Fresh from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the brains behind Sega’s Space Channel 5, comes Rez. A ’musical shooter’, Rez focuses more on its gameplay than graphical aspects. The story, if you must know is this: Sometime in the future, an advanced artificial intelligence was created to manage the overload of information in the world’s computer networks. This A.I., called Eden suddenly develops consciousness and breaks down, rendering the whole system inoperative. You take the role of a hacker trying to restore the network, and do battle with viruses and network firewalls. Simple storyline, but it has no bearing on the game whatsoever.
Rez is essentially a rail shooter, with a twist. If you’ve played Dreamcast’s Panzer Dragoon, then you’ll feel right at home with this Rez. You basically use your left analogue stick to control your character and move the curzor to target the enemies. You can shoot the enemies one by one to your heart’s content. But this is not the way to enjoy Rez. Try holding the shoot button, move the cursor to lock on the enemies, and release it.
Having done that, you’ll notice that each of the destroyed enemy produces a sound. Lock on and destroy multiple enemies, and you get a more complex tune. Mix this up with the background techno/trance music, and you’ll be blasting your way to musical bliss. Suffice to say that music plays an important role in this title, and a decent sound system is recommended to get the best out of the game.
In Rez, there are five areas, each contains ten levels. That might sound like a good deal, but believe us when we say that the levels are very short. I reckon you can finish up the whole game in one sitting. A decent amount of powerups would have been nice, but in Rez you only get Overdrive Nodes, which are smartbombs that home in and destroy all targets on screen, and the Progress Nodes, which will transform your character.
The graphics are a mixed bag. Your character and the gaming environment is presented in wireframe form, which looks kinda basic and dull. But when the enemies come thick and fast, and you’re blasting your way past them, the screen explodes in tiny explosions of light and colour. On the whole, it could be seen as an artistic game, but as I said earlier, it may not appeal to everyone.
All’s nice, but is it fun? One could argue that it’s a poor shooter, and blasting enemies with no incentive in terms of cool pickups is a chore. The levels are relatively short, and aren’t particularly challenging either. If you’re into trance music, then you might find hours of enjoyment mixing tunes by destroying your targets.
Hard to say. Rez is certainly one of most unique game on the PlayStation 2, albeit a simple and short one. It might not appeal to serious shooter fans, but it is a game that warrants some playtesting. Better rent it first and you might learn to appreciate its beauty and simplicity.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.