Rez HD Review (Xbox360)

Rehashing old games is a tricky business, the minute you take a classic from the shelf and dust it off the memories start flooding back. You reminisce about the time you first bought the game and became instantly mesmerised by it. Or the time you and a friend stayed up Ďtil the early hours eating nothing but mini-cheddars and drinking supermarket cola in order to finish the game. Your vision almost goes into soft focus as your gaze becomes transfixed and your mind wanders. You see, our favourite old games are precious to all of us. Each have a unique place in or hearts and have marked our past in such a way that the game itself almost becomes irrelevant, itís where you were, who you were and how you felt.

The problem with all this is of course when you actually sit down and play the damn thing again. What used to be a golden gem amongst its peers, what used to stand for innovation, frenetic gameplay and simply the best thing since sliced bread has been reduced to utter rubbish in front of your very eyes. Those silky smooth graphics now reveal the most god-awful jaggies and what you remembered to be a rock solid 60 frames per second turns out to be akin to dragging your drunk friend up a concrete flight of stairs after some Friday night frolics.

The art-style is inspired by the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky.

Move the cross hair over the target, hold ĎAí to select and release for a sound explosion.

However Ė although I hate the term - there are always exceptions that prove every rule, and let me hammer the point home that Rez HD is that exception. What has always been one of my favourite games of all time is not only just as good as I remember it, itís better.

Rez always represented what games were all about: simple, beautiful and fun to play. The sometimes cell-shaded but mostly wire-frame graphics are all that fill your screen in this rhythm action shooter, but thatís all you need. Although highly detailed character modelling and extra thick layers of bloom sheen are the norm these days, they pale against the trappings of original and interesting art design.

The whole ethos of the game is as leftfield as they come: You play as a hacker trying to stop a super computer named Eden from self-destructing by rebooting her. You traverse along a pre-determined path through the digital maze holding down ĎAí and locking on to the sentries that Eden throws at you. Each press of ĎAí triggers a clapping sound or maybe a hi-hat sound and when hit, a synthesised note rings out from your targets that seems to somehow complement the awesome soundtrack. Yes, you might remember me ragging on game developers that donít pay enough attention to the music. Well, Rez HD Ďisí the music. A pulsating, techno-trance laden soundtrack that has inspirations from the like of the Underworld (hence the name, Rez by the way) has you bobbing back and forth in some semi-comatose state. Suddenly you actually find yourself targeting enemies in time to the beat and start become irritated by the slightest distractions that the real world might throw at you. If all this sounds abstract then, well it is - beautifully so, in fact and thatís what makes Rez very special indeed.

You are greeted by all manner of weird and wonderful creatures on your journey, some too beautiful to want to destroy.

The bar on the bottom left, levels up your character, the overdrive is kind of smart bomb, use it wisely.

The on rails nature of Rez only adds to the feeling that you are being drawn in by Eden and becoming mesmerised by her. So although youíre an unwelcome visitor, it is almost as though your presence has meaning. Still enough hints for those of you who havenít played it yet, but yes, itís a shooter with a story and a very interesting one at that. Also, with spoiler filter in mind, the game offers some unlockable modes of play, which again, I wonít reveal in here. However, Score Attack mode is unlocked after you complete each level and itís time to string those combos together and compare your scores online. So there is plenty to aim for and many hours of play for your money and trust me, those hours will simply fly by.

So what are we left with? The highest modicum of praise I can bestow on Rez HD is that itís actually better than the original. Even Mizuguchi himself says, and I quote: ďWith Rez HD, I feel as if Iíve been given the opportunity to work out those unsolved areas and present the game that I had envisioned since day one Ė to me, this is the Ďcompleteí version of Rez.Ē For 800 Microsoft Points I urge you all to take the plunge and financially back this game as sales figures when it was released on the Dreamcast and PS2 make for pretty embarrassing reading compared with so many other generic and inferior titles. The graphical improvements over the original are worth the entrance fee alone with everything clean, smooth and vibrant. Again Mizuguchi saying that he has indeed not only touched up the original but added extra features too, making Rez HD anything but a lazy port.

These ocean scenes are simply breathtaking. It literally feels like you are swimming along side these lovely creatures.

How can you improve on near gaming perfection? Well, the answer is itself a question, why should you? Rez HD is not only a must have XBLA game, itís a must have title in itself. Although it is now a good few years old Ė but still not ancient enough to be classed as retro Ė Rez HD still looks down at the gaming world from its lofty perch smiling wryly to itself, comfortable in the knowledge that all these years have gone by and nothing has really ever come close. Itís simply the best game Iíve played in years. It still feels fresh and original and totally unlike anything Iíve ever experienced before and since. Stop reading this and download it.

Top game moment: Unlocking Area 5 Ė Fear is the mind killer!

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