The creators of Panzer Dragoon and Space Channel 5 have struck gold! Incorporating worlds of each, the development studio, formerly known as AM9, has done it! United Game Artists have created Rez. A rail-shooter that is like no other videogame out there. In my book, this bad boy resides as the standout game among the music and rhythm genre. It currently includes the most innovative gameplay features, which relates your actions to the beath of the tunes. While games like Dance Dance Revolution and Parappa just encourage you to play "Simon Says", Rez truly shines with it's fantastic innovation leading the pack of other music titles, and presenting itself with nothing but brilliance in videogaming.
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. The screen is full of cool little special effects, and the visuals create a feeling of retro-gaming euphoria (Asteroids), while at the same time retaining the coveted awe factor. Perhaps screenshots and motion can best describe what Rez looks like. It's a psycadelic experience that the eyes will feast on, simple as that.
As unusual as it sounds, Rez is actually backed up by a story. The description is as follows: "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 10 different layers that when completed, will bring together their respective tune in its entirety. In the beginning of each stage, you start out in a world that's pretty much mute, as ambiance is only present. Upon encountering and shooting down necessary targets, little by little the music begins to form. Talk about interactivity! So for every enemy you shoot down, it'll gradually build the song, until you finish all 10 layers. 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. You can upgrade your hovering virus destroying specimen by shooting at power orbs. Fill up the level meter and your character will get enhanced a level. 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!
The audio in Rez is simply sensational! As I progressed in the stages, and the beat got even livelier, I began to bounce with the beat, which basically meant I was immersed. The sound was really involving, as it directly relates to the gameplay and even the controls. Rez is an unexplainable hybrid of the best you can imagine. The controls pulsate to the beat of the tune, and the force feedback is rock solid! The character is able to lock on to multiple targets (maximum of 8) and release an attack to take care of them all.
Granted, this review is pretty short and right to the point, but replay wise Rez holds up very well. 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, Rez is really worth every penny. Final word: Rez is a lush, exciting, addictive, and best of all innovative! Pick up Rez, you only owe it to yourself to do so.
1/9/2002 Arnold Katayev