Describing Sega's latest videogame may be one of the most difficult tasks I have ever faced as a journalist. "Completely immersing" sums it up, but how it accomplishes that feeling is an experience that must be felt to fully understand.
The basic story is that you have to hack through a computer by finding your way through different layers of a network to destroy the core of it. There are five sections and viruses will try to destroy you before you reach it. It combines visual elements that are specific yet abstract at the same time.
REZ is a music shooter. Everything you do affects the music and the graphics on screen. Everything is tied together. Firing your guns once plays a bit of bass. Connecting a big string of shots together will play out a nice chorus of music. Exploding enemies all have their own sound and color residue.
The game plays out as a shooter on rails, you can move your targeting cursor and lock on to up to eight enemies at a time, and then let loose a shot. It then chains together a nice string of music and the exploding viruses create a pretty cool effect on screen. The beat of the music is reflected by the pulsating of the controller in your hand. The entire experience sucks you in.
As you progress, you get to fight some incredible boss battles and see some amazing visuals. The computer areas are all drawn in and fairly angular, but you change the screen into a myriad of lights as you fly through the network destroying enemies.
What makes REZ so hard to describe is the fact that everything is so interwoven. The music, graphics and gameplay all work together. While playing REZ, the rest of the world seemed to disappear around me as I was sucked into the world that had been created.
The only downside is that REZ is fairly easy, and also pretty short. Each level takes some time, but I'd imagine that one could get through REZ easily in a rental. The great experience is very quickly over. The lack of challenge is fitting only because the game is more of an experience than anything else is.
The bright colors and quick changing speed of the graphics gives the game an extra epilepsy warning before the menu. The only other time I've seen an additional warning (beyond what is normally in the instruction booklet) is with Sega's SPACE CHANNEL 5. There is a lot of stuff going on on the screen at once. Dozens of colors swirling, frames of the computer world speeding by, enemies closing in. It's stylistic and impressive at the same time.
The music falls into the techno category, but it's very bland until you start destroying enemies. That builds upon the rest of the music and creates incredible environments that pull you in and won't let go. I showed the game off to some friends and they were sucked in even before they got a chance to play. The sound effects are non-existent, as they merely are part of the music.
REZ is a gamble, and Sega didn't ship a lot of copies. But it's one of the best shooters to come along in a while and definitely a great showcase of the Playstation 2. But it is only a rental as it is far too short to justify a purchase.
Platform: Playstation 2
ESBR Rating: Everyone
Developer: United Game Artists
Suggested Retail Price: $49.99
Fun Factor: B
Reviewer's Wild Card: B+