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Rez HD

Digital Landscapes

Of course, what’s made Rez such an underground hit isn’t just the streamlined gameplay and the haxxor-centric but barely relevant storyline, oh no. The original Rez was well received for something else entirely – the graphics and music.

By now you’ve seen some of the screenshots of the game, if only on the first page, and you’ve probably pondered on the unusual graphical style. You may think it’s clever and stylish or you may think that it’s foreboding and indicative of a dangerously unintuitive game. Well, it doesn’t matter what you think – I’m here to tell you that the only thing it is, is brilliant.

The way the minimalist lines of neon ripple and undulate as you pass by, throwing out hundreds of silent, invisible lazer beams. The way the viewpoint swims and dives out of your control. The way the second controller vibrates and pulses away to the music from a quiet nesting place in your crotch – all of it pulls together wonderfully to create a sensual and mind-fogging experience.

So, the second controller; I kind of threw that in there for shock value rather than leading up to it gently like I was planning to. No matter – let’s just run with it.

You see, the original version of Rez came with a nifty little force feedback called the trance vibrator which pulsed in rhythm to the music and action of the game with scary accuracy. The idea was, I guess, that you’d hold on to the vibrator while you played to get a heightened sense of synesthesia.

Rez HD On Vibro-love
Click to enlarge

You can probably already see what actually happened with this unusual gaming output/sex toy.

Since Rez HD isn’t seeing a massive retail release and is being distributed digitally, the vibrator idea isn’t really an option and Microsoft has instead enabled the same function through extra Xbox 360 controllers. Rez is a singleplayer game through and through, so rather than let those extra pads go to waste, players can put them to use in the best way possible.

You can hook up to four controllers to the game, giving you three points of pleasure and a point from which to control it all. You can put them wherever you want or disable them completely if you end up playing in front of easily offended family members.

Of course, we do have some basic advice on how to get the most out of the controllers; between the legs is fun, strapped to the back of your head is not. I used a scarf to lock one to my forehead and tried to give myself a shiatsu massage with another, but all I got was a migraine. It’s much better if you grip one in your thighs or put on the small of your back.

And yes, if we have to go there, the vibrating controllers do apparently make the game good for two player gaming sessions between couples. And no, Richard and I didn’t try that. Eww.

Rez HD On Vibro-love
Click to enlarge

Rez HD does come with a bucketful of extra options to make it more interesting and there’s more to the game than the vaguely guilty feeling that arises from abusing a colleague’s peripherals. There’s a good twelve or so extra options in both the graphical and audio menus which give the game a little more depth and the option to play the original SD version is interesting too, if only to see how far graphics have come since then.

The graphical options are especially fun, ranging from muted Sepia effects to the crazy Tile Mode, which pixellates the entire screen massively and makes some parts of the game harder than putting smoke into a beer bottle with a baseball bat.

Conclusions

One of the things that makes Rez so remarkable, assuming you ignore all the vibro-love and pretty colours, is the way it takes a genre commonly regarded as shallow and staid and turns it into something you’ll be begging your friends to play. That alone means it’s worth picking up, especially since it’s only going to set you back 800 measly Microsoft points.

Does Rez HD have flaws? Yes, of course it does – mainly the difficulty curve, which is unreliable at times and jumps around more than a bunny tied to an electric fence. The brevity of the game may also bother some gamers who want to get real value for money but who aren’t interested in the Score Attack mode.

Still, despite that, Rez is a classic and important piece of video game history and the remastered HD version clearly belongs in the collection of any serious gamer. Now, with that said, you’ll have to excuse me – I’ve got a controller to go wipe clean before I give it back to the original owner. Sorry Tim.

Rez HD On Vibro-love

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