It's not every day that a Dreamcast title gets re-released for a new generation of consoles, and when one does manage the transition it's safe to assume that there's usually good reason for said update. With Rez Infinite we're getting the chance to (re)play one of the seminal rhythm shooters, this time on PlayStation 4 and, if you've got one, in virtual reality via PSVR.
That in itself will be enough for some, perhaps even justification to pick up a headset in the first place, because Rez has a very particular allure and fans have long been in love with the unique style of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's modern musical masterpiece. The uniqueness manifests itself in this on-rails rhythmic shooter in a number of ways, but most notably in the mesmerising visuals and the toe-tapping soundtrack.
The original has been faithfully updated for PS4, and you remain a body floating through an etherial digital landscape. There's lots to shoot at, but Rez uses a mechanic whereby you lock on to a target (up to eight of them, in fact) and it's only once you've released the trigger that you fire off your shots and take down your enemies. There's a little bit of movement, but for the most part you're coasting along on rails, soaking up the atmosphere while you expel bullets.
It's not a hugely challenging game and you'll have it completed in less than two hours, but once you've seen the credits roll you unlock a score attack mode across the original five areas, some bonus content in the form of a direct assault mode and the "lost area" (another level), which in turn unlocks the trance mission and a boss rush mode. These are nice trimmings built around the original mode, and there's also the small matter of the new level, Area X.
The base game is certainly the main event. Even after all these years it's still effortlessly playable. This silky smooth shooter was way ahead of its time and stands up to this day. While it can be turned around in a relatively short period of time, it's elegantly designed and soothingly immersive to the point where you'll want to play it through more than once, to soak up more of the atmosphere while aiming for that often elusive high score.
It works great in VR, too. Certain sections will have you whipping your head around to lock on to targets to the rear, but for the most part you're taking aim and firing off shots at targets that weave in and out of your forward facing view. You can use a Move controller if you like, or you can drag the reticle across the screen with an analog stick, although we found that the head-tracking worked brilliantly, and aiming with the ol' noggin while firing with the controller was a very comfortable way of playing the game.
Then there's Area X, which like the rest of the game can be played in and out of VR, and has clearly been built to showcase a possible future for Rez in this new age of virtual reality. The on-rails part of the original makes way for a freer control scheme, and you can boost forwards and fly up and around the 3D environment. Like the original content it's visually striking and a pleasure to behold, and the stunning visual design fits around the adapted concept like a glove.
Having said that, we still preferred the original campaign over this new chapter, largely because the on-rails nature of the first five areas keeps things more focused. A couple of times during our time with the new area we lost our bearings, and when looking around as we were flying through the air in search of our next target, we started to get the first hints of nausea.
We got through it though, and motion sickness wasn't really an issue overall, so we're not complaining. In fact, there's very little to complain about across the board, and even the new content is still worthwhile, a tantalising glimpse of what Rez 2 might look like. Perhaps you could put a question mark over the value proposition at launch, as it feels like it has been given premium pricing and there's not a huge amount of game here unless you're willing to return for repeat plays.
However, if you are up for multiple play-throughs and high score chasing then you're in luck. Mizuguchi's genre defining rhythm shooter has aged very well indeed and still feels fresh and immediate, and any age-revealing wrinkles are worn with pride. The classic soundtrack from the original and the new tunes from Area X work well together (and listening with the 3D sound enabled on the PSVR headset is a feast for the ears), and the whole thing is a visual treat from start to finish. It might be a little steep in terms of price, but Rez has still got it after all these years. A great game, and a great fit for PlayStation VR.
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