There are a few things going on with the Shadow Operations Unit DLC. The first thing is the dozen new ships in game. Each ship has three missions to complete. These missions are things like destroy 100 scout ships, get 1 million points in a single track on a single life. Accumulate 10 million points using the ship, losing 1 million points every death. Complete a track on insane difficulty. It adds new depth and new goals for the game other than just stay alive. These missions are difficult, making the DLC geared more for the players that want the challenge.
For the most part they control the same as the original with some different weights and laser angles. The standard ship has always controlled perfectly fine with the ability to stop on a dime. When upgraded it has three narrow front lasers and one angled at each side. I won’t go into every ship. A few need to be unlocked from the start of the DLC. These ships all have their pros and cons to make them balanced so no one dominates multiplayer or anything like that.
The Razorburn ship has a powerful single beam, but it is slippery. It doesn’t stop on a dime like the original. The Dragon ship has three wide array beams to the front and one angled on each side. It controls slightly heavier. Dragon Fire has three powerful widely spaced forward lasers, but that’s it. The downfall is that its a painfully slow compared to the others. The Slick ship has its lasers angled inward with two powerful beams and standard beams. With the inward angle it makes it more of a close range ship. To make things more interesting, you only pilot the ship. The computer has control over the guns. It makes me worry, even if it has better accuracy than I would and its very responsive. Star Runner is a similar ship when it comes to the laser design, two powerful inward angled lasers, but the angled beams point outward and inward. The computer controls the shooting with this ship, but it feels slower to react, as if its targeting where the ship was. Its fine when you get in front of enemies. The Speedy has three angled beams out of each side and three forward forward beams. The real downside is when your ship starts a level it only has two angled beams, no forward beams.
There is now workshop integration so you can play with other people’s ships. If you want to pilot an anime maid, go for it. If you want to pilot Vic Viper from Gradius, its probably in the workshop. Each of these ships have their own missions too. Made by fans. I piloted the Heavy Weapons Guy in space who has a single wide angled spray on a mission to kill 200 scouts in a single life.
The new ships add a lot of variety the original game didn’t have. The missions while different offer goals and objectives as difficult as they may be to achieve. Its just another reason to play an already great game that belongs in arcades. It all goes to your rank. Each ship has a leader board.