One might question Sony's marketing strategy at the moment. Right when Nintendo releases THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: THE WIND WAKER, the company goes ahead and releases two new PlayStation 2 titles, AMPLITUDE and PRIMAL. While PRIMAL might get lost a bit in trying to compete with one of the best adventure games of this generation, AMPLITUDE stands totally on its own merits.
Massachusetts-based Harmonix has been hard at work on AMPLITUDE since the release of the critically acclaimed FREQUENCY. In AMP, gamers take the role of a DJ who has to activate the different tracks of music by playing a couple measures of that track. After you successfully complete that part, it will activate itself and autoplay long enough to activate all the other tracks and get back to it (provided you move quickly enough). By jumping from track to track quickly and not making mistakes, you can gain multipliers that allow racking up hundreds of bonus points.
There are also several power-ups, the score-doubler doubles your score for a limited period of time (combine with a maxed out x8 multiplier to scale the high-score chart in no time at all). The freestyler allows you to jump off the track and freestyle for five points every couple seconds again, combine with the x8 multiplier and score-doubler for major points. There's also the autocatcher, which can be used to save your multiplier bonus if you screw up by automatically capturing the track. The slo-motion slows the song down a bit and is great for jumping from track to track.
In the multiplayer modes, there is a bumper, which knocks someone off the track that they are on as well as a crippler. The crippler causes the track to distort and bend making it much difficult to complete the track, just ask the Sony PR reps I played the game with online (thanks guys!).
The gameplay has been tightened and refined and it's just as addictive as in FREQUENCY. I prefer the second hardest mode just because it makes the game a bit more interesting and frantic, but normal isn't bad either. The remix mode is cool if you can get into it. All in all, if you like rhythm games, AMPLITUDE more than suits the bill.
The multiplayer aspect is pretty cool. Besides being able to remix songs with friends, you can also compete on a full song while trying to earn the most points or do a "dueling banjos" style duel. There is also a nice online mode that is broadband and modem friendly surprisingly considering how important timing is. I enjoyed the online experience greatly when the Harmonix guys weren't kicking my ass all over the place.
A big addition in AMPLITUDE has been the graphics. In FREQUENCY, gamers were held to a TEMPEST-like tunnel. Now the tunnel is flattened out and songs are grouped into cities. These highways fly through the cities. The backgrounds are dependant on how well you're doing, with flashing lights and effects, as well as clips of tours, music videos, art from the band, album covers, etc. It's all done really well and looks phenomenal.
The music is obviously the most important part, and I'm not disappointed. While FREQUENCY focused more around the Electronica and Techno aspects, AMPLITUDE is about Rock, Pop and Metal. You'll still get your dose of Freezepop, but expect to hear P.O.D., Papa Roach, Slipknot, David Bowie, Weezer, and Blink 182 as well. I think the music selection is awesome, and most of the tunes are great. I'm very happy with how it turned out.
AMPLITUDE is an awesome sequel to FREQUENCY and one of the best music games on the PlayStation 2. You owe it to yourself to play this after you finish WIND WAKER.