When I first picked up and played Rez, I was wholly unimpressed. It played like a mix of Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon Zwei (an old Saturn game, if you don’t remember), only without the dragons and big guns. You know what I mean, an on-rails shooter where you must shoot everything before it crashes into you, simple stuff. In fact the control system is identical to Panzer Dragoon, hold the ‘A’ button down and move the cross-hair over the enemies to establish a lock-on, then release the button to unleash a multiple salvo of laser shots. It all seemed very uninspiring, far too dull to warrant another go.
However, two hours later I was back. I played it again. Then again. Finally I was playing it into the wee small hours of the night…. This game grows on you, first impressions mean nothing, this game grows like it has had three tonnes of horse manure thrown onto it overnight. Very strange indeed. Firstly I didn’t know why I had gone back, I put it down to the fact that I had been working far too hard and hadn’t had any alcohol in three days, but, as it turned out though, I went back because I was enjoying the game. Bizarre, why do I like this seemingly uninspired game? Let me explain…
The aim (if there is one at all) of the game in Rez is incredibly simple, if a little weird. It would seem that the boy’s at Sega HQ have been at the Absinth and Pernod again, either that or all of these years of hard work have finally taken their toll on their sanity. You play Rez: a virtual incarnation of a human being trapped inside a computer mainframe, and by shooting the enemies Rez releases musical waves and beats (more on that in a moment). Gradually Rez will transform into pure energy, therefore allowing him/her (not sure which) to release the central AI called Eden and break through the firewall of the virtual super network and escape. Right. Got that? Good, because I didn’t, maybe you could explain it all to me, but it doesn’t matter because this game is not about plot, it’s about the gameplay, the looks and perhaps most importantly, the music.
The music is extremely important to the Rez experience. If you play Rez like a conventional shoot ‘em up you will be very disappointed, with apparent bland music and quickly tiresome gameplay. However, if you put some time into playing the game you will discover strange goings on…. when you fire, Rez emits a ‘clap’ and when you lock on Rez will make a strange ‘shwoosh’ sound, if you start firing and locking on to a rhythm and ‘freestyle’ your destruction of foes to a beat, you will discover the music will improve dramatically, beats will be added, the tempo will go up and, before long, you have a pumping techno soundtrack that any big night-club would be proud of. It’s a fantastic idea and one that works really well for a change.
The graphics in Rez are also something else. They are by no means run of the mill, they remind of a Virtual Boy game; lots of vectors and wire-frames flying around at incredible speed. Cel shading also makes an appearance here, giving a unique look to Rez. The graphics are not groundbreaking in any way, it’s all been done before (granted, it’s all been done before separately, but not together), however they are very stylish, I don’t think that there is any other games out there that looks like this. It’s more art than a game.
The enemies in Rez are your pretty standard multi-legged, many gunned ugly aliens or strange ships and motorcycle styled ‘bots. They all look pretty cool and act pretty mean but they are all easily dispatched by Rez’s laser. It’s the bosses that make waves. They remind me of R-Type bosses or even those out of Nights (another Saturn game), they are huge hulking behemoths that fill the screen and spew laser death at you. Nice. They all have a weak point though, and if you are to succeed you must exploit it fully, they may seem nasty but they are big softies once you find their Achilles’ Heel.
There is also plenty to do once you have completed Rez, which you could do rather quickly, as there is not a great many levels to complete. Tasks such as trying to gain 100% analysis rating, so that you get the best music possible are worth undertaking as the results are as good as any club DJ can muster. There are other ‘secret’ modes but I will leave them for you to discover, need I say how good they are? No. They are quite fun and add at least another couple of nights to the game’s life. Just a shame that there is no real depth… a freestyle music generator mode or something similar could have made this a true winner. Oh well.
So then, Rez is an incredibly original piece of software, it lies somewhere between being a game and a piece of functional art. You should avoid this game if you are looking for a standard shoot ‘em up, there are better examples of the genre out there. Everyone else should give it a go if they want a bit of trippy fun. The lack of true depth knocks the score a tiny bit, but it is still a little gem.
A funky, trippy...