"A niche game, but a decent game all the same"
Music rhythm games are nothing new. Amplitude is a sequel to Frequency, a PS2 game based on timing button presses to music. Frequency is pretty much the same thing albeit with different songs. Harmonix are hoping that a trend continues with Amplitude and whilst its not a very long game, it offers something different for gamers looking for something new and original.
There is a very loose storyline in Amplitude. When the game first starts up you choose your avatar and difficulty level before being thrust into the main game. There is only a few game modes available and consist of the main game, practice and choosing different tracks to remix individually if you have unlocked them. In the main game you travel to different zones and must complete a number of songs before being able to move on.
The zones are made up of four songs. Once you finish the first three, the fourth "boss" song is unlocked and once that is defeated you can move on to the next zone. The difficulty level dictates how many songs are required to be completed to finish the game. The lowest is twenty three songs and the highest is twenty five songs. Obviously one of the main goals of Amplitude is to unlock all the songs, so eventually you will probably want a crack at the highest difficulty level.
To play Amplitude you control a small ship with lasers. Each of the songs has been divided into a number of sectors, and each sector that is successfully completed is heard through the speakers. The tracks are usually divided into sectors such as vocals, base etc but it depends on the song. Your avatar has a power meter under it. This is filled by successfully completing sections of each sector, however if you make a mistake it will drop and should this reach zero you will have to begin the track again.
As mentioned before there is a variety of difficulty levels featured in Amplitude. On the easiest level you can complete the game in a few hours, however that is not where the challenge lies. The challenge lies in the higher difficulty levels as the game moves at a quicker pace, your punished more for mistakes and generally your moving around the dual shock pad at an insanely fast pace trying to keep up. It is unlikely, unless you have fantastic reflexes that you will complete songs the first time through on the moderate difficulty level.
Another game mode featured is the Remix mode which allows you to create your own remixes of the tracks by placing rather then shooting the blocks. This works something like a program on the PC where you can create your own music but is obviously not as powerful. This does add replay value to the game and extends the longevity however. A tutorial for this mode is also included to teach you how to remix the songs available.
The controls are basic and easy to use. You move the ship with the DPAD or left analogue stick and you can control the lasers either with the face buttons or shoulder buttons. When using the face buttons the square, triangle and circle buttons dictate where to shoot as the sectors are divided into three areas where the blocks you have to shoot are.
Amplitude features a multitude of music from a variety of genres. P.O.D headline the game with their song Boom but other bands include Pink, Blink 182, Garbage and many others. The sound quality of the songs is superb but unless you have really quick reflexes it is unlikely you will hear the songs throughout the game as they are meant to be heard due to the fact there is so many sectors to keep going at the same time.
Amplitude is played in a city like landscape with the ship hovering over the sectors you have to shoot. The city is quite detailed and has bright colours to add to the party feel this game portrays. The music videos of the song being played is also shown in the background which is a nice touch. Your avatar also performs some of the sounds with instruments and also dances in a window.
It's hard not to mention the sound when talking about Amplitude and the soundtrack is obviously superb featuring a variety of todays bands mentioned further up. Other then that there isn't much sound, the guns lasers don't even make a sound.
Multiplayer is offered on the same console and also on the PS2 online network. You have to sign up for an account and receive a Freq name to play online but this doesn't take long and only asks for a username and password to be set. The person with the most points at the end of each song wins, and you are challenging each other in a mode which mimics the single player main game. You can also play the Remix mode in multiplayer.
Amplitude is a niche game but a great game that fans of music will enjoy. Whilst it won't offer the best gaming experience around it is one of the better music based games and a good challenge on the higher difficulty levels. If you're tired of the same games over and over again then Amplitude could be right up your alley, its different and its a great game.