360Gems : Rez HD

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Tetsuya Mizguchi’s Rez (which first debuted for the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast), blends music/rhythm gaming with a psychedelic presentation and fun shooting action. It didn’t do well commercially, but that didn’t stop Q Entertainment from reaching out to a whole new audience with an Xbox Live Arcade version. This isn’t just a straight-up port, however – Rez HD is a superior version that demands attention.

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Like the original, you fly through virtual worlds eliminating enemies that, as they explode, contribute the game’s beat. This time, however, Rez comes in glorious high definition. It moves at a blistering sixty frames per second, without loss of detail or a hint of slowdown. The bosses look much better as well. While you’re battling the computer mainframe at the end of level three, you’ll gaze in wonder at the glow emitting from its laser cannons. Don’t stare too long, though – they’re lethal.

Rez’s music also deserves praise. The techno/trance playing in the background will suck you in, right along with the visuals. As you play, you’ll chain musical tones together to create fun little melodies that you’ll bop your head to. The game’s best track is the “Mind Killer” that plays throughout Level five, as you go through an evolutionary ladder of enemies to reach the final boss.

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The gameplay follows your routine “lock-on-and-shoot-enemies” style, but it still works very well. You build multiple-hit combos, increasing your end-of-level percentages. Along the way, you can also score power-up icons to change your form. At one point, you become a glowing orange guy in a zen-like pose, sitting inside a nearly indestructible sphere with lights surrounding it. Your weapons change as well, starting as simple laser bolts and evolving into more over-the-top patterns. It adds to the visual excitement happening on-screen.

Although it’ll take you a few hours to beat the main quest, Rez has plenty of extras. Along with the option to choose between Rez HD and the original game, you also earn access to other modes. You have Boss Rush mode, where you run through the game’s multiple boss battles non-stop; a Score Attack mode, which lets you compete for the highest point count possible; the two additional Trance Mission and Beyond levels; and numerous Achievements, most of which you unlock by beating the main game at least once.

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The game also lets you plug in three additional controllers for “Trance Vibration” support, in case you aren’t feeling enough pounding through your hands. Other hidden features are unlock able as well, but we’ll leave them for you to discover.

For 800 points ($10), you got a game that, at one point in time, was selling for $100 on Ebay. Do yourself a favor and invest in Q Entertainment’s latest masterpiece. You’ll love it.

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