It's difficult not to admire Sega's resilience. After the (some, myself included, would say unfair) demise of the utterly exceptional Dreamcast, the legendary games company have persevered at a time where many a lesser company would simply fold and cease operations. They are doing what was unthinkable all of five years beforehand - they're going multiformat. They're actually developing games for the new gaming trinity - Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony.
And this is where Rez comes in. Encouraged by their fans' unwavering faith, Sega green lighted this ambitious, innovative project, allowing Tetsuya Mizuguchi to guide his United Game Artists team through what has turned out to be a very lengthy development. Right from the initial unveiling, the game has been heavily promoted in the specialist press, whipping up a fever-pitch of anticipation among the (and I hate to use the word) â€hardcoreâ€. Now, with Rez's release, we can all rest easy in the knowledge that our excitement was not unfounded - inadequate, even, given the explosion of magnificence that awaits you intelligent individuals who will hopefully, after reading this review, rush out and buy the game.
Rez puts you in control of the digital representation of a computer hacker, intent on destroying a virus hidden deep within a computer system known only as â€Edenâ€. And that's it. That's the plot. Almost totally superfluous to the gameplay, yet it fits perfectly.
Simplicity is the new complexity, it would seem.
'Mere words can not do this game justice.'
Now that we've got such frivolous matters as storyline out of the way, it's time to delve deeper into what makes Rez what Rez is, specifically what it's like to play. And it is here that we encounter our little quandary. To crassly mis-quote Morpheus, â€Unfortunately, no-one can be told what Rez is - you have to see it for yourselfâ€. Therein lies our problem. Mere words cannot do this game justice, but I shall endeavour to use my zero years of experience in the journalism industry to transmit this magnificent experience into words.
On the surface, the game is deceptively simple. Think the on-rails mentality of â€Panzer Dragoonâ€ fused with a â€Tronâ€ graphical aesthetic, and you're somewhere close to getting there. The shooting system is, at first glance, disarmingly uncomplicated. Your airborne avatar glides through the game, as a series of abstract assailants assault you from all angles. All you have to do is hover your target square over them, holding the lock-on button, letting go to destroy them. It is only when you enter score attack mode, and attempt those elusive 100% ratings on each level that the control system's nuances become apparent, of which there are plenty - for example, the differing scores you procure based on how many enemies you lock onto at once. The only other major gameplay element of note is the character evolution. Enemies will occasionally drop a blue sphere upon destruction, which, for every eight collected by you will evolve you by one level - The lowest level being a simple sphere, the highest being a ball of pure, pulsating energy. Taking damage from an enemy will devolve you by one level, eventually wiping you out, and forcing you to start over, and play through the level anew. Which is hardly a bad thing.
The main argument that will be no doubt put forth by the game's naysayers, which there will invariably be, as with any game, is one of the game's initial brevity - something which initially sparked a flicker of dismay in this reviewer's mind, but strip away the game's many layers, and you will uncover a wealth of unlockable extras, such as a score attack, new game modes, and, most importantly, the utterly wonderful fifth area. But more on that later.