Jeremy Jastrzab
14 Mar, 2008

XBLA Rez HD Review

360 Review | It will Rez-onate with you for a while.
Not every game released can appeal to everyone, even though ideally, developers want as many people as possible to play. It is this argument that is used to distinguish between games as entertainment and games as works of art. Unfortunately, most games that are often released to the clamour of 'a work of art' end up with disastrous sales and we're left to with more of WWII shooter number 89. Upon it's initial release in 2002, the Mizuguchi classic Rez, fell into this category. Six years later, Rez HD gets a release on the Xbox Live Arcade.

Rez doesn't have a story that is made very apparent to you, well, not until quite late in the game does it become very obvious. You're essentially playing a hacker that has infiltrated a virus-infected computer system. You can read up on it separately, but it’s very much in the background when you’re playing. Taking a physical form within the system, you're placed on rails and you shoot down the viral units as they come. The game is divided into five levels, and each level is divided into ten areas. To get to the next area, you need to shoot down a hovering blue unit. There are only ten blue access units in a level, so missing one will drop your ‘analyzation’ score.

The actual gameplay is very similar to the classic shooter series, Panzer Dragoon. Given that the title was originally produced at Sega, the connection becomes clear. To an extent, this makes the gameplay seem quite simple. Since you’re on rails, all you really need to do it move the on-screen cursor to shoot at incoming enemies. By holding down A, a shot will lock onto the enemy and you can have up to eight locked on at once. Enemies can hurt you, and you’ve only got a limited amount of ‘lives’, so the action can get very hectic.

Trippy or psychedelic?

Trippy or psychedelic?
Your form starts off as a humanoid made out of a series of squares, and if you’re hit twice, it will be game over. However, on the bottom left of the screen, you see a bar that will fill every time you find a blue pick-up. Once filled, you’ll transform into a ‘higher’ form, though one hit will send you back again. You can also find red pick-ups that fill the meter on the bottom right. Once that’s filled, you’ll have access to the Overdrive, which will clear the screen in a tight spot.

However, with Rez, it's not just about the gameplay, but about the visual and audio experience. It’s something that really needs to be seen to be believed, but it runs the risk of being dismissed by those who don't 'get it'. The vector-based style is almost entirely in this day and age, and the style of music, a mixture or electric and techno is not every one's cup of tea. However, the unique style looks even better now that it has been spruced up to fit a HD presentation and it almost feels that any other kind of music would be completely out of place. Furthermore, the look really does add to the feeling that you could be inside a virus-infected computer system.

Part of the reason that the game is also referred to as a musical shooter is that you can and will essentially be adding to the music. Every time that you shoot down an enemy, you’ll be adding to the beat. And this beat will change depending on how many hits you get in one go, or the power of your form. It’s not something that explicitly changes the gameplay but it does add to the player’s immersion in the game.

The High Definition upgrade is a winner.

The High Definition upgrade is a winner.
Rez on the XBLA is virtually a perfect port of the original game. And one of the slight detractors from the original was its length. Each of the five levels don’t take that long to complete, even though you’re unlikely to get through the first time and you’ve got options such as score attack to go back to. Given that it only costs around $10-12 (depending on your region) to purchase now, the fact that there are only five levels isn’t so much of an issue any more. And as far as XBLA titles go, Rez is one title that happens to be quite good value, even if it is a seven-year-old port. Frankly, you could do worse.

Rez is the kind of rare game that due to it’s simple and focused outlook, it doesn’t really carry many (if any) flaws. However, it’s something that will limit its appeal. Along with the presentation, if a player doesn’t like on-the-rails shooters, let alone ones with a remarkably unique style, there’s not much here for them. However, for those with an open mind and/or an affinity for shooters or techno and electric music, they’ll thoroughly enjoy a remarkable experience. Furthermore, even if shooters as all the rage on the Live Arcade, there’s just nothing that comes close to what Rez has to offer. Even if you don’t buy it, it’s worth checking out.
The Score
Rez on the XBLA is a one-of-a-kind experience, and while it doesn't have a remarkably wide appeal, those who 'get it' will be much better off for playing it.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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6 years ago
Great review. I actually got around to trying the demo today and I've become really hooked, it really has you wanting to come back for more. So yeah got to get some points some time soon to buy this, its number one on my to get list now.
6 years ago
Have Rez on PS2 and still rank it as one of the best games from that generation. I didn't get Rez the first time I played it as I died during level 4 and just thought 'meh'. 3 months later a played through the whole game and after finishing level 5 the genius of Rez hit me hard.

Great game and something I'd consider getting a 360 for (if it weren't for its dubious reliability).
6 years ago
Funny seeing a review of Rez that doesn't mention the word "synesthesia" or mention the vibration made infamous by the girl gamer review of the original game and it's tranz vibrator icon_wink.gif

Rez is one of my favourite games of all times so the new version is great. Good review, but your description of the Red pickups is incorrect as each one represents an overdrive.

Something to mention to people just trying it out - go to options, turn on the dolby sound and vibration, also try the Bloom visual filter, it makes the game look all next gen.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  28/05/2008 (Deleted)
  Direct Online by Publisher **
Year Made:

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