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Rez HD

Review: An artistic, head-banging masterpiece

It's easy to take the piss out of watching people play Guitar Hero and Wii Fit in the office. But until you're sat in front of a computer monitor with a trio of vibrating controllers shoved inside your coat, you just don't know how much of a prat you can look playing a game.

This, in case you're wondering, is a baffling new feature of the head-spinning cult shooter Rez, which has been polished up and re-served via Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft points (about £6.50).

The PS2 original came with a Trance Vibrator - a small vibrating block that shook to the rhythm of the music, which you place, well, wherever you saw fit.

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Rez HD goes one better (or three better) by using any additional connected controllers in replacement for the vibrator. Yes, even if you connect four.

Using carefully-placed pads you can "feel" the beat of the music form all angles. It's wrong, gimmicky and even slightly uncomfortable, but it makes one of the most absorbing shooters even more immersive. Which is exactly the idea behind this even prettier and louder Xbox Live Arcade upgrade...

Bargain synaesthesia
In 2001 we paid a full-whack fifty quid for Mizuguchi's awesome shooter on Dreamcast and haven't regretted it since.

Veterans of the PS2 and Dreamcast versions can expect crisp, upgraded hi-def visuals (which, given its wire-frame nature, we couldn't imagine being improved further), bloom and colour scheme options plus the obligatory online leaderboards.

Unfortunately the addition of 5.1 surround sound seems to have been applied more to the sound effects rather than the music itself, but we're not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.

Short and Sweet
As a Matrix-style computer hacking program, you're mission is to break through the firewall of a rogue AI called 'Eden'. It's locking down her systems, become self-aware and has gone a bit mental. By shooting down hordes of baddies and defeating massive bosses, you endeavour to put things right.

In essence it's a straight-forward on-rails shooter. Using the on-screen cursor you can 'lock-on' to up to eight enemies at once, unleashing your attack to all targets simultaneously and collecting combos in the process. The more enemies you lock on to, the more your score will be multiplied. Remember Panza Dragoon Orta?

It's a solid and addictive set-up with a large variety of enemies, levels and awesome boss battles, but what makes Rez truly unique is Mizuguchi's obsession with Synaesthesia, which, in case you're not a massive art geek, means to "hear" visuals and "see" sound.

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Thanks to plenty of work tinkering with animation and sound effects at original developer UGA (ex-Sega), Rez's distinctive wireframe world syncs almost perfectly with the beat of the soundtrack, pulsing and thumping with every beat.

Interaction is minimal; you're actions aren't making a unique song. Instead Rez sticks to predefined tracks which sync everything, from the shooting sounds and explosions to the backgrounds and flashing colours, together.

The idea sounds gimmicky at first, but as you progress deeper into the game the synergy of sounds and on-screen action totally absorbs you, particularly if you're a fan of pumping house music.

Every so often during your cyberspace combo-ing, a small cube of light will be whisked onto the screen. Upon shooting it you'll be shot a "level" deeper into the system, which is basically a way of building up both the action, visuals and adding to the Trance and Electro soundtrack layer by layer.

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