Review: Rez HD
Rock is sponge.
Oh this’ll be fun. If there is one thing harder than describing Rez, it’s describing the appeal of it. Whilst it’s not as divisive as something like Space Giraffe (which is fantastic in case you missed our review) it still has it’s fair share of detractors. But then you can’t account for taste otherwise Marti Pellow’s head would be stuck on a spike on Hadrian’s Wall as a warning to the Scottish to not send any more fucking shit musicians over to England. But no… we got Travis. Fuck us for missing that trick.
Where was I? Oh yes, ranting like a prick. Anyway back to Rez. Well most of you will know that Rez originally arrived on the Dreamcast (and, less importantly, the PS2 back) back in 2001 just as Sega’s sweet, sweet box of loveliness was becoming about as commercially viable as… well… the PS3 and whilst it was unique, lovely and iconic it was just far too niche to save the machine from joining the Jaguar, 3DO and CD32 in Console Heaven.
It was a fantastic game though which is why it can command prices of £35+ on eBay some seven years after release. Even if those copies are bought by obsessives who leave it factory-sealed just in case it gets splashed when they are masturbating to some girl out of Final Fantasy VII or something.
So now Rez is here and at a very reasonable 800MSP which is quite miraculous considering that old Tetsuya Mizuguchi usually thinks nothing of fleecing the good customer base on XBLA (see Lumines) and to be honest I’d pay stupid fucking money (see Shivering Isles) to play Rez again. Especially when it’s got HD after the title because the old Dreamcast version looks a bit PS2ish on LCD screens./p>
Before I get into the gameplay mechanics and audio on this game let’s get the visuals done and dusted. Fuck me. They look beautiful. Rez’s clean and crisp vector graphics and colourful lightsynthy visuals look better than ever. Bold, beautiful and sophisticated without any of the eye-strain of other XBLA titles. Old Tetsy has included a standard def mode for televisually challenged amongst you but in lovely widescreen hi-definition this game looks so good it makes me want to be a better man.
Right, excuse me whilst I sound like a prick. Rez’s main trick is blend sensory inputs so that the player becomes, for want of a much better word, synchronised with the rhythm of the game. The visuals pulsate with the beat of the music, the actions of the player create sound effects that tie in with the melody and up four pads (including the one you play with) can be set to vibrate for all sorts of kinky fun you pervert.
Whilst the visuals in this game really cannot be overstated, this game’s strong suit is the music. Perfectly crafted electronica mixed with tasteful sound effects are what people remember most about Rez and this version lovingly recreates all of that without taking any liberties at all. Level five’s music is particularly lovely and a far cry from the chavvy techno of Geometry Wars and the like.
Indeed, the music is so essential to the playing experience that people often make the mistake of calling Rez a rhythm action title which it isn’t. It’s just an on-rails shooter like Panzer Dragoon or Space Harrier but with the slightly odd game mechanic of shooting by releasing the firebutton (after locking onto up to eight targets with your cursor). Presentation aside, there isn’t much else particularly revolutionary about Rez but to concentrate on the gameplay mechanics alone is to miss what makes the game special.
Having never played this before (I only got my first DC last year and never fancied the look of it on the PS2) I always expected this to be some sort of rhythm action game with Utah Saints graphics and a dreadful gabba soundtrack but stone me has to be possibly the best action shooter on XBL with the exception of the frequently overlooked Assault Heroes.
Putting aside the ‘plot’ of hacking a computer network this works as a straight ‘into the screen’ type shooter e.g. Space Harrier or Afterburner and is the best example of this sub-genre of shooter since Panzer Dragoon and plays just as well with the choice to hammer the shoot button or lock on to several targets before unleashing your attack to rack up huge scores and try and beat your mates on the hi-score table. With only five levels it won’t last you forever but with the hi-score tables and a handy score attack mode you won’t mind replaying them over to try and nail the multipliers or milk those huge bosses for extra points.
I won’t waste space saying how it looks (great) or sounds (amazing) all you need to know is if you’re a ‘games as art’ type Rez is up there with the best of them or if you just want a solid shooter to thrash for half and hour you can do a lot worse for 800 M$ points.
Secondary Score: 9/10
Like any good game, Rez rewards your progress with better levels, new and exciting enemies, stunning bosses (particularly on level four) and great music. By the end of the game most players are having to remember to pick their jaws off the ground. This game at times is just downright stunning.
However, being as objective as possible with most of the enemies not exactly posing a threat and merely being points fodder (at least in score-attack mode) it is fairly easy to breeze through this game slowing down only to deal with the bosses which provide most of this game’s challenge. That said, the game pretty much acknowledges this with a mode where you just travel through the game with all the danger completely removed. This, like Tetsy’s other XBLA shooter Every Extend Extra Extreme, is more about chilling out than mindless violence however unlike E4 it’s not a bag of shit.
If you’re easily bored and have no love of beauty or good music then I’m sorry you’ve had to drag yourself away from COD4 long enough to read this. However, if you’ve fired up the demo and gone ‘what the hell is this cack?’ well then you need to reconsider. Fire it up again, shoot those blue boxes eight times (to level up the music and visuals) and get through that first level. You don’t want to miss what happens later. Rez is a treat and getting the definitive version of it for six quid on XBLA is probably the bargain of this generation.
Rez is back looking better than ever and in a handy downloadable package. It’s like finding your fat ex has slimmed down and removed that awful skinhead tattoo from her forehead (boy meets nazi, the classic lovestory). Unlike other XBLA games this is one to keep coming back to. Maybe to finally get 100% shootdown on level five or maybe just for the trip and the sheer joy of playing a true cult classic. XBLA you’re in our good books again.