Written by  :  Tomer Gabel (4351)
Written on  :  Jul 28, 2005
Platform  :  PlayStation 2
Rating  :  5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars

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Summary

Absolutely brilliant!

The Good

Rez can hardly be described in words. When I first saw the game in a computer game show called GameOn in Israel (although I've come to understand it's an international show?), I was utterly confused; the game seemed to me like a chaotic collection of vectors with no apparent pattern or intention. Which brings me to the point: Rez is impossible to understand without playing it.

The game is essentially a pretty simple rail shooter, with minimal controls; the variety and uniqueness comes from the perfect blending of senses: sight, hearing and touch. The game makes absolutely no sense when you can't hear it, because it is architected so that the music, sound effects, force feedback joystick and game visuals work and respond in tandem to the player actions. Playing Rez is different every time, because what you (as the player) do is slightly different, and the game responds differently: subtle shifts in the musical patterns, sound effects that match the pattern of the background music, thump patterns on the force feedback joystick. Are you getting the drift? No? Didn't think so - because the game is impossible to explain, and has to be played to be "understood".

The graphics in Rez indeed look chaotic to the casual observer, but are in fact an orderly mess of vectors and lines. Self-proclaimed to be heavily influenced by the works of Russian artist Wasilly Kandinsky (the game is internally called Project-K), the design is a mish-mash of abstract landscapes, random shapes you could easily mistake for '50s SciFi designs and pretty wireframe decorations, all of which give the game a very Tron'ish look.

Sound is as much a hallmark of Rez as graphics: the music is fantastic, something between dance and trance tracks that set the pace for the game. The importance of the music in Rez cannot be overstated: the entire game revolves around feedback between audio, video and player. Some of the tracks in this game are extremely imaginative pieces (particularly Fear by Adam Freeland) and serve to immerse you deeper in already immersive game.

Rez does have a story, but it's very abstract and it isn't immediately obvious what's going on. Combined with the abstract graphics and minimalistic gameplay, this only serves to create an incredibly immersive atmosphere. It is fascinating that, despite the singularly simple and repetitive gamestyle, Rez is never boring and never feels repetitive. The bosses are beautiful to look at and interesting to fight, and the endgame is so... well, interesting that I wasn't even disappointed by the very short and bland ending cutscene.

The game has an incredible variety of extras and unlockable game modes, and it is amazingly challenging in its more advanced mode (I do begrudge it for not being able to defeat the Morollian mode), all of which give it amazing replay value despite its length (more on that later).

Lastly, the Japanese version of Rez came with what must be the most unique game accessory ever, on which I will not elaborate. :-)

The Bad

Rez has just one fundamental issue: it's extremely short. Even in the more difficult Beyond modes, playing it from start to finish takes between 40 and 60 minutes (depending mostly on whether or not you have to replay certain areas, and how long it takes you to defeat the bosses). But, as Penny Arcade puts it, it was the best hour of my life (well, maybe not the best best hour.)

Also, it is incredibly rare; I had to fork $40+shipping for a copy on eBay and considered myself lucky (the going rate at the moment seems to be between $30 and $60).

The Bottom Line

An incredible game which must be experienced, as opposed to seen. Completely unique, absolutely fascinating and amazingly gratifying, this is a must-have.