How many times have you come across a game that was as inimitable as Parappa the Rapper or Dance Dance Revolution? Without a doubt, both titles have graced our venerable Playstation console with much force and dominance. DDR and its dance pad, and Parappa with its wacky cartoon world and lyrics, have shown gamers a sense of originality that is rarely seen of this genre. Music/rhythm games are far and between to say the least, but the quality many of them feature are impressive. Up until just a few days before writing this review, I've always recognized Parappa and DDR as the fame and fortune of the rhythm game world. "Up until" were the key words. Having gotten to play Sony's/Harmonix's newest music title, I can safely say that this game gives a certain paper flat puppy and a certain Japanese originated title a run for their money. The name of this game? Frequency; and no, it isn't even remotely based on the 1999 movie.
As much as visuals are of no concern in music titles, Frequency features a very sleek interface, as well as some really cool background effects. As a stage progresses, you will be making your way through a three-dimensional tube that's an octagon in terms of dimensions. The effects are quite dazzling, but make note; these are not hardware pushing visuals, merely eye-candy for the eyes to devour. The effects are bright, but they never cause a distraction to affect the gameplay. Take a look at the screenshots to see for yourself.
Frequency takes a little adjustment time and there's no doubt about it. But the game is relatively easy to play once you get the hang of it. The octagon tube features 8 portions (walls) to a song. Each song has two guitar walls, bass wall, two drum walls, vocal wall, scratch wall and an axe wall. Each wall of the tube -or tunnel if you will- needs to be completed at least once throughout every segment of a song. And completing a wall doesn't take time; if one green highlighted row of a wall is completed, then that whole wall will be lit up and you will have to move on to the next wall. It sounds complicated on paper, but the game has an extremely user-friendly interface, and a tutorial that will get you playing the game in a matter of minutes.
Don't confuse this game for MTV: Music Generator, these games have nothing in common in terms of gameplay. In MTV you make your own song, but in Frequency you play "Simon says" and activate songs such as Dub Pistols' wicked "Official Chemical" track, that is off of their album titled "Three Million Ways to Live." In addition to the D-Pistols, you've also got tracks by The Crystal Method namely, "Winner" and "Name of the Game." But that's not all; the game features over 25 levels all with their individual track that range everything from Rap to rock to Electronica. A partial line-up of artists for the game includes: DJ Q-Bert, No Doubt, Dub Pistols, Powerman 5000, Paul Oakenfold, The Crystal Method, Juno Reactor, Orbital, and, my favorite, Fear Factory! Make no mistake about it, Frequency is certainly one of the best (if not the best) music titles out there. It's a game that will make us think back to the Parappa days, by creating the most refreshing and inventive rhythm atmosphere to date. As a stage progresses the gamer will also be treated to FMVs of music videos to the corresponding songs. While I generally don't speak of this in reviews, I must mention that Frequency's game manual does an excellent job of explaining everything this game has to offer. Whether it's how to create 'the FreQ your DJ alter ego', remix a song or adjusting effects, refer to the game manual for pretty deep explanations. Unfortunately, the online mode was axed from the retail copy, so Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 will remain to be the only online title for quite some time, but I have reasons to believe that Sony will release an online patch of some sort, a'la Twisted Metal. With five modes, and the ability to play with up to 4 players, Frequency is yet another must have title of the year. Party gamers especially will get a kick out of Frequency!
That 10.0 for the sound says it all doesn't it? Playing Frequency, there's no other feeling that compares to completing a song and hearing it in its entirety. As I mentioned before, writing out Frequency's gameplay makes the game sound tough to get a grip with, but either give it a half hour or go through its tutorial mode and you'll feel at ease with the basics. Sony and Harmonix did an excellent job at handpicking the list of tracks. As stated; you'll hear from hip-hop to rap, to rock and even to electronica. The soundtrack is a fantastic one to listen to, but the songs get unlocked in the play list as you complete them in the game. Basically, all you need to know is that the music is kick azz!
Because the controls don't really play much of a factor in the game -as all you do is pretty much follow a 'Simon says' pattern- allow me to directly skip into the conclusion. After some heavy time spent with the game, I can only say that Frequency is quite possibly the best music and rhythm title since Parappa the Rapper and the Dance Dance Revolution series. Harmonix's title does a great job at creating a new, refreshing atmosphere that is as addictive as it is flashy and fast. Frequency's soundtrack is overall perfection, as the diversity of genres reaches great lengths. While the online mode was axed, Frequency does retain an excellent multi-player mode in which up to four people can take part in. While it doesn't come off as strong as other games this season have, one thing's for sure, Frequency is the best of its pack, and will take a lot to be dethroned. On top of that, it's also one of the best sleeper hits on the PS2. Frequency is a highly recommended product.
12/9/2001 Arnold Katayev