Thursday, 15 January 2009

Rez HD - 360

Rez was re-released in full high definition glory on Xbox Live Arcade for the ridiculously low price of 800 points (£6.80) last year. So I'm going to tell you exactly why you should be downloading this modern classic (if you haven't already).

Rez is a shooter, but calling it simply that would be missing the point. The whole journey is more of a visual and audio experience. Rez's creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, is the genius behind games such as Lumines and Space Channel 5, so you know there will be a strong emphasis on sound and visuals.

Mixing beautiful wireframe and vector graphics, your journey through Rez is strictly on rails. Your ever-changing avatar can lock on to enemies – up to eight at a time – before releasing a string of shots. It's a similar mechanic to that used in the classic Saturn and Xbox series Panzer Dragoon.

When enemies explode, they create a sound effect which blends in with the game's excellent music. The levels start quietly, but gradually build so that by the time you get to the level's boss, the music has been transformed into a rousing crescendo of trance music.

Now, Rez is not a long game. There are four main stages, with an unlockable fifth stage, but there are also various modes which will keep you playing, including Score Attack, Trance Mode, Direct Assault, Boss Rush and the Lost Level. There's even a mode you can play through where you can't die, so you can just sit back, relax and let the experience wash over you.

The game also features the original version so you can see for yourself the stunning changes that have been made to the visuals.

There are also a multitude of settings you can play around with in the options menu. You can change the sounds in the game and also tinker with all of the game's visual effects, giving the graphics blur, glare, sepia tone etc.

The controller's default setting has pad rumble set to 'off'. But to immerse yourself fully in the experience you should really have the rumble feature on, as every beat of the game pulses through your hands.

Although the main game is over quite quickly, I've never found this to be a problem. I've been playing Rez since 2003 and it's a game I go back to time and time again, sometimes just to see the game's fourth boss and the incredible fifth level, which are two of gaming's most incredible sights (and sounds).

Rez is one of my all-time favourites, but many people missed it the first time around. If you haven't experienced Mizuguchi's gem, then as a gamer, you owe it to yourself to play this.

So turn the lights low, crank up the volume and enjoy. It's one of gaming most unforgettable experiences. Absolutely essential.

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