Rez is ten years old today. Time sure does fly. This review was originally written back in 2001 when Casually Hardcore was a much more simple website. This review has not been edited in any way and hopefully conveys the exact feeling the game brought when it was first released. At the end of the review you’ll find a quick 2011 style review to see how its held up over the years.
Rez, a mythical game about a hidden sword, which has been resurrected from its eternal sleep of a thousand years. No, not really. It’s a music shoot em up.
The story, of what little there is of one, is that it’s your job to track down and awake the central AI ‘Eden’ by breaking through the firewall of a super virtual network. In simple terms, hacking.
The main basis of the game is to shoot everything. That’s it, nothing more. Sounds boring? Well its not. As expected of a Sega product, this is one of the most unique games created this year, but with added fun to boot. Imagine Lylat wars/Star fox and you got the idea of thing. You start of as a virtual representation of yourself flying through the computer network, destroying everything that gets in your way. You do this by locking onto enemies, up to 8 at a time and letting rip.
Of course this wouldn’t amount to much if that’s all you did. You’re locked onto a fixed path and have limited movement of the camera. The idea of the shooting is to create music. This game is a techno heads paradise. Featuring music from the likes of Adam Freeland and Cold cut, you cant help but tap your feet to the beat. As the game says before loading, make sure you have a good sound system set up.
The main motive of the game, apart from the shooting is the music. The techno tracks add as a backing, speeding up and changing as you go from area to area inside the huge levels. Every time you hit an enemy you create a new beat or sound effect. Pulling off combos make different beats happen, with varying degrees of fluidity. You can continually tap A and get a fast beat, or line up a combo of 8 enemies to create a longer slower effect. Ever been to a nightclub and seen the visual effects they play on the big video walls to the music? Every time you hit an enemy you’ll get a nice dose of colour, which weaves to the music till it fades out. While you’re not strictly creating your own music, you are adding to the track that is already there.
As said previously, the music really brings you into the game, and being able to interact with it just makes the experience all the more better. People, who play this and have no interest in music, will be missing the point of the game. And people who aren’t into techno, no need to worry, as anyone who has experienced this has had no qualms with the tracks on offer. The tunes are so perfectly balanced you cant help but enjoy them and turning your speakers up to max setting.
The graphics in screen shots look dull, lets be honest. But the first time you ever saw the film Tron, you was impressed, admit it. Well imagine Tron like graphics, with added detail in 128-o-vision. Everything you see is in wire frame, meaning that you don’t see realistic textures, just the outline of a box or object. Going down the many corridors of the game, you’ll see new and different things. Areas are curved and with pillars sticking up holding the ceiling up. The floor moves with the beat of the music, moving more violently every time you hit an enemy and create a beat. Your character is a wire frame model, which morphs to the beat also. Along the way, as you defeat enemies blue spheres will burst out of some of them allowing you to ‘evolve’. Essentially this gains you extra lives. Collecting a number of the blue spheres allows you to evolve, gaining you and extra life which you’ll need in later parts of the game, and also changes the look of your character from a simple human, to a mass of energy, which also changes the sound effects you set off when you kill an enemy and the way your shooting looks on screen. Sometimes an enemy will send out a red sphere, which gives you the power to eliminate everything on screen for a short period of time. Very handy especially when you have hundreds of enemies battering you.
Each level is comprised into ten sections. Each section has a firewall to destroy, which allows access to the next section. While not essential to destroy, they help you gain 100% rating in the level. Each time you destroy one, before moving onto the next section, you’ll see the room deform around you before whizzing off to the next area. There are hardly any load times, and ones that are there are not noticeable, due to them being covered up by short sequences of animation. After completing the ten sections you’ll face a final boss, having to make sure you destroy them or evade them before they destroy you. Completing all this brings up your completion rate for the level. Getting 100% in certain sections allows access to other bonus features, which we’ll let you find out for yourself.
So to sum up, imagine Lylat wars, with a little bit of MUSIC thrown in and a bit of crazy taxi scoring system and that’s basically the game. With the game being so unique it’s hard to write down what makes this game so great. The music really immerses you and the graphics have their own unique style making them stand out from the crowd. The use of the rumble pack adds to the game, with it jumping around to the beat of the music, getting stronger as the beat does. The icing on this wire-framed cake is the extra bonuses you get, such as an extra long level, which explains life and the design behind the game, evolution. Having graphics, which simply stun. Other smaller added levels, being able to change the colour scheme, a score attack mode, a mode where you can chill out and just listen to the music and much more.
If you have a Dreamcast, then you just simply have to try this game. It’s like nothing else. It wont be a game that keeps you playing for hours on end, but more a game that’ll keep you coming back for a quick fix every couple of hours. As one of the last Dreamcast releases, this is a great way for the machine to go out, bringing everything that the Dreamcast was about, cool graphics, unique game play and rocking music. This game, while not to everyone’s tastes will certainly be enjoyed by a lot of people, especially those who’ve had a bit too much to drink, or in the mood for a laugh. Just buy it, it may not be the most complicated of ideas, but like they say, the simple things always work the best.
NOTE: There is a limited number of copies going out to stores, so if you see a copy, grab it quick. Also the PS2 version is exactly the same, apart from a full 60fps mode. So whether you have a Dreamcast or PS2, you must get this game!
2011 Quick Review
This game has held up so well that if it were released today it wouldn’t look or feel out of place. Which is great for gamers as you can pick up a high def version of Rez on the Xbox 360 with 5.1 surround sound, better graphics and a few extras. At the time many gamers would proclaim this as the best hour of their life. Sure its an extreamly short game and can be completed in one hour long sitting but its a game you’ll come back to again and again. Score attack addicts will love it for being able to unlock new modes whilst everyone else will just enjoy the experience.
The game did in fact receive a worryingly low amount of copies on release but with the Xbox Live Arcade version no one has an excuse not to own this stone cold classic.