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Amplitude (PlayStation 2)

83
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.5
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Searly (30)
Written on  :  Aug 18, 2005
Rating  :  4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars4.75 Stars

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Summary

The most competent rhythm action title I know.

The Good

This game has a lot to like about it. First of all, the presentation is near-flawless. The game looks fantastic, with a fluid frame rate, some impressive pyrotechnics and a stunning style. But it's sonically that the game comes into it's own. The soundtrack is not only a lot bigger than many rival titles like Gitaroo Man, but also features some fantastic tracks, from big names like Pink, Blink 182 and David Bowie through to lesser known acts like Freezepop and Mekon. There's something about the game that just makes you feel that you're connected to the music, an impossible to describe sensation that never feels less than fantastic. Also, the game lasts a lot longer than many of it's rhythm action peers. I've already mentioned the large amount of tracks, but it's also worth noting that there are four difficulty levels, with the harder ones providing a serious challenge, although it somehow never feels unfair. Gamers are encouraged to step to the challenge by difficulty-specific songs. Plus, the game has a wonderful multiplayer function, offering a version of the single player mode for up to four players via multitap as well as the new 'duel' mode. This mode puts two players against each other, taking to turns to drop tracks and blast their opponent's, sort of like a musical version follow the leader. It sounds confusing, but plays fantastically well. The game is also online compatible, although finding a partner can be a serious challenge. A separate game mode increases the game's lifespan even further: remix. Playable by yourself or in multiplayer mode, the mode allows you to edit the game's tracks to your heart's content. Don't like that guitar solo? Miss it out. Got a better baseline? Put it in. Want to make that vocal louder? Put a chorus effect on. Although more limited than it seems at first, remix mode is great fun. A final mention must go to the Freqs. You have one of these little guys are your avatar, and you'll see him or her jamming away as you pull off that guitar riff, or singing into a microphone as you blast that vocal to pieces. Although there are presets, the fun is designing and customizing yours, right down to a surprisingly sophisticated colour editor. And unlocking new parts for them makes the single player mode truly rewarding.

The Bad

I loved the music for the most part. But, it's very much down to personal taste, and I found songs I couldn't stand at first, although I warmed to many over time. But, you only have to play through them once. Fans of dance music may wish to try Frequency, this game's prequel, first though, as the soundtrack is more club-friendly. My other point is that the game can be very hard to get to grips with. At first the control system (described below) is a nightmare, and although the game offers alternatives of the 'shape' buttons these are no help as the game becomes too hard for one thumb before long.

The Bottom Line

Describing Amplitude is a challenge, as it sounds far more complex than it turns out to be. The game has you piloting a ship-type object (it has a silly name, and is supposedly the 'instrument of the future!') down a road which represents a song. The road is split into tracks, which represent the different parts of the song. For instance, a track may have a guitar lane, a vocal lane and a drum lane. Moving between lanes or 'tracks' with the left and right buttons on the d-pad, you blast notes as they reach your ship with a touch of L1, R1 and R2 depending on the note pitch, represented by how far along the lane the note is horizontally. After two bars of note-blasting, the track becomes 'activated', playing itself for a while so you can move to the next track and activate that, until you have the whole song playing. Extra twists are added in the form of power-ups and 'streaks'. The power-ups are deployed with X and range in usefulness. Some, such as the score doubler and autoblaster, which automatically activates a track for you, are great. My favourite is the freestyler, which puts the player above the track, temporarily fully activated, while you use a range of instruments, frequently a DJ-style deck, to gain points rather than activating tracks. However, some power-ups are just annoying, particularly the slo-mo, which reduces track tempo. I found this a nightmare to adjust to, and ignored it after my first try. Streaks, or combos to you or me, are a more successful addition. After activating a track, if you can move to another and start activating before the start of the next bar you'll receive a bonus, which rises to multiplying your score by eight. These streaks are the key to a high score, and trying to have a streak which lasts a whole song is a fantastic challenge. Overall, Amplitude is the most competent and fun rhythm action title I can think of, and remains one of the best games this generation.