Rez on the Dreamcast was the very definition of a marmite game that separated players into two groups; people that managed to ‘get’ it, and will to this day fervently defend its corner. And the people that saw this supreme mind-fuck of epic proportions fly right through one ear, hurt the brain before exiting out of the other. It’s debatable that Rez was a game ahead of its time, a game that perhaps we just weren’t ready for. Thanks to the wonders of Live Arcade, this musical on rails shooter has returned after a 7 year absence, now kitted out with all arcade title’s best friends: High Definition, wide screen and 5.1 surround sound support. And to say it’s looking better than ever would be a massive understatement.
“The impossibly vibrant, blinding colours sparkle with such lustre all over the screen, in ways that would put the Disneyland fireworks display to shame.”Rez takes place in a futuristic computer network system called Project-K. Inside, a program called Eden regulates the flow of data, but has seemingly become overwhelmed with the amount of information gathered on the network, causing it to doubt its own existence and purpose. Eden finally shuts down, which spells bad news for the world and everything that inhabits it. Playing the hacker, players must destroy the virus and firewalls that are obstructing the progress and more importantly, restore Eden.
This cult classic is the greatest example of what a lick of paint can do to an experience. The impossibly vibrant, blinding colours sparkle with such lustre all over the screen, in ways that would put the Disneyland fireworks display to shame. Rez will ruin your enthusiasm for clubs and discos, making them seem dull and lifeless by comparison. The inclusion of wide screen only heightens this sense of euphoria, as players move on rails shooting down anything and everything that has the gall to move in front of your cursor. Q Entertainment has also injected a surge of nostalgia into the experience, allowing players to go through all the areas in the game’s original state, but that’d be like someone with glasses deciding to play Rez without them on.
It seems impossible that a self confessed hater of techno/dance music like myself, can find the songs in Rez so completely mesmerising. The game does an excellent job of building up the beat at the start, easing players in slowly until it reaches an orgasmic-like crescendo of sound; a wonderful symphony of harmonics, high pitch zooms and booms that pulse straight through your ears. You aren’t the master composer of these songs and areas, the music will continue if you’re off the pace (not for long, mind) – instead, players are quite literally there for the ride and Rez puts you in a trance like state where every shot fired and beat met just feels so very right.
“playing Rez will be an almost religious experience.”800 Microsoft points will be money well spent depending on how much you feel you can get out of the very few areas Rez has to offer (just 5 in total). It’s not hard to complete the game, but then again Rez has always catered to the obsessive held bent on perfection, and with the introduction of those terribly addictive achievement points, this is a much better way to spend seven-odd pounds (roughly $14), rather than say, going out and buying crack cocaine instead. I’d imagine the two would create very similar experiences. There’s also the added bonus of high scores, the ability to save your best runs as well as other player’s attempts to see where you’re going wrong at certain points in specific areas. For those that put in the time and effort, there’s plenty of life to be had in Rez. Plus, such a small amount for a game that was like gold dust just a few months ago is an absolute bargain.
When you sit back and think, not much has changed in terms of how Rez will be received. It’s still a marmite game – a lot of you may be convinced that the folks over at Q Entertainment have been smoking illegal substances at some point in production. But if (like myself), you find that all the individual components in the game click into place and at all the right times, playing Rez will be an almost religious experience.
One of the most incoherent, bat-shit mental videogames ever created has just got itself some clarity – magical.