Rez HD has finally been released on Xbox Live Marketplace and is available for download priced at a meager 800 points.
Rez was originally released for the Dreamcast in Japan back in 2001 and then later released on the Playstation 2 and Dreamcast in Europe, created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi (who went on to create modern rhythm game classic Lumines) the game is an on-rails rhythm action shooter.
Back when it was released my gaming tastes were quite simple, fighting games, role-playing games and traditional action games, so an artistic on-rails rhythm shooter didn't even show up on my radar, I was too busy trying to chain shoryukens.
From what I heard though the game didn't do to well, mainly because it was so far ahead of its time that it just didn't click with people, sure it has a cult following and is one of the most loved games in video game history but it wasn't a mainstream success (maybe that's where some of the appeal is).
Over 5 years later, lucky for me and probably a considerable amount of other gamers Mizuguchi and Q Entertainment have put out a gloriously high definition remake of Rez, and it, is, fantastic.
The premise is taken straight from the 80's to suite its general aesthetic, more on that later. The player takes control of a hacker who is traveling through a computer network in an effort to locate and restore a crippled artificial intelligence known as Eden, it seems an information overload has caused it to question its own existence and shut down.
The gameplay is extremely simple and on its own very shallow, you simply hold down a button and then move the cursor onto any on screen enemies, this locks onto the target and then a simple button release shoots a laser and destroys the approaching computer nasty. The pulsating avatar is able to simultaneously lock onto a total of 8 targets so the trick is to hold the lock on button then use your cursor to mark your targets, let go and then watch as they turn to dust.
The visual style of Rez enhances the colorful 80's techno-hacker theme that is prevalent throughout. It's a very Tron esque wire frame world filled with a variety of enemies comprised of evil geometrical shapes. Although they are initially overwhelming you slowly start to realise that the visuals are like nothing that any game, or movie for that matter, uses today, while it was common place back in the 80's where everyone thought the future would involve rainbow colored wired architecture it isn't as cool in the modern day, however Rez takes this old-school visual style and delivers it in beautiful high definition, and it works.
The third and final piece of the Rez puzzle is the audio, like Mizuguchi's current works music is an integral part of the experience, the retro trip-hop soundtrack just adds the final touch of crazy to this game, every action in the game adds a little beat to the overarching soundtrack, everything from a button press to a laser shot or explosion has an effect on the background audio.
" Gameplay is the heart of every game, if the gameplay isn't particularly interesting or fun the game isn't fun, so what makes this game so good?"
Thats what I kept asking myself during my short breaks from the game (after about half an hour of continuous gameplay I found myself feeling a bit dizzy).
Around two hours into playing the game it hit me, Rez isn't a game in the traditional sense, it's an experience, the eye-catching visual design, retro trip-hop soundtrack and simple but intriguing gameplay all work in unison to make an interactive experience that is unmatched by any modern-day game.