Amplitude

Review

posted 4/3/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
For us ‘Stateside gamers, finding a decent music-making simulation is a daunting task. We’re not fortunate enough to have games like Beatmania, Keyboardmania, Drum Mania or Guitar Freaks to quench our tastes. Thankfully the good folks at Sony Computer Entertainment have been kind enough to satiate our palettes by bringing their own flavor of Bemani-style game, Frequency. A year later we receive its sequel, Amplitude but as has been proven in the past, when it comes to weird off-kilter games it's hard to keep pace with the Japanese.

In case you’re not familiar with the premise, imagine that you’re traveling along a highway. Every time you zap a disc-like object it plays a portion of a song. Stringing along those discs will unlock a portion of the track so that you can move on to another. Each of the tracks represents one facet of the song such as the guitar, the drums or the vocals. Thus you have the premise of Amplitude and while it effectively improves upon every facet of its predecessor whether or not that equates to a better game is truly in the mind of the gamer.

For fans of the original this is just what you've been waiting for. As Shaq would say, it's "pure Carmelation." Imagine what it would be like if the guys at Harmonix injected a shot of adrenalin into every facet of Frequency and you have a good idea of what to expect from this game. The same twitch-based action that kept you up all those long nights and the bright and shiny lights that amused your cat and gave your kids seizures are back with a vengeance. Suffice to say, if you liked FreQuency you'll fall in love with Amplitude.

Along with the name change (the previous game was known as FreQuency) there are a whole host of changes. At first glance you’ll notice the complete visual overhaul that takes you from the confines of the tube and out into the open. The game is also populated by an entirely new soundtrack which features 25 tracks from artists of varying genres. The online aspects, the game’s most appealing addition, really extends the life of the game by allowing nearly unlimited replay value. The neat remix mode returns from last year and the single-console multi-player has been enhanced as well.

If you’re the type of person who likes to buy those big bulk variety packs from Costco then you’ll really love Amplitude. However, if you’re one of the more picky people who eats the Cherry and Grape flavors from the Popsicle bulk packs while leaving the Lime flavor to gather frost, you may be turned off by the track selection.

While it tries to cater to everyone in the audience, it spreads itself too thin and effectively alienates the majority of the audience. The soundtrack is composed of a mish-mash selection of Rock, Pop, Trance, Drum N Bass and nearly every other genre you can think of. As you may have guessed, some songs translate into the whole scheme of things much better than others. While I had a great time with songs that I thought I would hate, such as David Bowie’s track, I found myself despising some of the game's tracks. One moment you’re playing an upbeat song like Garbage’s “Cherry Lips” and the next, Slipknot’s “Insert random angst-riddled title here” complete with muffled screams and grunts.
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