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culture XBLA Xbox 360

Rez HD (Xbox 360 Live Arcade)

Rez HD screenshot

I first met Rez in the Game On exhibition in 2003 in Helsinki. I had read a lot about the Dreamcast game and was intrigued. Actually playing it, I was just blown away. I replayed it with my brother for several times and just couldn’t take my mind off it. I’ve been listening to the excellent soundtrack quite a bit ever since and kept my eyes out for the PlayStation 2 version. I haven’t been able to locate the game short of buying it secondhand from an online auction house, which is just too much trouble for me. It’s now available on the Xbox Live Arcade for 10€.

So what makes Rez HD or its previous incarnations on the Dreamcast and the PS2 so special?

[flv:/media/RezHD.flv 400 225]

Taken at face value, it’s a simple game. Your avatar flies forward on a predetermined route, you paint enemies with your cursor and let go of the fire button to destroy them with your homing attacks. That’s all there is to it. But that’s not the game.

You’re supposed to immerse yourself in it. The flawless visuals and amazingly enduring trance soundtrack are not icing on the gameplay, they are the point of the game. You’re supposed to enjoy the journey, the concept of “beating the game” just doesn’t apply here. The whole progression mechanic in the game, the evolving avatar and the slowly building music, it’s all tuned to pull you in and lift you up, way beyond the superficial gameplay.

The dance vibrator, a vibrating accessory available for the PS2 version, could not be coupled with any other game. The new version allows you to configure any extra Xbox control pads you have to function as vibrators. It sounds like a silly idea, but really adds to the experience – I’m not suggesting you do anything private with them, just place them against your back or rest your hands on an extra controller.

So turn it up and take the trip. It’s totally worth it, even after seven years. Nothing retro about it.

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