In 2001, Rez was released, rather unceremoniously in Japan and Europe at the end of the Dreamcast's life. In the U.S., it fared even worse, not even seeing a release on its native system, but only on rival Sony's Playstation 2. With little fanfare and advertising, the game sold poorly.
Dreamcast enthusiasts began importing the game and tracking down the few copies available. Word spread, and soon the same started happening with the PS2 version. As it seems, Rez was to be a cult classic in the making.
2008 saw the release of Rez HD on the X-Box Live Arcade. Featuring remixed sounds and upgraded visuals, the game had one of the best launches on the Live Arcade. Maybe Rez was ahead of its time, or maybe people just couldn't track it down, but it had finally got the recognition it deserved.
The world has become massively overpopulated. The rapidly expanding network society has been crippled by rising crime rates and is on the verge of meltdown.
A new system, "Project-K", has been created in an attempt to resolve the situation. At the core of the system is an artificial intelligence center named "Eden".
Eden has more advanced A.I. than any machine that has ever previously existed. It has the ability to process vast amounts of information at once, and to use that information to form its own uniquely advanced independent thoughts. Some would say that Eden has even developed a consciousness.
However, Eden became confused when the flow of information being sent to it began to greatly increase in speed and volume. Eden started to question the meaning of its existence and the consequences of its actions. Finding itself surrounded by paradoxes, and realizing the power of autonomy which it possessed, Eden began to shut itself down.
Now you are about to travel into the cyberspace of the Project-K Network on a mission to re-awaken Eden. You must gain access to each area and the level of the system, destroying any Viruses and Firewalls you encounter.
Open your senses...
As far as playing the game, it's a standard on-rails shooter. Take Panzer Dragoon and remove the rotation and dragon movement. Now you've got the controls down. What separates Rez from the other shooters, though, is the use of sound when playing the game. Every time the fire button is pressed or an enemy is shot, a sound plays. Hold down the fire button and link up to eight shots together, creating a small melodic line. The trance (house, or whatever electronic style) music in the background pumps along, while all of the shots and destruction of the enemies add accents and melodies on top of the beat. Music has been able to evoke an emotional response, and Rez relies on this to create a result that is strangely immersive.
For more, check out the Rez review.
Rez is a game that's all about evolution. From Eden growing from a simple program into electronic consciousness to the great civilizations shown in each area, Rez is telling the story of evolution. The different forms are no different. As the player collects blue-colored pieces throughout the levels, the protagonist will evolve into a new form. Take a hit though, and the hacker will revert to a previous level. Each form does more than provide an extra life, as firing time and enemy lock-on ability increase.
Level 00 - The lowest form is simply a ball made of triangles. Geometric and mathematic in nature, it mirrors Eden's inital beginnings. The sphere bounces with the music, but does little else.
Level 01 - Level 00 evolves into a humanoid shape, but it's made from stacks of planar quadrilaterals. Perhaps it's a digital shell that hasn't quite gained conciousness, but the seeds have been planted.
Level 02 - The next evolution incorporates a spine and a skeletal system; more growth and another step up the evolutionary ladder.
Level 03 - As the hacker continues to grow, it is completely fleshed out and reaches its most human form.
Level 04 - Afterwards, the protragonist takes up in the Lotus position, with his legs crossed over one another, meditating to find a higher ground. A spherical shield surrounds its body as it searches for enlightenment.
Level 05 - Finally, it becomes more than human, something greater.
Just like the forms, the Areas in the game are showing growth of some form as well. Though it's easy to miss if you don't keep an eye out for it, each area is set in a specific time and culture, all great civilizations that have been replaced with another.
Area 1 - Egyptian Civilization
Boss: The EARTH
Music: "Buggie Running Beeps" by Keiichi Sugiyama
Area 2 - Indian Civilization
Music: "Protocol Rain" by Mist
Area 3 - Mesopotamian Civilization
Music: "Creation The State of Art (Part 1-6)" by Ken Ishii
Area 4 - Chinese Civilization
Music: "Rock is Sponge" by Jojouka
Area 5 - Birth
Music: "Fear" by Adam Freeland
Area 5 text
"A great prosperity came, as life conquered even the highest mountains...
