View Full Version : Rez

9th September 09, 10:18 PM
In honor of Dreamcast's 10th anniversary I'm going to share a review I did of my favorite game on the system for dcforums.co.uk. To note: this game is now available on X-Box Live in HD (although a Dreamcast with a VGA output will give roughly the same results).

Release Details

Release Date: November 21, 2001
Status: Released - Europe | Japan
Developer: Sega Interactive, United Game Artists
Genre: Rail Shooter
Supports: Standard Controller, Vibration Pack, VGA Box, VMU

Because pictures simply do not do this game justice:


Slight spoilers in this one:


Synesthesia. It's greek for "with sensation". It's a neurologically based phenomenon that means experiencing one type of sensation that involuntarily triggers another type. Tasting color is a great example of this. Synesthesia is also the tagline for the Sega Dreamcast game Rez. This game is no doubt Tetsuya Mizuguchi's brainchild. Also known as the creator of Sega's smash hits Sega Rally Championship and Space Channel 5, his work speaks for himself.

Rez is a game with a singular purpose: to create art from the videogaming medium. From the beginning, inspirations of the Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky's "musical" paintings led to the creation of this game and it really shows. An "on rails" shooter similar to another Sega hit, the Panzer Dragoon series, the player becomes an online avatar in a digital world. The plot, while not a twisting page turner, is fair enough to get you interested in the game and to prepare you for the experience.

The shakedown is as follows:
All of earth's computers form a global supernetwork. However, network crimes such as hacking are destroying the system from within. "Project-K" (another reference to Kandinsky) is formed to create "Eden", a superintelligent AI that can process all of the network's traffic simultaneously. However, Eden gains sentience and then proceeds into an existential meltdown. It is your job as a member of "Project-K" to traverse the cyberspace visualized by the system to break down any firewalls and viruses in your way. Yet your hacking changes the very fabric of this cyberspace; and thus the game's premise is laid down.

Every action you perform in Rez has a consequence. Luckily for the player, it is always good. Whether that be a visual change of color, a musical note, or a thump of the beat through the vibration pack. To put it simply Rez is beautiful. A perfect example of a game based on the vector graphics aesthetic. It really shows what the Dreamcast's hardware can do when put to the test on unconventional game ideas. The graphics are at once grasping and yet have a timelessness to them. The simplicity of the lines and solid color textures will look great from now until the end of time. A boon for the player, the graphics serve as the main launchpad into the wonderful gameplay this title has to offer.

While you go through each of the 7 levels the avatar you control can "evolve" into higher forms of energy. This has the nifty effect of increasing your digital "life" in this beautiful, yet dangerous cyberworld. Possibly one of the best features of Rez is it's simplicity. The simple "drag to lock on and press a button to fire" mechanism familiar to those who play rail type shooters is immediately accessible to grasp and really helps the immersion process. You can pick up the powerups to evolve and also gain the most important "bomb", or Powerdrive in the game, ability which is a standby for the shooter genre. Anyone not familiar to a game with similar gameplay should only know that it clears the screen and acts as a lifesaver in the most dire of moments. Rez's twist is that it releases a digital drone which fires continuously at enemies on-screen. While powerful enough to take out most any number of normal opponents, it will take quite a bit more to destroy a boss. There is a third powerup available in special unlockable game modes called "Score Attack" and "Beyond Mode", respectively, which allows for a major point boost. Beyond Mode is the ultimate unlock which allows the 2 extra levels to be played "beyond" the normal 5 plot/gameplay progression levels. There are also 2 extra modes, "Immortality" and "Boss Rush" that can be unlocked as well. The game mechanics are all very stripped down to the very essentials of need so that the graphics can take hold of as much screen space as possible. It's apparent alot of thought went into the placement of each piece of user interface and the little touches like scrolling hacker text just add to the wonder.

In what might seem like a paradox, Rez's need for immersion is it's one true downfall. It's one of those rare games that require your entire attention and often forces it out of you with the consequence of a game over. In a great move by Sega, Rez adjusts to the player's skill level by counting the percentage of shoot-downs and giving the level bosses a subtype of "Mega", "Giga" or "Tera". These subtypes adjust the difficulty of the boss so that the game is more accessible to the casual player but also rewards the hardcore player with more intense boss encounters. While this is perfectly acceptable to most gamers, including myself, it draws a line of mood in the sand. If someone were to play the game in an off-mood (they don't like the trance music, their hands are hurting from the vibration pack, or the idea of a game based around art and converging senses just baffles them) and they don't feel engaged they become confused and/or bored by the simplistic and beautiful convergence of graphical art, music, and vibrations. This leads to a sharp divide in the Dreamcast's playerbase as those who play the game either love it or hate it, forcing the game into a definite niche of "experience" based gaming. While it is easy to understand that, we mustn't forget that the immersion is the very heart of the game. If you can't let yourself be overwhelmed at the time, don't play it. The game requires a total sensory commitment of all three senses involved while playing to create the pseudo synesthesia effect. But if you truly immerse yourself in it you will be rewarded with one of the very best video gaming experiences the medium has ever had the privilege of knowing.

There's a reason people often compare it to a drug and that Rez has been labelled "an endorphin machine."

By dreamCloud, dcforums.co.uk
Posted August 12, 2007

Gameplay: 10
Graphics: 10
Sound: 10
Value: 9
Tilt: 10


10th September 09, 04:58 PM
"fear is the mind killer"

10th September 09, 05:07 PM
Oh, also forgot to mention that the Japanese version that was ported to the PS2 came with a "trance vibrator" for extra game immersion... and no I'm not even joking...


Apparently it was because the normal vibration sucked so bad in the PS2 controller compared to the DC one... but after reading that I don't buy that for one second!

10th September 09, 05:11 PM
It was a sex aid..the commercial implied as much: