Amplitude Reader Review
Amplitude is the sequel to the warmly received 2002 musical mix-'em-up that was Frequency. For those who missed the fantastic original, let me give you a quick refresher. Freqeuncy and Amplitude at their most basic levels simply require you to press a combination of left, right and middle buttons in time with the music. Similar in some respects to Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy, but with the difficulty ramped up ten fold. Sound simple? Well let me assure you it's not!
The concept behind Amplitude is relatively straightforward. Songs are broken up into tracks or channels, consisting of drums, bass, vocals, synth, FX and guitar. As the songs progress, it's your job to activate eight or so consecutive beats for each channel by firing a 'sonic energy' burst at them. The beats are positioned on either the left, right or middle of each channel, with L1, Triangle and R2 respectively used to trigger the sonic bursts. The X button is also used to activate the game's various power-ups, which include auto-blaster, multiplier, freestyle and slow-mo. Every beat missed equals a loss of energy from the power bar, which when completely extinguished means game-over.
Amplitude is one of those games that can both exhilarate and frustrate you at the same time. The furious finger gymnastics required to complete songs on the insane difficulty setting can at first seem daunting and often lead to McEnroe-esque exclamations of “You cannot be serious!” Particularly when faced with the near impossible task of playing some of the more difficult tunes such as punk/pop number “The Rock Show” by Blink 182. However, if you stick with it and persevere, Amplitude soon rewards your patience and more often than not, you'll find yourself “in the zone” - playing out of your skin and stringing together intricate, complex combos that at first seemed a million miles away.
And therein lies the game's genius. The old adage of practice making perfect has never been more apt. Amplitude rewards your persistence and what at first might seem to be verging on the ridiculous soon becomes second nature and the glowing feeling you get when nailing a particularly troublesome segment of a song is an emotion rarely matched in games these days. You can't fluke this game, only by using genuine skill will you proceed and this refreshing aspect is one of the game's main draws.
While Frequency relied on dance and Hip-Hop tunes to keep your head nodding and your toes tapping, Amplitude caters for a whole range of musical genres by including pop songs from Pink and Garbage, electronic efforts from the like of Frequency residents BT and Freezepop as well as monster rock efforts from Papa Roach and Slip Knot. This variety works in some respects as it makes the game appeal to a wide and assorted audience, but personally I felt such variety was a negative as you're increasingly likely to dislike more songs than you would were the songs all of a similar genre.
Harmonix also managed to successfully integrate online play into Amplitude using the PlayStation 2 network adapter. As well as offering an offline multiplayer mode which while not as intense and rewarding as single player, does offer a fulfilling alternative. My favourite mode being Duel, in which the first player, or freq, as they're referred to in the game, must lay down a series of beats which the other player must match faultlessly. The competition soon heats up and it's this type of intense counteraction that ultimately leads to many compelling and spirited sessions.
8 / 10