Maybe the second good thing about the nights drawing in is that its a perfect time to play Rez again. Its a game that needs to be played in the dark with the volume way up. Rez is one of my favourite games of all time due to its unique blend of spectacular visuals, music, tactile feedback and great gameplay. I received this PS2 version from a friend a while back to add to my Dreamcast and Xbox 360 versions. This PS2 port looks great in widescreen on a LCD, possibly edging out the Dreamcast, which was only designed with 4:3 in mind. However, obviously isn’t as sharp as the HD visuals in the Xbox 360 port. Where it beats the 360 port is in the vibration. It really delivers, just as it did on the Dreamcast. This was an area I felt was really weak on the 360, possibly due to its wireless controllers and possibly due to the fact it was trying to spread vibration out through all the different controllers and didn’t seem to keep the beat properly. It genuinely hampered my enjoyment of the 360 port. This PS2 one I thoroughly enjoyed though – maybe just because I had the volume very very loud.
What is amazing about Rez, is that I am still discovering new things about the game, despite having completed it countless times since its first release. I love the way the visuals and vibration interact with the music, which changes depend on when you press buttons and how you play – whether you want to chain or hammer the shot button. I love the way the music and visuals build up and up during each level, also represented in your avatar become more fuller featured, before reaching a meditating nirvana, then reverting back to a baby and finally a ball of energy. The stage four boss is one of my favourite videogame bosses. The way the abstract blocks suddenly transform into a giant running man, and at the same time, this guitar kicks in, completely different to the techno beats throughout the rest of the game so far, but not breaking the flow of the music. And then level 5, unlocked after achieving 100% analysation on the previous four levels. A feat I didn’t manage first time today. Having to replay area 2, and then dying on the boss because I’d reached its hardest “Tera” form (yes, the bosses have adaptive difficulty).
Level 5 has a completely different feel, with text based interludes about the creation of life, and brief snatches of textured polygons. Plus, the music constantly teases you, making you wait for those brief ecstatic string moments to appear. This level feels like a completely different game, despite featuring the same mechanics. Then there is the boss rush – normally a terrible thing to add to a game, but in Rez it is so cleverly disguised that for years I didn’t even realise it was a boss rush. And the final boss itself, a work of joy, and, somehow, actual beauty. And no, I still haven’t achieved the proper “butterfly” ending. But I am content.
Playing Rez is a huge rush to the senses. An experience like no other. An experience everyone interested in the potential of videogames, should try, at least once. Is this PS2 version better than the Dreamcast and Xbox 360 (Live Arcade) versions? I’m not sure. Possibly. This game is a masterpiece. And now, Mizuguchi is creating a spiritual sequel – Child of Eden. Here’s hoping it turns out okay. After the first unveiling I was unconvinced, but, if done right, it has the potential. Whatever the outcome, it shouldn’t take away from the greatness that is Rez.