United Game Artist is a developer not known by many, notably, only by the hardcore of Sega fans. Previously known as AM9, UGA developed hits such as Sega Rally and the ManxTT series. Just recently, they released their rhythm title called Space Channel 5. To be honest, I didn't quite enjoy this quirky music title that revolves around shooting colored aliens with a character in some pretty skimpy clothing -- that is not to say I didn't like that last inclusion =D. Even though I waved off SC5, when I first heard of and saw Rez I got pretty excited. The concept of Rez is the most unique in a music game ever. It wasn't a variation of 'Simon Says' (Parappa the Rapper), nor was it a tap along title (Dance Dance Revolution); Rez is a funkadelic action-shooter that is at the same time a rhythm game.
Instead of aiming for nothing but technology crunching visuals, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his team of 60 had a goal to create a bright and funky environment, that is cast by vector like wire-frame visuals with flat polygons; all in 3D. While Rez sounds like a simple looking game, its simplicity is in fact what makes it a pretty title. As you progress through the various stages, towards the conclusion of each one, you'll see wire-framed backgrounds based on Indian, Chinese, Egyptian and Mesopotamian designs, something I would've never imagined seeing in my gaming life. Perhaps screenshots and motion can best describe what Rez looks like. It's a psycadelic experience, simple as that.
As unusual as it sounds, Rez is actually backed up by a story. Here's an actual description of the game: the story of Rez takes you deep into the world's computer network, which has recently been updated to handle the overload of information brought by the rapid expansion of the information age. The core of the new network is known as "Eden," an extremely advanced artificial intelligence. Only, Eden is perhaps too brilliant and begins to ponder its own existence and suffers a breakdown. You must take control of the network while you manically search for Eden to bring it back online. The network was built to keep intruders out at all costs, so you'll have to fight off enemies from all sides. To reach the system's core, you'll need to shoot your way through each area and take out its specific firewall (boss) to wipe out that part of the system. By hacking the system, you'll alter the visual output and even take over the music, creating your own rhythms and eye-candy as you dig deeper into the dream-like cyber world. In other words, (picture it my way) one whole giant network has crashed, and you are a virus destroying program that has dove into this corrupted network, in light of finding Eden and bringing it back alive. There will be a couple of stages that you will be required to go through, all complete with 8 different portals that when completed, will bring together the respective tune in its entirety. In the beginning of each stage, you start out in a world that's pretty much mute. Upon encountering and shooting down necessary targets, little by little the music begins to form. Talk about interactivity! What's unique about Rez is that the song will differ in sound, depending on how well you are progressing on a course, not to mention it reaches its climax during the final boss battle. It is highly recommended that gamers with fantastic stereo systems hook their PS2s up and play Rez fairly loud. It's an awesome experience, there's no doubt about it. And the box art kicks serious ass too!
Unfortunately, the Trance Vibrator is an exclusive item in the Japanese market, but thankfully the Dual Shock 2 is able to do an incredible job at making you feel every beat of the track. The game makes great support of the analog sticks, and even has a lock on square (that is actually necessary in order to fire). Rez is expected to be quite a lengthy game too, with secret stages, many modes of gameplay (Score Attack, Beyond Mode, Boss Rush, and Trance Mission) and over 20 features that are waiting to be unlocked. From the extensive time I spent with Rez, I'll leave you all with this: not only is Rez quite possibly the most innovative rhythm game to date, but it's highly addictive as well. Look for Rez to hit store shelves mid-January.