Back in 2001 Sega was on the way out of the console world, because of this Rez originally had a somewhat bizarre release. In Japan it got a full release on both the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2, in Europe it saw the same systems (only with the PS2 version published by Sony and not Sega). Finally, in America, it only saw the PS2 in limited numbers. Limited numbers, because the game was not well received by consumers even though it garnered generally good scores from critics. Gamers weren't that interested in a game combining a trance club and archaic rail shooters.
It's understandable why many people were at first turned off by Rez; its game play when looked at alone is amazingly unremarkable. It is at its core an-on rail shooter, your character moves along a set path through a linear level outside of your control. All you can move is your targeting reticule to aim at enemies. To destroy your enemies you lock onto them (as many as eight and once can be locked onto) and fire. Some enemies shoot slow moving projectiles and some take multiple hits to destroy. There is also an overdrive attack which you gain from floating power ups that temporarily renders you invincible and destroys most small enemies on the screen. Via power-up you can also change forms, which allows you take a few more hits. The game is overwhelming simple, and when played with the normal settings it's rather easy. You can however amp the difficulty up with various visual filters that make the visuals overwhelming, also, boss difficulty depends on how well you did in level that lead up to the boss fight.
Rez on the Dreamcast and PS2 was known for its trippy, unique visual style but it was limited by resolution (the art was somewhat skewed by "jaggies"). The HD face lift however has eliminated these issues and the wonderful and somewhat insane art can fully shine through. In Rez the environments you are drifting through are constructed with wire frames, with each level built around a specific theme (such as ancient Egypt and these level pulse and morph as you progress). The enemies however are polygonal and very creatively designed in a variety of shapes and colors, as you destroy them they fade into wire frames as they fall away, blending into the background. On their own the visuals are trippy and out there, but the game gives you the option of applying various visual filters to the game to perhaps find your own custom trip.
What makes the game incredible is how the game blends the visually tangible game with sound. The base soundtrack is impressive on its own featuring well known (in techno circles) artists such as Ken Ishii and Adam Freeland. Not only does the environment around seem to be constructing around the music but your game play effective adds to and remixes the soundtrack. Everything your character does is translated into music instead of traditional sound beats, such as locking on to a foe, killing that foe, or picking up a power up. Depending on the level for example, each hit could be a drum beat. This works better than other games that attempt to have you influence the music including Tetsuya Mizuguchi's own Lumines series. It works because the somewhat relaxed and zero depth game play allows you to play how you want. If you want to play whole strings of notes, lock onto multiple enemies, or perhaps do only one at a time rapidly hitting the A button increasing the speed of what has more or less become your remix. Go anywhere in between, mix it up, soon you may have found that you are so immersed that creating the beat is subconscious and you are more or less zoned out and entranced by the game.
The beauty of the game is not any particular part, even if the art and music are outstanding. This is because the two rely on each other, and in turn the tag team of audio and visual rely on the simple gameplay being as unobtrusive as possible. Once you get a hold of the game play it becomes second nature and you can allow yourself to zone in to the game and into a sort of synesthesia where the senses all sort of blend into one as the sound, vibration, and graphics pulse and shift in choreographed brilliance. Yes, trance vibrator fans, Q Entertainment has a set up for you out there that need some serious rumble. You can plug in as many as four wired 360 controllers into your 360 to place where ever you want (or on who you want) for extra pulsing feedback.
Of course some gamers are all about the leader board and perfecting their game play. As mentioned before you can target up to eight targets at once, and these act as multipliers. To land perfect runs on each levels requires a quick thumb and lots of pattern memorization. The scores that you get from attempting to utilize multipliers are a great deal larger then scores from a regular play through. For you score attackers out there, the Xbox Live features shouldn't disappoint. There are a slew of different leader boards for users to rank on, and on top of that gamers can select top ranking players best runs and download the video to watch and learn from or just watch and zone out.
Many wouldn't bite on this game on the Dreamcast and PS2 because of the cost. However here on Xbox Live Arcade it is easily worth the 800 Microsoft points ($10) as not only is it just long enough for an arcade game, but also something you can play through again and again to unlock extra content such as levels, extra modes and visual filters that add valuable to content. The only real question you should ask yourself is whether or not you need deep game play. If you don't then you are in for one hell of a ride, I whole heartily recommend Rez to everyone.
Not only is Rez HD unlike anything you've ever played before, but it's also one of the best looking Xbox Live Arcade games you can own. Even if you already own Rez on the PlayStation 2and Dreamcast, this Xbox 360 port is definitely worth checking out. Thanks to its interesting use of multiple controls, fantastic music and replay value, Rez HD is easy to recommend.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!