February 7, 2002
Rez - Review
Release Date Publisher Developer Players Rating Price
22/2/2002SegaUnited Game Artists1G8+$99.95
Online Gameplay Difficulty Save Size Vibration 60Hz 50Hz Border

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The first level boss in the game.
One of the saddest things about the games industry today is the lack of original games. Publishers want to know that the money they invest will return a profit, or at the very least, recoup the development costs. Many developers have had their hands tied by large publishers wanting licensed games, sequels or re-hashes of successful games. This has often turned great developers into shadows of their former selves. Just look at the former giants Westwood and Origin to see what I mean. It is rare then to see a company, in this case United Game Artists, develop a game that is not only quite different from what appeals to the "mass market" but is also quite the opposite of what publishers would look at releasing.

The demise of Sega and the splitting up of it's development teams into separate companies has resulted in some "less conventional" games such as Space Channel 5 (also United Game Artists), Jet Set Radio and this game, Rez. All of these games have been massive successes critically, but not commercially thanks to the demise of the Dreamcast. Now the games are headed to other consoles where success should be more possible.

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Check out the gorgeous explosions.
Rez has been described as a "Synaesthesia" game. It blends the action on screen with some gorgeous visuals and some spectacular music. But more on the games aesthetics later. Rez can best be described as a shooter similar to the legendary Space Harrier or Star Fox. For the most part your character is travelling into the screen with enemies approaching from ahead or behind. The game includes a targeting box and, while holding down the X button, you can target up to 8 enemies at once before firing. When the enemies explode it's not with a loud "boom" as you would expect but rather some music effects which blends into the background music. As you progress through each of the five levels the music picks up-tempo to accompany the increasingly frantic action. Don't be too put off by the lack of levels in the game, there is plenty more to unlock and you'll have absolutely no hesitation in having another go to beat your high score, or just chill out to the visuals and music.

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Most of the levels are wireframes.
As a game in it's own right there is very little to complain about. The difficulty increases at a steady rate with more and more enemies, and more hits required to destroy them. You can also pick up icons which help build your strength. The main character has 6 power levels in total. If you collect enough power ups you move up a level. If you get hit by an enemy you move down. If you get hit while in the lowest power level it's game over. The boss encounters are usually very frantic. The level 4 boss is particularly demanding as he is made up of hundreds of cubes which must be destroyed before you actually do any damage to him.

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Rez is full of stunning lighting.
One of the most striking things about this game is the visuals which United Game Artists have decided to use. The games levels are mostly wire frame based, but have a complete life of their own. The enemies as well as your character pulse to the beat of the music while the explosions look more like fireworks. The game runs at a fairly solid 60fps with only the very occasional moment of slowdown. Considering the hundreds of targets on screens at once it's a magnificent achievement.

Now we move on to the crowning achievement in this game, the sound. This game isn't filled with the typical action game styled sounds. There are no big meaty explosions, no laser blasts or machine gun fire. Your weapon is more of a clapping sound while the explosions blend in with the music like another layer of sound. However, it's the music that sets this game apart. Most of those who work at United Game Artists are clubbers and the quality of the trance/rave music here is ample proof of that. The levels, and music, start very quietly but slowly build up to a heart pounding crescendo with the final bosses, which are franticly paced.

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Locking onto a couple of enemies.
One area which this game does have a lot of emphasis is the vibration feature of the Dual Shock 2 controller. The controller vibrates in time with the music and action on screen, which gives the user a feedback not provided by too many games. It would not be beyond reason to say that Rez is one of the few games that puts the vibration function to good use.

It's somewhat sad that sales of this game will likely never meet expectations. Rez should be much bigger in Europe then in Japan and America due to a much stronger love of trance music. It's so hard to really explain what this game is about without actually handing the controller over to have a go yourself. United Game Arts have produced one of the best games on Playstation 2 and while I would love to give the game a higher score I do realise that the length of the game may be an issue for some people, as well as the predominantly shooter styled gameplay. This game is certainly worth a look.

GRAPHICSVery unique and hard to judge against other games, but its awesome.
SOUNDA stunning mix of music, sound effects and samples combine perfectly.
GAMEPLAYIt's a little on the repetitive side, but plenty of fun for dance music fans.
VALUERez is rather short with only 5 levels, but there is plenty to unlock.
OVERALLThis game is so original and different that you'll love it. Go buy it.

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