ECTS 2001: Hands-onRez

From the creators of Space Channel 5 comes Rez, a stylish shooter with a rhythmic twist.

The recent ECTS event held by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe also featured the debut of a playable version of Rez, UGA's rhythm-driven shooter. While the video of the game shown at the last E3 had us excited, nothing could prepare us for the heavily stylized visuals and sound effects of the real thing.

Rez takes place in a virtual world. Your character is a hacker of sorts, flying on rails through six levels of cyberspace in search of Eden, the central AI contained somewhere within the world. The gameplay is very simple. You float around, and you can move a targeting cursor and slightly move your character around the screen. There is also a lock-on attack much like the one found in the Panzer Dragoon games: You can hold down the attack button and sweep the cursor over multiple targets. Releasing the button fires up to eight shots. If an object requires more than one shot to destroy, you can direct more than one of your eight shots in its direction by holding the cursor on the object.

Where does music fit in? Well, each object in the world contains a different sound or piece of music associated with it. When you lock on to a target, a closed high hat noise sounds. Upon their destruction, the enemies release a bit of music that becomes a bit of the overall track. Destroying groups of enemies with one burst will release items that fill your evolution meter. Each time the meter is filled, your character evolves into a new form, eventually losing its humanoid form and looking more like pure energy. Filling your meter also earns overdrives, which can be used like smart bombs to destroy everything currently onscreen.

Each of the game's levels is broken up into layers. As you progress, certain shootable items will appear. Destroying one of these items will move you up to the next layer. It's unknown how the layers will come into play, but according to representatives at the event, certain layers will only be reachable if you've evolved to a certain level, so you'll have the ability to go back and replay completed levels to reach new layers.

Like Space Channel 5 before it, Rez has its own extremely unique graphical style. The game starts out with a very bare bones looking character and world made up out of simple lines. But as you evolve and as you move from layer to layer, the game gets more and more complex. The lines start moving faster, futuristic cityscapes appear and disappear, and it all culminates in a boss fight with a gigantic disco ball-like object that was called Earth (Giga) in the demo we played. Shooting at the ball breaks pieces off of it, revealing new targets to shoot at. At the end of the level, you are given percentages based on how many items you picked up and how many enemies you destroyed in the process.

Rez is said to contain exclusive tracks from "the world's most progressive artists," but the names of those artists will remain under wraps for another week or so, when an announcement will be made concerning the game's soundtrack. No official plans for a US release have been announced, but representatives at the event said that the game was currently scheduled to be released worldwide.

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Jeff Gerstmann

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.


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