Friday, June 17, 2011

The first problem was being sober

Children of Eden promises the world by being the unofficial/official followup to Rez. After a few hours of play last night I must say that I am a little disappointed. It's the same game played the same way, but it doesn't look as good or sound as good (or feel as good) as I remember. Rez HD wasn't out that long ago, and by the looks of this review I wrote for it, I kinda liked it:

Describing Rez in literal terms is a great way to keep people from playing it. It is an on rails shooter with interactive music set inside a computer system with the player being a hacker who itrying to shut everything down, and on top of that it is over 5 years old, originally came out on the Dreamcast and can be finished in just over an hour. Meh, on rails shooter will never get better then Panzer Dragoon Orta and Rock Band has the interactive music genre tied up quite nicely, why bother. Thankfully, Rez can be much better described as a sixty minute acid trip that gets better every time it is taken combined with a potential female masturbatory aid. If that doesn't catch a person's attention, nothing will.

Rez is a shooter superficially. Yes, attacking enemies must be destroyed before the player is destroyed. That sentence describes 95% of all the games ever made, EVER, and the basics of the game work well enough. There is a targeting reticule that will lock on to up to eight enemies at a time and bombs for when things get out of hand. The controls work well enough that they are not intrusive, which is important because Rez isn't about shooting things. It isn't really about anything at all, it simply is.

If that sounds a bit existential then good. Rez is about as pure of an experience as a game can be. The shooting aspect has been distilled down to the simplest parts allowing the focus of the game to be on assaulting the senses instead of assaulting the player's reaction time. Every action, from locking on to an enemy to things exploding, makes a unique sound. Each sound fits with the music that is playing, creating the soundtrack on the fly. The player's actions affect the music in a very real way; as he or she improves, the music gets better. Rez must also be seen to be understood; it has lost nothing in the five years since its initial release, and the jump to widescreen high definition is a marvel. The environments of each of the five levels are varied and colorful, building along with the music from simple wireframes to incredibly busy scenes that throb along with the beat. Each level is a character, culminating in bosses that are difficult without being frustrating and that serve as the perfect climax to each area.

As enticing as it can be to see and hear no experience is complete without touching. Most games treat vibration feedback as a coarse indicator of what is already happening on the screen. It becomes little more then another status meter, relentless and imprecise. Vibration feedback in Rez works right alongside the visuals and sounds to pull the player further in. The beat is in the players head and in his hands, everything that is seen is also felt. Rez is not played, it is absorbed. Three additional controllers can be added as trance vibrators (this is the game's definition, not mine) which give separate feedback from the main controller. What happens with those depends on the player's powers of persuasion and how big of a geek his significant other is.

Mine said no. Your mileage may vary.
As a port of an older title Rez has made the transition to current gen very well. The only downside is the previously mentioned vibration. The XB360 does not provide the same strength of feedback as either the Dreamcast of PS2, but that is forgivable. The original version of Rez is included for the purest or the poor and HD-less, which means there is no excuse for anyone not play this. Rez is unique, accessible, and more then a little sexy, just like that cute girl who works at the coffee shop that you never had the guts to talk to. Here is your second chance.

Enough whoring out things I wrote last year. Though I do like it...

Children of Eden is noticeably less edgy, if that makes any sense. The was a darkness just under the surface of Rez. You were fighting a nebulous, intelligent thing that just happened to look cool while being blown up. The music was more intense, lending inescapable malice the the latter boss encounters. The only inescapable malice in Children of Eden are the damn purple bullets that you have to shoot down. It is significantly harder than Rez was, seemingly designed to be played whilst failing ones limbs, and it is no secret as to how I feel about that. So I sat there last night playing it as god intended: with my thumbs.

I got stuck on the penultimate level last night, something else that I don't ever remember happening in Rez. I desperately want to see all the game has to offer, but that requires playing through old level several times to earn enough stars to advance, and then beating your head against a boss that takes ten minutes to get to and then kills you in less than one. I think concessions could have been made here in the name of letting the player have a good time. Save the hard shit for the hard difficulty level. I will still eventually get the end, I just wont have as fond of memories of the trip as I should.

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