan, but face the facts). They once flourished, the way 2-D v.s. fighers did a year and a half ago. This shooter might have started the re-emergence of this kind of game, but. . .
To start, the gameplay is very good and the programmers tried to do something that hadn't really been tried before with a shooter. They implemented four different views of fighting: the overhead, side scrolling, in front of the plane, and in back of the plane. These last two views take a while to get used to, but are decent aspects of the game. Instead of these fixed views, I think they should have used a radar system, with on-the-fly camera switching, which would have made this game really fun. They also should have opened the game up more, since there are no continue points, and when you die, you must restart at the beginning of each level (which can be very frustrating when reaching new parts of the game). They would have been better off implementing choices or pathways controlling which direction you wanted the story to go, like Darius Gaiden, or least make the other fighters' actions random so the game wouldn't be so repetitive. The repetitiveness is a recurring problem (little joke) and I usually don't like using codes, but, I madly searched for a couple to this game (to no avail).
Your plane is blessed with four types of weapons: the standard Vulcan, the laser, A-break (it's virtually useless), and the Ray-B (shoots behind you), and a Buster Grenade (standard 'blow-up-every-enemy-on-the-screen' bomb). There are 3 power-up levels on each weapon, except for the Buster Grenade (it's a bomb), and additional missile power-ups (the homing ones are really nice). The Vulcan is the overall best weapon, but the laser at full power is nearly impossible to stop. However the laser is pretty useless on level one power because the pace of the game is too fast for it. The Ray-B is useless other than in the "behind the plane attack view" and I wonder if they made that weapon for that view, or the view for that weapon. My only complaint about the Buster Grenade is that it's not strong on bosses, but it's perfect during regular combat.
The pace of the game is good, though variable speeds, like in Gaiares, would have been a big help. Enemies do fancy little fly-bys and suicide manuevers, and what not, but it's never too much too handle, although there is the occasional cheap hit. Because of the lack of continues, this game should have had more 1-ups and shield power-ups (I only encountered a 1-up once the entire time I played the game, although you get one every 100,000 points or so, which isn't too bad ).
The part that's really a trip on this game is the graphics. You would expect "amazing polygon 3-D graphics" from a "landmark" Sony game, especially a shooter, but it wasn't meant to be. The graphics would be pretty average for 16-bit graphics, much less 32-bit. While they tried to use some degree of texturing on stages using the in-front, and behind-the-plane views, the colors were bland and the backgrouds were not well drawn. Level 2's background looks like fingerpainting and the overall look is very 2-D. What makes this worse is that the cinemas are, in a word -- amazing. They follow the plot like it was a real movie. There is even an option that lets you see all the cinemas together as a movie (it's actually nice, though a bit choppy) as you progress through the levels. Unfortuantely when you see the cinema zoom right into the game, and see the graphics, you almost want cry, because the dropoff is sooo dramatic. I would have rather seen them drop 3 levels off this game if they had to, just to be able to make those kind of graphics playable. Maybe next time...
If you are still addicted to the lost shooting relics of another age, or just an average shooting fan, this game will definitely serve your purpose. I guess I should recommend this, because it is the best shooter, by virtue of default (I wouldn't even count Viewpoint). But buy it at a liquidation sale for cheap, because there are more quality shooters out there, like Gaiares, ThunderForce, Mega Space Force, Axelay, Starfox, Silpheed, Centipede (OK, so I'm stretching it a little. . .).