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reviews >> playstation 2

written by Shaun McCracken

Game Information
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Harmonix
Year Released: 2003
Players: 1-4
ESRB Rating: Teen

Visuals 9
It's definitely one strange and wonderful game to look at. Each stage is full of color and unique architecture, and presents each artist with something different. If you were ever able to see the sound of music, I'm sure it would look a lot like this.
Audio 9.5
Amplitude would be nothing without sound, because it is all about music. Most of the music in the game I like, and I believe there's enough variety in the soundtrack to please everyone. I also like some of the sound distortion effects, such as the "slow-mo" power-up when it's deployed.
Gameplay 9.75
Amplitude is one of those games that looks pretty intimidating if you look at screenshots or watch videos of it's gameplay, but if you go through the helpful tutorial, it's really easy to get into. This is by far one of the most fun and mentally stimulating games to come around in a long time. It's gameplay is far from generic, and it can be very addictive.
Replay Value 9.5
25 or so songs/stages to play through, along with 4 difficulty levels that actually do get much harder the further along you go. It's a very addictive game that will have you challenging your previous scores over and over again, and finding new lines to score big. There's also a "remix" mode, as well as online play. This one's a keeper.
Reviewer's Impression 9.75
Amplitude took me by suprise for a couple of reasons. For one, I didn't realize how fun and addictive this game could be. It was something I wanted to try, but I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy it. The other thing was that Amplitude proved to me that there are innovative games on the PS2. I was starting to thing that this system was becoming a dumping ground for a mediocre games that are not really worth playing. This game was a breath of fresh air.
Overall 9.5
Amplitude could be the beginning of a new type of puzzle game, where we take two types of media (music and video games), and bring them together for one pretty amazing interactive experience. It's smart, highly playable and very tough to put down. Highly recommended.

These days, I often wonder what ever happened to video games that required reflex, skill and a high demand of hand to eye coordination. Sure, it's great to have offerings that place you in immersive worlds or have some fairly insightful gameplay. But we usually do not see "twitch games" come around anymore. Occasionally, we get tossed a bone or two, such as Um Jammer Lammy, Space Channel 5 or the occasional light gun game. Amplitude, the sequel to 2001's FreQuency manages to bring back gaming that is not only an assult on your senses, but also bring back gaming that forces you to think on your toes. If you were to see Amplitude without playing it, you would probably be intimidated by how the game flows. It's often fast-paced, depending on the song you choose (speed is determined by BPM), and can often look very complicated. But by going through an in-depth tutorial, Amplitude is suprisingly easy to grasp, yet very hard to put down.

The design of Amplitude can best be described as a nusic themed animatic ride, where to keep on moving from start to finish, you will need to blast open capsules that release pieces of the music track. It's a game that has no real story, but that's fine. I can think of it as a chance to play with music. There are a few modes to Amplitude, which include the Solo player mode, Multiplayer mode, Remix mode and the Online mode. Within these modes are practice stages, tutorials, main stages and a chance to play your custom remixes or ones you can download online. I would say that all play modes, be it Solo, Multiplayer or Online provide a wealth of longevity. In the solo mode, you can choose from four difficulty levels, and they do get harder as you move along. While there's only 25 songs in the whole game, you will be playing some over again to best your score. And the score also determines wether you can have access to a bonus song or not. The Multiplayer mode is a battle to see who can score the most. I've never been able to go online (don't have a modem), I assume the gameplay is similar to the multiplayer mode. You can also download custom remixes.

The stages in Amplitude are basically songs that you play through. Your first three stages consist of POD's "Boom" remixed by the Crystal Method, Garbage's "Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)", and Quarashi's "Baseline. Once you get through the first three, you unlock the boss song, and if you score high enough in that set, you get a bonus song. There are 5 sets (arenas) of songs to go through, and they only get tougher as you move along. Some of the later artists include Weezer, David Bowie, Pink and Blink 182, which has one of the fastest and hardest songs in the game. While I would say the difficulty ranges by the BPM of each song, I think that's only a piece of the difficulty. Sure, Garbage's "Cherry Lips" may only be 116 BPM (compared to Blink 182's much higer BPM), but in the later difficulties such as brutal, there are a lot more capsules to blast and tougher patterns to play through. This is why it's both addictive and frustrating. You'll come across complicated patterns, but with enough practice, you can complete them without thinking about it. It's kind of cool, really, having the feeling that you got through something complicated without thinking about it too much.

The graphics of the game are pretty wild. As I said earlier, it feels like a music-themed animatic. The action takes place "on-rails", but that really doesn't matter since you need to take care of the capsules. The worlds here are much more open and complex than FreQuency's. I haven't played the mentioned title, but I have seen screenshots. Most stages in that game look like they take place in tunnels. While Amplitude does have a few stages like that (the boss stages), the majority of the game is a ride of color, flying shapes, high-rises and so much more. It's also kind of distracting, too. You really want to focus on blasting on the capsules, but the background tries to steal the show. The framerate stays constant (although how could it not) and the lines are fairly smooth. Not a whole lot of graphical depth, but it does very for each stage, and presents each stage with something special.

The sound is very good. Again, how could it not? But in a game that is entirely music driven, sound quality matters. Each song is fairly sharp, with the only problem being that when you are in the process of clearing a pattern, that paticular piece of the music is louder. It's also kind of funny to hear some songs without certain parts of the song (such as a missing guitar or vocal track), and the slow-mo effect is pretty humorous. Not too much to gripe about here. You also have the option to have the game in DPLII.

Final Thought

Amplitude is a fairly trippy game to look at (or play), but it's also one that finally forces a little more thought, concentration and reaction on the player's part. Harmonix has shown us that we've had it easy in games latley, and it's time to have your ass handed to you. It's not often that a game such as this feels this refreshing out of the ordinary gaming fare, and if you love music just a little, you will enjoy Amplitude. Do not let the gamne intimidate you, it's easy to get in to.