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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Rez HD

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If you listened to any Multiplayer Chats over the past month or two, I made constant jokes about Rez HD's rumble compatibility leading to a shortage of wireless Xbox 360 controllers just about every time the game was brought up.

Even with all the improvements, Rez HD still feels like it did when it first came out on the Dreamcast and PS2 – trippy, yet fun and addicting at the most basic of levels.

The premise is still the same: you're a hacker trying to get into the Project-K World Computer Network, to rid it of the bugs that have caused the network's A.I. "Eden" to shut down. And like in the original, the game is split into five levels with 10 layers a piece, the final one being a boss battle.

So what comes with this new, updated Rez? Smoother graphics, improved sound and the original Rez as a bonus. Which, if you never were able to afford the original because GameStop charged $50 for it used, is a very nice bonus. The game is still a rail-shooter at heart, using the Xbox 360 controller in a similar manner to how the original used the Dreamcast and PS2 controllers, but it's the combined experience that sets it apart.

As you're floating through the levels shooting enemies down, the world evolves around you to the beat of the music. The further you get, the more intense and layered the music. Your attacks add to the rhythm of the game itself, as your shots and the subsequent exploding enemies add additional beats to the tune. It's an experience that very few games can even claim to emulate, and most of them came out well after the original Rez.

But this game isn't easy. Nor is it long. At only 5 levels, Rez HD might leave some people looking for a longer experience a bit disappointed, but along with Portal, Rez HD proves good things can come in small packages. And the difficulty ramps up in later levels, especially during boss battles, much like the earlier Xbox Live Arcade release Omega Five, but without the Engrish. Additional features include online leaderboards, achievements, and a replay save system so you can share your best runs with friends.

Some might have thought that Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s classic rail-shooter couldn’t get any better than it was, but Rez HD proves that statement dead-wrong. The graphics updates might be the biggest change, but it’s still a fantastic game. It’s not for everyone, but for those who had even a fleeting interest in the original, Rez HD is a game they should not skip.

And no, I did not stick a controller down my pants.

Rez HD is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Mild Violence.


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