Rez HD – 360 Review (and my first 10)
You and I both know that scores are largely pointless. They serve some function in that they can be internally consistent markers of quality for a publication but, I’m sure we’d agree that there’s no absolute, empirical scale by which all games are judged. No game is going to universally attract praise from all players – there is no perfect game just as there is no perfect book, film or album.
Ultimately, it comes down to what kind of message do you want to send out? What will a ten represent for your publication? There is no absolute empirical scale. You set the parameters with decisions like this. Rarely in videogames do you get a chance to point at a title and say: this is the best the medium has to offer. Thanks to editor Tom for not passing on that chance.
Snap the Rez design apart, lay the pieces out on the table and you’ve little more than a wireframe Panzer Dragoon.
Sure, it’s been named by Underworld, custom soundtracked by Adam Freeland, graphic designed in a lab by Tron nanobots and rolled out into the look-games-can-be-intellectual battleground plastered with Wassily Kandinsky posters. But behind the frippery sits Space Harrier chewing acid at a science-fiction fancy dress party. There’s no way to escape the fact that your character moves along a fixed path at a fixed speed, clicking on pop-up targets for points. At its heart, Rez is a good old-fashioned shooting gallery arcade game, albeit one stationed at a Butlins in Alpha Centuri.
But, even if you do ignore all the peripheral highbrow talk of Russian abstract painters and neurological foibles or the lowbrow hand-muffled giggling about a third-party sex toy peripheral and its rhythmic pulsing, the strong, assured core of this extraordinary game is somehow more than its constituent parts. Yes, you sit on an esoteric rollercoaster picking off line-art cubes as they streak by, but perform that kind of critical reduction and you’ll not only miss Rez’s destination but you’ll also ruin the journey. And in Rez, the journey is everything. And in Rez HD, the journey is filmed by a Heliglimbal gyro-stabilised camera borrowed from the BBC’s Planet Earth production team.
The orangey lines that delineate something from nothing, never too jagged or pixelly in the original, could now slice a cheese moon. Spread out across a widescreen canvas, the streaky pixel bomb explosions, circuit board backgrounds and ancient wireframe temples you fly through are finally brought into true focus, as if before we looked through a Dreamcast darkly but now we see in full (HD). The original version is included in the package but you can’t escape the feeling that it’s there less for completism’s sake than for rude showboating on Q Entertainment’s part.
You can read the rest over at Eurogamer here.