Rez HD Hands-On

We dive into a near-final version of Q Entertainment's atmospheric shooter as it heads to Xbox Live Arcade.

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The last time we got some time with Q Entertainment's HD upgrade of Rez for XBLA, the game looked like it was well on its way to delivering exactly what we wanted: HD Rez. Now that we got our mitts on a near-final version of the game, we can say that view hasn't changed. Q and developer Hexa Drive appear to have nailed a faithful, gorgeous upgrade to the unique Sega shooter from back in the day. Although we're obviously longing for some content, we have to say we're pleased by what Rez HD will be offering.

The futuristic shooter was always big on atmosphere, and the HD upgrade serves that very well. You'll cruise through five totally insane, but gorgeous, levels that blend a striking mix of light and sound. The framework for the madness is a cerebral story that's often overlooked when the game is discussed. The action is set in a futuristic computer network called the K-project. The vast machine manages a staggering array of information and is overseen by an artificial intelligence named Eden. Unfortunately, Eden's having an existential crisis because of the overwhelming load of info pouring through it and has entered into a shutdown sequence. While a shutdown might seem like a sensible thing to do, it will have catastrophic consequences for society, given how vital the K-project is to day-to-day life. You play the role of a hacker who's logged into the network with the hope of rebooting Eden before that happens. Sadly, it's not as easy as hitting ctrl-alt-delete, and you're forced to venture through the network to reach Eden in the core. You'll have to contend with firewalls, viruses, and Eden's general lack of enthusiasm at your efforts on your journey, which all makes for some stunning visuals.

Rez remains a one of a kind experience.

While Rez's story is deep, its gameplay takes a minimalistic, old-school approach that ensures anyone can play the game. Your journey through the network happens on rails, requiring you to target enemies with a cursor and shooting them individually or lock on to several of them at once. Your arsenal of weapons numbers two: your standard shot and a smart bomb like overdrive attack that you'll be able to trigger if you've collected the appropriate pickup. Although this may not sound like much to rely on when facing off against hordes of computer enemies, you get one perk with your main weapon on your journey that helps out considerably. Besides collecting red overdrive pickups, you'll also be able to collect blue orbs that fill a meter in the lower left-hand corner of the screen. This lets your virtual avatar evolve into one of six different forms, which improve your main weapon. Given this simple scheme, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that the game's control is good and basic. You'll have one button to shoot, which you can use to lock on to enemies by holding it down, and one to trigger an overdrive. Outside of that, you'll just have to use the analog stick to move your cursor around. On paper, all of the above may not sound terribly compelling, but in practice, Rez just works incredibly well, even after six years. The five levels are made up of 10 subareas you'll have to journey through to reach a boss.

Besides the single-player game, you'll find several other modes with which to play around. The game offers two main modes to choose from: Rez HD and Rez Standard. Rez HD is the sexy, upgraded version of the original game with widescreen support, 5.1 audio, and enhanced art. The game mode offers several suboptions, which include a tutorial movie; a "travelling" mode for beginners that doesn't sweat lives; score attack, which challenges you to get the best score possible; and beyond mode, which includes several different game types using the existing levels, as well as a brand new one exclusive to the mode. The more you play beyond mode, the more customizable options you'll unlock. The Rez standard mode offers all of the above in the original 4:3 standard-def resolution, jaggies and all. While the standard-def mode is basically a throwaway mode, it does a good job of highlighting how much the game has benefitted from the HD makeover.

The upgraded visuals highlight Rez's imaginative art style.

Rez's audio is right up there next to its visuals when to comes to selling the whole experience. The game's trace-y music tracks hold up well after all these years and still manage to feel fresh. Better still, the 5.1 upgrade helps highlight the game's finely crafted audio. Everything from the main music tracks to the various, often subtle, sound effects that crop up during a game have some nice kick to them.

From the looks of everything we played and heard, Rez is definitely going to be a game worth picking up when it hits late January. The upgraded visuals really stand out in HD, and the price--800 Microsoft Points--makes it a no brainer to pick up. While it would be nice to have gotten some extra content, preferably new levels or something along those lines, Rez HD still packs a lot of appeal and is one to watch out for next month.

Discussion

119 comments
R4BI3S
R4BI3S

If it enables custom soundtracks I'm in!

TreyTable
TreyTable

I dunno.. Rez just won't be the same without mouse control.. (Dreamcast version.. never tried on PS2..)

fl4rty
fl4rty

dollmakers its a pretty original game, go back and carry on with the same old generic tripe then

dollmaker1
dollmaker1

Sorry I dident get it.. Why would anyone wanna buy a wireframe lame game?

arbo303
arbo303

This is one of my favorite games ever. You have to be a rhythmic person to like it. Gorgeous cult favorite.

chakan2
chakan2

Anyone know the exact release date yet?

If you haven't played the original, you should definetly pick this up. It's one of the all time classic games just due to it's art style and audio. It's mediocure gameplay, but absoluly stunny to look at and hear.

pispico
pispico

Looks a little bit weird, but the graphics looks good

Rockspeed
Rockspeed

I badly can wait to play Rez again...

