There are some games that offer a compelling story and characters you care about; there are other games that are all about the action; and there are occasional games that are hard to put into any category, that are more than the sum of their collective parts. Rez is such a game – if you looked at its individual pieces, it wouldn’t seem very good at all. But put them together, and you’re left with what can only be described as an experience.
At its core, Rez is an on-rails third-person shoot em up. You simply move a cursor around the screen, hold the A button to line up targets, and release it to destroy anything you’ve locked on to. You can also activate an ‘overdrive’ power that wipes anything on screen, and collect blue orbs to power up. Levels naturally get more difficult as you progress, but that’s really all there is to the gameplay.
But as simple as it sounds, Rez is still so much fun to sit back and play, because of the great synthesis of visuals, sound, vibration, and timing. Set inside a computer, your character’s mission is to infiltrate the security and wipe out the virus that has infected everything. The graphics are extremely stylized, a throwback in some ways to the vector graphics of old. But they are totally tied in to the aural experience – the music ramps up as you progress, and also as you do better against enemies. Sound effects also work in sync to the beat, as does the vibration in your controller.
When all the elements work in tandem, this game is extremely immersive - particularly if you have a 5.1 system (or at least a subwoofer) and an HD TV. But don’t take my word for it – go download the demo right now. No seriously, right now.