Mass extinctions came wave after wave...
but empty niches always quickly refilled...
to once again prosper, grow, and reproduce...
Someday the next great emigration will occur...
as we leave this existence looking for another...
The journey will begin anew...
I hold within me all the memories that have passed...
Who am I..."
Eden is gradually assembled piece by piece and it's over, right? Yes and no. If the shot down ratio is less than 95% for Area 5, Eden will shatter and crumble, leaving only the note "She is still trapped inside."
Greater than 95%, and Eden will give herself a big hug. Summoning the spirit of Descartes, she voices the words, "I am" and finds herself. Butterflies float through the credits.
Get a 100%, though, and in the process, Eden will release a pink butterfly.
After finishing Rez, there's a plethora of modes and extras that are unlocked. Most of these are found in the "Beyond Mode," which puts a different spin on the existing levels.
Direct Assault - Play every level of the game in order from start to finish. After completing, a new color scheme becomes available, listed below:
|Direct Assault||Complete Area 5 in Play Mode|
|Ambient||Complete Direct Assault|
|Punk||Complete Direct Assault - Ambient|
|Oldschool||Complete Direct Assault - Punk|
|Psychedelic||Complete Direct Assault - Oldschool|
|Trance||Complete Direct Assault - Psychedelic|
Lost Area - This is a mission that was cut from the game. To unlock it, finish Area 5 in Play mode or log 5 hours of time into the game.
Trancemission - A looping level that seems to serve no purpose, it's unlocked by achieving a 1st place ranking in the Lost Area.
Boss Rush - Like playing the bosses? Would you like to play them all in a row? Then shoot down more than 95% in each of the five game Areas.
Forms - Tired of starting at the same Level each time? Then do the following:
|Level 00||Shoot down 100% on any level or play the game 5 hours|
|Level 01||Shoot down 100% on any level or play the game 5 hours|
|Level 02||Shoot down 100% on any two levels or play the game 6 hours|
|Level 03||Shoot down 100% on any three levels or play the game 7 hours|
|Level 04||Shoot down 100% on any four levels or play the game 8 hours|
|Level 05||Shoot down 100% on all five level or play the game 9 hours|
|Morolian||Gain Level 5 and Collect 100% Support items on all levels or play the game 10 hours|
Immortal - To gain immortality, clear all of the direct assault modes.
Beam Types - Each form of the hacker has a different beam, with faster lock-on and fire rates as the levels are climbed. To select the beam type, do the following:
|Beam 1||Clear Score Attack 5 times|
|Beam 2||Clear Score Attack 10 times|
|Beam 3||Clear Score Attack 15 times|
|Beam 4||Clear Score Attack 20 times|
|Beam 5||Clear Score Attack 25 times|
|Beam 6||Clear Score Attack 30 times|
Overdrive Infinity - Get infinite overdrives (will disable high score entry when in use) by ranking 1st in boss mode.
Camera Views - To change your perspective, do what it says below:
|Near||Rank 1st in Area 2 Score Attack|
|Far||Rank 1st in Area 3 Score Attack|
|Dynamic||Rank 1st in Area 4 Score Attack|
|First Person||Rank 1st in Area 5 Score Attack|
Before there was Rez...
Throughout the design process, games go through a lot of changes. Features are added and removed, extras are thrown in the game, the playing system is refined, unnecessary bits get thrown to the wayside, the graphics are tweaked. The list goes on and on, sometimes to the point that the entire concept of the game is changed. Other times, the game doesn't even it make it out alive, instead ending up somewhere between the chopping block and a desert landfill surrounded by copies of E.T. the Extraterrestrial.
