This whole approach has been immensely influential – even if you won’t feel that influence in the average FPS or racing game. Without Rez, Geometry Wars, Wipeout Pure, Lumines, Frequency (and through that, possibly, Guitar Hero) might not exist, at least in the form we know them today. Plus, it freed other developers to think in more abstract, less photo-realistic terms. For this alone, it deserves a place in gaming history.
But we’re not here for a history lesson. All you need to know is that Rez HD is Rez reaching its full potential. The visuals, already glorious in standard definition on the PS2 and Dreamcast, now look incredible in full HD on the Xbox 360. Those amazing high-coloured blooms are things of beauty, and the clean lines behind them only look cleaner and more precise. Play it on a big LCD or plasma TV, plug some headphones in or whack the surround sound system up to the point where other members of the household might complain (I recommend the former option if you want to maintain domestic harmony) and Rez is an unbelievable experience – dazzling, hypnotic and totally immersive.
The gameplay remains unaltered and undeniably simplistic, but what hits you playing Rez HD is how polished and lacking in frustration the action is. You always have just enough time to clear obstacles, blast enemy missiles or shoot hostile forces and just enough time to grab power-ups. The boss battles are brilliant; each one a spectacular fight of several different acts, and each past the first being tricky enough to hold you back for one or two goes without proving impassable on the third or fourth.
The fourth boss I alluded to earlier is an all-time classic, the flying saucer in control mustering all sort of shapes from the blocks surrounding him to roll or stomp you out of existence, with the sequence ending up as a frantic chase. The relentless, fluid speed of the graphics and the big beats on the soundtrack turn it into something truly exhilarating. At its best, Rez is every bit as exciting as Call of Duty 4, Project Gotham 4 or any other next-gen game that you could mention. This is something that isn’t mentioned enough in all the high-falutin’ talk of art.