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The stage format has the same horizontally aligned orientation of previous games and only stretch to the size of a TV screen as in Thunder Force III. The biggest change in the look of the game is the use of three dimensional polygons to model the game sprites and some of the scenery (instead of the two dimensional sprites in previous games). This change gives the appearance of 3-D objects scrolling against a 2-D backgrounds, which is commonly referred to as a "2.5-D" effect. As in Thunder Force IV, the player can choose the play order of the starting stages, but now only for the first three stages. The same speed gauge from Thunder Force IV is used, and is operated the same way. The only difference between the weapon system of this game from Thunder Force III and IV is that there are no longer any items to enhance the players' default weapons. Instead, they are automatically enhanced at a later point in the game and the enhanced versions become new defaults. All the weapons have appeared in previous Thunder Force games, but a few have been changed radically. The CLAWs (now referred to as CRAWs - Constitutional Ray Art Weapon units) have a few changes from previous games. They still rotate around the player's ship, absorb enemy fire, and act as extra turrets for your weapons, but now a maximum of three CRAWs can be used. In addition, they remain on screen for a finite period of time upon ship destruction, giving the player a chance to recollect them. A new feature in Thunder Force V involving the CRAWs is the use of the "Over Weapon". By pressing the appropriate button, the player's CRAWs will combine with the currently selected weapon to create a more powerful version of that weapon. Over Weapons can only be sustained for a limited period of time by using CRAW energy. As an Over Weapon is used, the CRAW will shrink in size and gradually change color, indicating its energy is being depleted. CRAWs will recharge their energy automatically over time when not being used for firing the Over Weapon. Collecting new CRAWs will replace the player's existing CRAWs if they are depleted. If a CRAW is red, it will be destroyed by the next bullet it absorbs. Graphically, the Sega Saturn version of Thunder Force V is superior, as it features special effects not present in its PlayStation counterpart. A good comparison of the differences can be found in Stage 3 "Human Road", in which some extra graphical touches found in the Saturn game were removed when ported to the PlayStation. The Saturn version also has better sound quality (CDDA) than the PlayStation version (ADPCM). However, the PlayStation version features extra artwork, CG rendered movie sequences, additive BGMs, game modes, and other easter eggs that the Saturn version lacks, and shows less slowdown than the Saturn counterpart.
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