Rez is no different. Originally starting out as the mysteriously-codenamed K-Project, Rez was to be a 3D shooter, but more in the vein of Panzer Dragoon. Early video and screenshots show the main character in a much more human-like state - almost like a mannequin - rather than the orbs and polygonal forms it would end up as in the final game. Instead of floating through space, the character walked across the ground. The targeting system worked much like Panzer Dragoon, with a radar in the corner of the screen displaying where enemies were coming from in relation to the player. The camera was spun and rotated around on the players own accord, rather than the limited degrees of motion it currently is.
The K-Project concept still survived. In the credits of Rez, Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky is thanked for the inspiration. Naturally, he is the "K".
As the game progressed, it would also be known as a couple of other names - Project Eden and Vibes.
As Rez started shaping up to its current form, it had to have some appropriate music. The tunes would be provided by Underworld. Their songs "Born Slippy NUXX" and "Cowgirl" would make an appearance in the game, which at this point, was known by a different name: Vibes.
In March of 2008, Vibes was leaked online. Dated 2001/06/01 (Build 036), it's really close to the final version of the game, with a few major differences. Of course, the most notable is the music. Adam Freeland's "Fear is the Mindkiller" from Area 5 is in the game with a slightly different arrangement, but the rest of the tunes are provided by Underworld. As expected, there is a little slowdown and the occasional bug. To help track them down, a development console to available allowing the game's settings to be controlled directly. Pacing, enemy locations, and some backgrounds are different than the final, but if you showed it to someone who had only seen screenshots, but never played Rez, they probably wouldn't notice a difference. Bosses are slightly changed as well, but nothing too major, with the exception of Eden.
A few differences:
- Tracks by Underworld.
- VMU graphic is different
- Players can continue if they are destroyed at Level 00
- The Options menu has a weird looking girl (like from The Ring)
- The Save file for the game is labeled either "j | o" or "j l o". (I don't know if it's supposed to be Jenny from Down the Block or not.)
Although Areas 1 through 4 remain largely the same, Area 5 saw a few more changes before release. Songs are differentthroughout the game, but Area 5 uses the same tune with a different mix, one that has repeating "Fear" audio loops throughout. None of the text describing "evolution" is included in this level. Once Area 5 is finished, the "Area 5 logout" screen appears rather than quietly transporting players to Area 6. Instead of the "Why are you here?" texts, there are a lot of explosions, which eventually reveal the names and forms of the bosses about to be fought. They include:
- Earth Arm 10x20
- Mars Claw 16x8
- Venus Wall 8x24
- Uranus Snake (I see a joke in this somewhere...) 24x8
After finishing each boss, no power-ups are released as in the final. Instead, more exploded text appears to reveal the next boss.
Throughout this last Area, there is no music. When Eden is finally reached, the camera is located right up next to her, instead of far away, making things way trickier, since enemies are firing from the front and behind. The level looks pretty much the same layout-wise, but the enemies themselves are a little different. There are a lot of missiles flying around, being fired from the objects that ride the tracks surrounding Eden. This time, they can be destroyed easily, instead of taking repeated shots like in the final. Eventually, large orange orbs will appear and after several shots, they release fragments of Eden, who is gradually pieced back together.
Movies still appear showing her reconstruction, but this time they seem longer, and show different scenes in the back - a cell dividing, landing on the moon, and lots of landscapes, such as deserts, waterfalls, forests, and the like - all of which is stamped "Digital Film" in the corner.
After finishing the level, there are no endings, no credits. All the ratings (Analyzation, Shot Down, Support Item) are 100%. No beyond mode is opened up, but by selecting the "Replay" option, a recording of the last level played can be viewed.
Of course, things continued to change a bit after the game was called Vibes. The deal with Underworld fell through and their tracks wouldn't be used in the game. The levels were fitted with other tunes that kept the same flow and pacing, and the game was renamed "Rez." Just like Kandisky with the K-Project, Underworld would still leave their mark on the game.
Did You Know?
- In addition to Underworld, Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers were close to having tracks included with Rez
Rez at Hardcore Gaming 101 - An awesome site with a nice feature on Rez, including info on Kandinsky, the trance vibrator, and a ton of screenshots.