345669
345669

Looks Great, Might Just Buy it

LiliShake
LiliShake

@jay_french_cool With XBLA, it'll have a lot more exposure, it'll be cheaper, it won't be held back by not being on many stores' shelves, and everyone can try it for free. I figure it could be a very popular XBLA title. I have it, and I have to tell you that once you get it in your hands you'll realize how brilliant it is. Oh, and I think the music is still awesome. Also, @dollmaker1 Are you kidding me? Rez looks SO much better than the vast majority of stuff available. It may not push the system to it's technical limits, but it pushes the artistic envelope of what can be done in a game. I'm just waiting for the water-colored sprite movement of the late PS1 era to make a return. :) That would look so amazing in HD. (p.s. I love how i referenced that as if it were a recognized period of art history.)

SMGrawks
SMGrawks

Good idea for a game! It would be ideal if you could use any of your own music and the game could figure out how to configure the gameplay for it, but we shall see.

dollmaker1
dollmaker1

Sorry I didn't get the game.. It has no graphics.. why would someone wanna buy it? whats this game?

synapticflow
synapticflow

Rez is awesome. One thing though... techno goes through so many changes. They should have updated the soundtrack. The original music sounds a little dated now. Agreed?

Aretorihc
Aretorihc

This is one game I regret missing out on. I can't wait to pick it up and play it for the first time. :-)

brokentrash
brokentrash

I have the ps2 game and love it. Sadly I don't have a 360 to take advantage of how beautiful this game looks. Its not enough to warrant buying a 360 but I know I'd get this asap.

jay_french_cool
jay_french_cool

it'll b similiar to when it am out on ps2 - it will be great, but no one will buy it, shame...all though, it will b interesting 2 c how much it will cost on xbl.

Redhairboy491
Redhairboy491

Seems like its gonna be a lot like psyconauts, a game that would be fun with a bong. Not that ive ever done that stuff or anything....a friend told me....ya a friend....

deceptikub
deceptikub

This game is a classic. I'm glad it's coming out on XBLA.

firebird23
firebird23

I never played this when it was out on the PS2. I might give it a try when it comes out.

yahtzee0
yahtzee0

I hope you can get the vibrator that came with the first release of the game. ;)

Dreski83
Dreski83

I love shooters, so anything crazy looking like Rez has my attention ;)

HoffmanSony
HoffmanSony

Now all we need is another Panzer Dragoon game and I will be happy :)

vahid_xbox_360
vahid_xbox_360

oh it reminds me of my old dream . wow it was very neat.

Agermemnon
Agermemnon

Well with it in hd ( no res stated here though ? ) widescreen and with 5.1 audio this should be good although i wish it was IKARUGA that was due out soon rather than rez but oh well . @ Reqwez i think specsavers are still doing eye tests on the cheap and a two for the price of one on selected frame...........i suggest you take em up on the offer pal .

oxytocin
oxytocin

I played this on Dreamcast :) This is truly artistic.

lamprey263
lamprey263

I'm looking forward to both this an Omega Five... I just wish one of these would come out already

RgvXavi
RgvXavi

Rez is not coming out on PSN, seriously? why?

Reqwez
Reqwez

Graphics look like ps2, or ps2 game was better.

blegarda
blegarda

I can't wait to play this game in HD and 5.1 audio! The original game was incredible!

kaorikaori1992
kaorikaori1992

yooo!! i remember this join on the ps2 now its on xbox live? cool, too bad its not in the playstation market place too bummer but ill still get it in live

capitalthoughts
capitalthoughts

X360 owners are in for a treat. I own Rez for my PS2 and I can say without a doubt that it is truly an exciting experience. You can't know anything about the game from screenshots. To play it is to understand and love it. The original Rez looks spectacular and the HD won't hurt it either.

drangel_jam
drangel_jam

I think Q Entertainment games somestimes have too much going on on the screen, and this kinda puts off some people. E.g., their last game on like, some kind of rhythm game that somewhat plays like a shooter. I find intimidating and its hard to know what's going on at first. Lumines is great, but h3ll it's expansive (size) with all those extra downloads, which in turn make it very expensive as well.

eljono
eljono

this game looks rediculous.can't tell whats going on.

JohnTheGamer
JohnTheGamer

Like you kenb6870 I also missed it when it came out and am looking forward to it.

kenb6870
kenb6870

I can't wait!! I missed it when it was on the PS2 and the Dreamcast...

ryaz_weaponx
ryaz_weaponx

Looks very different frm the other games ive seen.

TheLastSith
TheLastSith

This is looking great! I can't wait.

XeroComplex
XeroComplex

Looks interesting. And I feel bad for the PS3... it has SOOO much potential. I don't have one, but if it didn't start out at 500 and 600 dollars each... well maybe I would have had that over my 360.

sirelfblood
sirelfblood

I can't believe that this isn't coming out on the PSN. So many people are losing faith for the PS3 and its future by the minute. What has Sony got so wrong?

MisterShak
MisterShak

This looks like my first Xbox Live Arcade purchase. Can't wait.

Arkk_Angel
Arkk_Angel

"I think the market for this game is with the Wii userbase as opposed to the Xbox" "for the life of me, i can't work out how you would come to that conclusion" I think Xbox owners like more "mature" games and less experimental. As I said, i could be wrong. We'll see what happens when this game is released.

DFTricks
DFTricks

I wonder if the vibrator will also be available or is the PS2 version will work on the 360??? :S

sdauz
sdauz

humm who buys XBL downloadable games apart from geometry wars

ukillwegrill
ukillwegrill

Word Puszzle was a waste os space Games like REZ and Worms and even titles developed by new teams are the future of Xbox Arcade