Love is in the air...but you're a gamer, and that means that in February, your luck is well and truly out. Yes, it's a horrible stereotype and one that is completely inaccurate, but rather than pick either The Rub Rabbits or Feel the Magic: XX/XY as our Game of the Month for this month, I felt like I should pick a game which we as gamers love, and have always regarded somewhat fondly.
Rez originally came out on the Dreamcast, and was then later ported onto PS2 (where I played it for the first time) and lastly to Xbox Live Arcade as Rez HD, a release which SEGA played no part in. Regardless, I still like to think of Rez as a SEGA game, and even moreso as a modern classic. Recent sequel/spiritual successor Child of Eden tried to continue the formula, but I felt something was missing.
Perhaps it was the soundtrack, which instead of being almost entirely compromised by Genki Rockets featured some great electronica artists. Don't get me wrong, GR are a good band, but the style of music doesn't fit this kind of game at all. I would much rather have a track like Fear by Adam Freeland (my personal favourite), as it feels like it was created for the level, or the level was created around the track.
Rez' story was quite in depth for a rail shooter. Your character is a computer program which is tasked to save an AI called Eden. Eden runs a network called the K-project, and the vast amount of information it processes causes Eden to doubt its existence and go into shutdown mode. Your character progresses down a set path, shooting away viruses and firewalls that happen to be in the way of your progress.
What made Rez work so well, and indeed still does work so well, wasn't so much how you played it, but how the game itself actually played. Every action sans movement was tied into the music. Targeting enemies gave off little hi-hat sounds, whereas shooting them actually occured to the beat of the track. Powerups throbbed and pulsed, as did the background and your character. If you weren't enveloped in the gameworld you was playing with your eyes closed, it was just fantastic.
However, it's also short. Rail shooters never tend to be long, but then they also tended to be arcade affairs, developed so that you kept hammering coins into the machine in an attempt to defy the odds and beat the boss. Rez was different in that it wasn't too hard, instead allowing you to really enjoy the experience of playing it. There were still difficult sections, but for the most part Rez was content enough to just let you play, and enjoy. Additional modes like Score, Time and Boss Attacks lengthened the game, along with a couple of bonus levels unlocked with certain criteria met.
Of course, it's hard to mention Rez and not pay particular attention to a peripheral released in Japan alongside the PS2 release: The Trance Vibrator. It's INTENDED purpose was that you could hold it (how you'd do this when you're also holding a controller is beyond me), put it in your pocket or sit on it, and the vibrator would vibrate in time to the music. You're more likely to have heard of the Trance Vibrator for another reason, namely that it has also been used as a sex toy by people who wanted to "experience" Rez in an entirely different manner. The 360 version also allowed you to use three controllers to provide extra vibration feedback, however I'd like to note that sitting on them, or using them as aids for other things, isn't exactly the best of ideas.
Rez is one of my favourite Dreamcast games ever (which is funny as the DC version is the only one I haven't played), and is definitely a game I'd wholeheartedly recommend if you own a 360, as the PS2 and Dreamcast games are now REALLY hard to get a hold of, unless you're lucky (the Trance Vibrator harder still, though getting one of those 2nd hand? Err....). Rez is one of those games which is a perfect marriage of game and gamer, and you really do owe it to yourself to give it a go.
Requests between 25th May and 31st May