Review By: J.
Redefined" may only be the game’s tagline, but it’s not
far from wrong. Breathing new life into one of gaming’s oldest
genres, Rez mixes retro looks, techno beats, and high
concept with the tried-and-true staples of the ‘on-rails
shooter’ creating something surprisingly new yet refreshingly
old school in the process. Sega’s United Game Artists,
who developed Rez, also worked on such top sellers as Space
Channel 5 and the Panzer Dragoon series. This time
around they show that they know enough about shooters and music
games to successfully blend the two into one, epilepsy-inducing
in the inner space of a global mainframe, Rez puts you in the
role of a lone hacker as you brake into the network, decrypting
security protocols and fighting off anti-virus programs, on your
journey to the center of the system to prevent its eminent
shut-down. All this after its central AI, by the name of Eden,
has began malfunctioning as a result of questioning the meaning
of her existence. While the story definitely has some
cool-factor, in truth it’s relegated to manual filler, which
is a disappointment considering the room for deep, philosophical
undertones about the meaning of our own existences that could
have run through the game if only a few cut-scenes were present.
The look of
the game is pure retro cyber-chic and could easily double as Tron
2.0. It looks like this game was conceived on an
Etch-a-Sketch while doing ecstasy at an all-night rave.
Everything is constructed of three-dimensional lines, colored
fog, and pulsing lights. Perspectives constantly shift, floors
spontaneously transform into structures, and walls melt into
nothing, lending Rez a sense of unreality that makes it feel
more like an acid trip than a game.
of vector-based wire frames over the photo-realistic, high
polygon graphics seen in today’s ‘next gen’ titles
proclaims a triumph of artist expression over guaranteed
commercial success. Could this mean the UGA might indeed
live up to their pretentious surname? Regardless, this game
definitely earns kudos for Sega and along with titles like Jet
Grind Radio, Ooga Booga, and Samba de Amigo,
helps secure their newfound reputation as the quirky publisher
to watch for the next generation.
a music game at heart, don’t expect Rez to fall into the same
category as Dance, Dance Revolution. This isn’t another
‘Simon Says’ PaRappa clone. The game is very much a shooter,
but it’s soul lays in the player’s ability to transform the
musical landscape by feeding off the frantic nature of the game.
How this is done is by replacing the standard array of shooter
effects like gunshots and explosions with drumbeats and
digitized vocals to rock your speakers. Locking onto a target
might create a drum kick. Shooting down an enemy might get a
high-hat. Clear an entire screen and you’ve just made a song!
has it’s own track that changes throughout its course and a
set of accompanying sound effects created by such artist as
Joujouka, Kenishii, and Mist. Yes, the Kenishii! Ok, I
never heard of him either, but don’t expect anyone outside of
Japan to recognize these artist’s names. The eletronica
soundtrack itself is rather unremarkable; don’t expect to hear
any groundbreaking material like you would from Radiohead
or Nine Inch Nails. The tracks do work as nice background
noise to paint with the cacophony of destruction created
throughout the game, and the production values are about as high
as the come. You’ll want a nice set of speakers to take full
advantage of the dense layers of sounds present in the game.
of the game may be a little complex, but playing Rez couldn’t
be simpler: hold down the X button and drag the cursor
over targets to highlight them, release the X button to
fire. In typical shooter fashion destroying an entire wave of
enemies rewards the player with power-ups, this time in the form
of colored spheres. Blue spheres allow the player to evolve into
"higher states of consciousness" once enough are
collected, and red spheres increase an "Overdrive" bar
that’s used to unleash screen-clearing super moves. Movement
in the game is set on a fixed path, but the player is allowed
150o of camera movement during ‘Infiltration Mode’
and 360o of aiming during boss battles. And be
prepared to use every last degree, during later levels enemies
will come at you from every conceivable angle.
distinct enough to stand out from one another, each with their
own look, style, and set of enemies, plus the boss encounters
are varied and enjoyable. While the main mode is rather short,
clocking in at paltry five levels that can easily be beaten in
one sitting, doing well in those levels can unlock a host of
hidden options, including a few secret levels, ‘remixed’
versions of previous levels with altered tracks and new color
schemes, and probably the best secret in the game, a ‘Direct
Assault’ mode that brings a point system into play. I found
that breaking your high score or getting 100% was enough of a
draw to bring me back to the game time and time again, and the
extreme pace of the harder modes was enough to keep me glued to
my chair for hours.
the short length, bland track list, and invisible story the game
does have a few other flaws worth pointing out. For one the game
has no multi-player modes, which would have done well to
increase replay value and to play off of the competitive nature
of the point-based modes. Second its accompanying peripheral,
the Trance Vibrator, will not be released in North
America. Acting as a force-feedback enhancer, the vibrator is a
wrist pad shaped device that plugs into the PS2’s USB port,
allowing the user to feel much more of the game’s throbbing
beat and pulsing action but placing it somewhere on their
bodies. While not necessary for enjoying the game the device
does add the extra kick that the Dual Shock lacks, turning into
your own personal sub-woofer, and actually making the game a
strength lays in the experience. This is like no other game seen
before. The journey from start to finish may be short, but it’s
an awesome trip. It’s a feast for the eyes as well as the
ears, and one of the most thumb-centric titles released in the
longest time. While fast paced the game has an almost Zen-like
serenity about its chaos, and is so well envisioned it’s easy
to think, "Yes, flying through cyber-space would
look like this". Although the vector look may put off a
few, this is definitely the kind of game you need to play at
least once to call yourself a true gamer. Anyone with an open
mind, a sense of rhythm, and a penchant for shooters should pick
them selves up a copy.
controls allow anyone to pick up and play.
keeps in constant pace with the action, increasing the tempo
as well as the excitement.
are definitely one of a kind.
back to the classic side-scrolling shooters.
amount of unlockable options keeps replay value respectable.
- Very short
story only seen in manual.
- No Trance
Turn off the
lights, crank up the speakers, invite some friends, and enjoy
one of the shortest, sweetest, strangest games released in a
long, long time. Highly recommended.