Music games: you either love them or you hate them. There have been some awesome music games over the past few years, with PARAPPA THE RAPPA being the most popular. For those diehard music gamers, Namco's DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION and Sega's SAMBA DE AMIGO were both fantastic titles that, while expensive (due to the footpad and maracas), provided hours of gameplay (and for pudgy gaming journalists, exercise).
The only thing you'll be exercising in FREQUENCY is your trigger fingers, since this game relies totally on them (or if you'd like, your thumb). FREQUENCY takes popular music from many genres, such as Techno, Synthpop, Rock and Roll, and Hip Hop, and breaks it down into all the different pieces.
To play the game, you have to play a certain instrument for a couple of measures by pushing the correct button at the right time. Once you've completed a few measures, the track is captured and that instrument plays on its own for that section of the song (and other points where that section repeats itself). The game starts you on the drums and bass guitar section and eventually unlocks vocals as well as a synthesizer. Of course, when all the tracks are unlocked and you hit a new section, you'll go from rocking to silence.
What's so awesome is that you get to hear good music come together while playing an addictive game. As you add tracks the music becomes more complete, and you are creating your own remix (in a way). If you get all of the tracks complete in one section before reaching the next, you can then use an axe and a scratch to further customize the music and rack up points.
The biggest way to rack up points is by efficient use of the multipliers and auto-catchers. There are certain sections of certain tracks that are highlighted. If you complete that section you will receive either a multiplier or an auto-catcher. If you use the multiplier, your scores are increased by a certain factor (and that factor can be increased by not making mistakes). Meanwhile the auto-catcher does just that: you use it and you don't even have to play the instrument to capture that track. Easy points.
The gameplay is very simple, but very addictive. You get into the game and you quickly start making very cool sounding music. That begins the obsession, but once you learn of the little boosts, you just get sucked in. It's one of the most addictive games since TETRIS, and that's saying a lot.
The bright graphics and colors lend to FREQUENCY's atmosphere. You fly down a tunnel (very similar to TEMPEST) as you complete the tracks that are laid out on them, eventually returning to the beginning of the song. While the tunnel itself is rather plain, the backgrounds are bright and colorful and look good. FREQUENCY won't impress you with graphics, but what it has are good.
Obviously the music is going to be the biggest part of the game. There's some awesome music here from great bands like The Crystal Method and Fear Factory. There's a wide variety of music and, in my opinion, it's good.
I enjoyed FREQUENCY. Whether it was unlocking new songs, competing in the frantic multiplayer mode, or remixing music, FREQUENCY is a prime example of the music game genre and is another impressive PS2 title straight from Sony.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Everyone
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: A
Reviewer's Wild Card: A