Gaming Today Impressions of Rez HD
Publisher: Q Entertainment
Price: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Category: On-Rails Shooter
ESRB Rating: E (Mild Violence)
Release Date: January 30, 2008
It’s abundantly clear what’s going on when watching someone play Halo or Madden. While the action might become chaotic at times – whether it’s because plasma grenades are blowing vehicles across the level or there’s a pile of guys at the line of scrimmage – it’s still fairly discernable to anyone that might be looking on. With Rez, the first time you play it, you might not know what’s going on. But while the action can be chaotic, there’s a method to the madness. And even though it might seem like Rez is simply a game for those under the influence of one thing or another, there’s a real beauty to the structured chaos the game presents.
Frequently we’ll refer to games as an “experience” that has to be played in order to understand. Rez is the epitome of this gaming enthusiast cliché, as to call it an on-rails shooter would be undermining the music and aesthetics of the game, among other things. At its most basic level, Rez plays out like an extraordinarily simple shooting game. Hold down the A button, highlight your targets, of which there can be up to eight, and release to destroy them. It really is that simple, but there are many layers of depth that the average player is unlikely to ever grasp.
Powerups that can level up your character (providing you with more HP, essentially, so that you can take more hits without hitting the Game Over screen) or provide you with an automated attack that eradicates everything on screen can be collected as you play, but they’re oftentimes difficult to spot between the action.
The end of each stage features what can only be described as an epic boss, each drastically different from one another. Discovering the key to destroying each one is both challenging and rewarding – which is strange to say, given that the fundamental mechanic of holding the A button and firing remains unchanged throughout.
The game’s story might as well not exist; it’s only appearance is in the options menu where you can read about what’s going on. It doesn’t matter though, because the visceral feeling you’ll get from playing the game – especially if you’ve got an HDTV, the lights out, and the sound cranked up – is truly unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. (Unless, of course, you’ve played Rez before, but it’s so much better in HD.)
Whereas many games revolve around the concept of achieving some ultimate goal, Rez is more about the atmosphere as you play. Destroying targets alters the techno soundtrack, particularly if you attack multiple targets at once. It’s this sense of feedback that makes the game truly rewarding, although advancing through the game and the transition from level to level is breathtaking.
On paper, Rez really doesn’t have much to it. Five stages, no multiplayer and few game modes in addition to such a simple game mechanic typically isn’t an equation to a good game. But in the case of Rez, it produces an absolutely phenomenal game; it’s intuitive, yet highly addictive. It’s a special culmination of wonderful visuals, sound, controls and gameplay that’s rarely seen in the games industry.
For the official 1UP Network review, head over to 1UP.