Review: Rez HD

January 30, 2008

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Having played the Dreamcast and PS2 version of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Rez, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the Xbox Live Arcade version of the game, Rez HD, since it was announced back in September ‘07. The game was finally released today, and I couldn’t be happier.

While the original Dreamcast version will cost you about $50 on eBay, and the PS2 version running at least $30, the Live Arcade version is only 800 Microsoft Points, or $10 – an absolute steal!

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Hopefully you’ve figured out that the “HD” in Rez HD means that the game has undergone a visual face lift. It now runs in full 720p with 5.1 surround sound. The game looks absolutely fantastic, and plays equally as well. The controls are very simple – use the left analog stick to target your enemies, and hold down the A button to lock on to up to eight at once, Panzer Dragoon style. You can not technically move your character, but you will notice yourself moving around slightly depending on where you’re aiming the target reticle.

All of the Mizuguchi goodness from the previous iterations from the game are present, Tetsuya himself was quoted saying that the game was “100% the same game” as the original. But to top things off and please even the most hardcore, there is an option to play the original game exactly as it appeared on the Dreamcast. This does not have to be unlocked, and is available right from the main menu. However, with the gameplay exactly intact, the HD version is the way to go when it comes to reliving this sensory euphoria all over again. Unique to the Xbox version is the capability to have three trance vibrators running at the same time.

A “trance vibrator” is what they called the extra peripheral that came with the special edition of the PS2 version of Rez, released only in Japan. This was a USB-device that was essentially a souped-up rumble pack, capable of rumbling much stronger than the Duelshock. The trance vibrator thumps along with the beat of the music to appeal to your sense of touch, while the game overwhelms your sense of sight and sound with its beautiful vector-visuals and trance music. Mizuguchi has stated that he did not originally intend for the trance vibrator to ever be used for any sexual reasons, but ever since Game Girl Advance’s story about how she used the device, the internet can’t seem to think of anything else whenever Rez gets mentioned.

When you have extra 360 controllers turned on, you can enter the options menu and enable them as trance vibrators. While playing, I liked to either set an extra controller on my stomach/lap while playing, or place it in between my feet on the floor. The vibrations aren’t a distraction, like some people may think, but instead only immerse you even deeper into the gameplay.

Lots of unlockables, Live leaderboards, and the unique trance vibrator support make this a must-have title on the Xbox 360, especially if you’re one of the sad souls who has never played it before. It’s less than a third of the price you’ll find it anywhere else, and it’s better. Sit down with a friend, let them hold a trance-vibrator, and take turns experiencing true synesthesia. Even if you play this game by yourself though (it is only single player, after all), you won’t be dissapointed. You’ll see why lots of gamers consider Mizuguchi’s masterpiece an almost religious experience – especially after you beat the final area of the game.


Gaming with energy, when you want something healthy

January 28, 2008

 

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It’s after midnight, but you just started the raid. You’re tired, but you know if you drink one more Red Bull, you’re going to crash and burn in an hour or so, much to the dismay of your fellow guild members. Sound familiar? Maybe you’re at a LAN party, dawn is breaking and you’re hungry again, but can’t stomach the idea of one more piece of pizza. As ridiculous as it may sound, there are better ways for gamers to get energy than eating greasy foods that play hell with controllers and keyboards, and drinking energy drinks that give us terrible caffeine headaches!

Here’s three great foods that aren’t nearly as bad for you as pizza and coke, but will work a hell of a lot better at giving you the energy you need, long after the sun’s gone down.

Fruit and Nuts

Oranges, apples, cherries, berries, kiwis and raisins – fruit has a lot of vitamin B and C. Nuts and even some fruits have a lot of fiber, and when your body is getting vitamins and fiber, your blood sugar levels stay stable and you’re able to produce energy more efficiently. Never had dried limes before? They’re delicious.

Beef Jerky

Fact: beef and chicken contain a lot of protein. This protein contains something called tyrosine, which is an amino acid that helps your brain produce all sorts of things to enhance mental function. Jerky is easy to pick up at 24-hour gas stations or supermarkets, unlike pizza. Also, mental function is commonly considered a good thing, and will keep you on top of your game. If you’re feeling particularly healthy, pick up some USDA organic jerky.

Seaweed

Ok, so it’s not the easiest snack to find, and it’s not exactly traditional here in America, but you can’t ignore the health benefits, let alone the energy boost you’ll get after snacking on some. Seaweed has a broad range of vitamins and minerals, and containts two of the B-vitamins your body uses to make energy. My favorite are these seaweed-wrapped rice crackers – crispy and delicious! And if you’re not keen on buying snacks off of the internet, try a local Asian market, they’re sure to have several varieties.


Gamefly launches music service… kind of

December 6, 2007

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Yesterday Gamefly launched its new music service creatively named “Gamefly Tunes”. Gamefly subscribers now have access to an overwhelming selection of five pre-selected, DRM-free tracks to legally download each month for no extra fees other than their normal monthly bill. Non-subscribers aren’t left out completely, being able to download one of the songs for free. The first “track of the month” is the song “Get It” by RJD2, and the Gamefly Tunes VIP members lounge currently offers the remaining four tracks by OK Go, Little Brother, Shadows Fall, and Thievery Corporation.

While it’s nice to see Gamefly offering some added value to their paying customer’s subscriptions, I can’t help but think they could be putting the effort into working on current problems with the whole game-renting service. It never fails to aggravate me when I have a game in my game queue for a week or so, only to be shipped the third game on the list once they receive the title I sent in last.

With so many fantastic titles released over the last couple of months, Gamefly is the perfect service to be able to play all of the games I didn’t have time or money to spend on when they came out. However, with my queue so jammed with “low availability” and “medium availability” notices, it’s getting harder and harder to stomach the $22.99 per month.

Here’s hoping the next email Gamefly sends out to its subscribers is to inform them of a new shipment center for faster turnaround times, or a significant boost in the number of copies of new releases they have available for rent.