Rez HD review

Rez HD

[originally posted at Sega Nerds]

How do you justify paying $10 for a 6-year-old game? With Rez HD, it’s easy.

Rez HD
Developer: Q Entertainment
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release: 01/30/08
Platform: Microsoft Xbox Live Arcade
Players: 1

Rez was originally released in late 2001 on Sega’s doomed Dreamcast, and was never published in America. The game was then ported to Sony’s PlayStation 2 in early 2002 with an extremely limited print run, making it an instant collector’s item. Copies were soon selling for twice the retail price on eBay auctions.

The game was recently re-released (again) on Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade platform on their Xbox 360 console under the new title Rez HD. This port now supports high-definition widescreen resolution visuals and 5.1 surround sound, but none of the actual game itself has been altered, making it the ideal version for those who have never played the game before.

Rez HD‘s release on Xbox Live Arcade marks an important milestone in the game’s history, because it’s the first time the game has been readily available to a mass market in the United States. The Dreamcast version was only available to importers, while the PlayStation 2 version sold out quickly to collectors and enthusiasts. Thanks to the efforts of creator and producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi and his company Q Entertainment, anyone with an Xbox 360 can now own the game for a very reasonable fee.

Rez is an on-rails shooter, fundamentally similar to the StarFox and Panzer Dragoon series of games. Stylistically, Rez is completely distinctive. The game eschews realistic graphics for a very surreal and stylized experience, using wireframes and bold colors to match the pulsating trance soundtrack. Additionally, the player’s actions have a direct impact on the game’s soundtrack and visuals, as shots and explosions are timed to the music and create bursts of color that sometimes mimic sound waves.

While the game only features five areas, each provides a different experience visually and aurally. Rez HD also contains all of the extras of the previous console versions, omitting nothing to ensure the complete Rez package. Alternate game modes, color schemes, extra options and areas provide a new take for veteran players and extend replayability.

Rez remains one of the outstanding examples of stellar game design, with a unified vision matching sounds and sights wrapped around basic but solid gameplay mechanics. Rez HD is a highly recommended purchase to newcomers and Rez veterans alike, as the newly polished graphics and soundtrack have something new to offer even to those already familiar with the game. Rez HD is the definitive version of one of gaming’s most unique experiences, and at 800 Microsoft Points (the equivalent of $10 USD) it’s an absolute bargain.