Rez HD Review

With almost any form of media, there are pieces of content which, when released, never get the attention they so rightly deserve. Years pass by and the content is typically hailed by critics, people who have actually experienced the content and people who haven’t actually experienced it but talk at great lengths like they have. If buzz is increasingly generated about this wonderful creation, then it may get a re-release, potentially with added and/or changed content. What happens next varies greatly from medium to medium, but in the constantly evolving world of videogames, it’s very hard for a product to retain its original level of quality, let alone surpass it, without undergoing significant changes. Now, Rez HD has been released on Live Arcade and it’s the same game that was released in 2002 but with HD graphics and 5.1 surround, and it’s absolutely breathtaking.

At its core, the game is a very basic rail shooter that bears more than a slight resemblance to the early Panzer Dragoon games (fyi: several members from that series worked on Rez). You don’t “earn” upgrades and new abilities as the game progresses, so what you start with on area 1 is what you end with on area 2. Instead of incorporating complex gameplay elements, the designers instead chose to focus on the concept of synesthesia, the association of different senses and stimuli with one another. In short, this is where Rez truly shines. Yet, because we all have such differing tastes in videogames, music, and how we like to be entertained, it’s almost irrelevant for me to communicate my experiences with the game without first informing you of a couple of other things about myself.

I am extremely passionate about music in almost all of its forms so the rhythm genre of videogames especially appeals to me. I’m not the biggest fan of the trance music found in Rez, but I enjoyed it, especially in 5.1. I enjoy videogames as an alternative means to explore human emotion. Lastly, I’m not really a fan of rail-shooters. I don’t hate them; I just don’t like them as much as other types of games.

Because of my personal interests and expectations, which were pretty high given its revered status, I enjoyed every second that I spent playing this game from my repeated failures to being blown away by the beautifully constructed narrative in area 5. On the other hand, those not interested in the music and/or the audio and visual nature of this game might be left wondering what all of the fuss is about.

When you look at Rez through the glasses of traditional game design and try to determine its “value,” you might boldly declare that it’s worthless because it only has 5 levels and a minimal amount of extra content. Now that the game costs a mere 800 Microsoft Points (roughly $10) and you no longer have to throw down $100+ to a shady dealer on ebay or even $40-50 at retail just to own the game, even those wearing those short-sighted glasses will probably find a great deal of “value” here. Everyone else will find that the brilliance of Rez isn’t in some singular quality like graphics, but in the way everything comes together to create an audio and visual interactive experience that is uniquely its own. Sure, you can dissect the simplicity of an individual element such as gameplay or the lack of traditionally perceived “value,” but you’d be missing the point.


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Author: Kyle Stallock View all posts by

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