Rocks Worlds Technology

images-6Rez Infinite, one of the first virtual reality games for Sony’s new PlaystationVR, this week earned praise from early reviewers for its graphics and immersing qualities. Sony announced the game — an update of a remake — last year.

Featuring support for 1080p resolution graphics, along with 3D audio sound,Rez Infinite is designed for the PSVR, but it’s also compatible with the regular PlayStation 4.

Sega introduced the original Rez for the Dreamcast in 2001 and the PlayStation 2 a year later. It was a huge hit with fans and critics alike, and it earned an award from the Japan Media Arts Festival. It was featured in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s 2012 exhibition, “The Art of Video Games.”

Instead of traditional gaming sound effects, Rez incorporates electronic music, which results in the audio being as important as the visuals.

A high-definition version, Rez HD, became available for the Xbox Live Arcade in 2008.

The latest iteration remains true to the original rail shooter music video game in many ways, but the Rez Infinite visuals and audio now are even more immersing through VR technology.

A Virtual Remake

The early take on Rez Infinite emphasizes the way it pays homage to the original while showing off the capabilities of VR. This game might have been just the right choice to show off Sony’s PSVR technology, because it is a blend of the familiar with something new.

“Some games are timeless,” noted Alexa Ray Corriea for GameSpot. “Rez is one of them.”

In addition, because the game is set in “cyberspace” rather than a more photorealistic environment, it makes a solid leap to VR.

“Backgrounds that were once hazy have been replaced with updated, crystal clear pieces of the cyberworld,” added Corriea. “Colors are brighter, lines sharper. Enemies drift in and out of your field of view with a new smoothness. And in VR, Rez Infinite allows you to dive deeper into its world in ways previously impossible.”

The jump from the pre-high definition era graphics of the Dreamcast and PS2 to a true VR experience is highlighted in the reviews.

“I’m jealous of anyone who’s first experience of Rez is this virtual reality version,” wrote Matt Martin for VG247.com.

“This is clearly the way the game was meant to be played; it only took 15 years for the technology to catch up to the design,” suggested Ben Kuchera for Polygon. “Rez Infinite, played in virtual reality, seems like the ‘finished’ version of the game.”

Apt Killer App?

The reviewers may have loved the game, and it is likely that it will attract fans of the original — but the interest Rez Infinite spurs in VR might be limited

“I wouldn’t say that Rez is the killer app for PSVR, in itself,” said Steve Bailey, senior analyst for games at IHS Markit.

“Admittedly, for a number of people from my particular generation, who played Rez on the Dreamcast or PS2, it’s rather intoxicating to see the game realized for VR,” he told TechNewsWorld.

However, “Rez was always a niche darling that never found wide acceptance, and I don’t think that its role is going to scale to a broader audience where VR is concerned, either,” Bailey added.