Like Wispa Golds, flared trousers, restraining orders and that putrid rash on your thighs that you probably should have seen the doctor about years ago, some stuff tends to just keep coming back. Sometimes this happens because you spend most of your time squatting semi-nude in the ivy bush outside your neighbour’s house doing toilet (see the last 2 points above).
Other times, stuff comes back simply because it’s too damn great to stay away for too long.
That category certainly covers the Wispa Gold, and also this: Rez Infinite.
If you’ve recently come out of a 20-year coma, commiserations on emerging in the worst year for space planet Earth since a dinosaur looked up and thought ‘that shooting star looks remarkably close’.
But for your bewildered benefit, Rez is an on-rails musically-driven shooter that first materialised on the coffin nail that was Sega’s Dreamcast way back in 2001.
Since then it’s been ported to the PS2 (complete with a disturbingly-titled peripheral called a 'Trance Vibrator', which pulsed in time with the music - and of course had absolutely no lewd connotations at all), reappeared on the Xbox 360 with sharpened-up graphics as Rez HD, and now here we are on the PS4 in 1080p, in its newest incarnation.
So why re-release an already repeatedly re-released game? Well here’s the all-new sexy factor: Rez Infinite comes complete with PlayStation VR functionality.
Otherwise though, Rez Infinite is to all intents and purposes, the exact same game it has always been. So it’s just as well it’s flippin’ great. You play a computer guy flying through a digitally-rendered ‘interpretation’ of the code inside a mainframe that’s become corrupted by some real bad stuff.
Which is a short way of saying the story is a complete load of incomprehensible shenanigans that we can now ignore entirely in favour of talking about the music.
Rez has, and always has had, one of the best soundtracks of any video game ever.
And, in my mind is, also one of the best music-driven games ever because of the way it works.
As you’re hurtling along through a landscape that’s two parts every 1980s sci-fi film ever to three parts Monty Python animation, you have to target and shoot down enemies.
This is done with a targeting reticule that you aim with your joypad or, in VR mode, by gawping at it using your face.
Each time an enemy gets targeted or shot, a little burst of music is played. Targeting different enemies and/or multiple enemies and hit points at once changes the sounds of these bursts.
Essentially, you augment the soundtrack as you go and can get creative with it, rather than the whole experience just being about how well you can replicate beats in a predetermined tune.
It's a far less jarring experience than something like Guitar Hero, where a missed ‘hit’ makes the music stutter out. It also means that, while perfection is great, it isn’t required to really get into the groove.
Which is something you tend to do quite quickly – after a few stumbling starts that sound like a ham-fisted chimp let loose on the demo mode of a Bontempi keyboard, you’ll rapidly find yourself subconsciously shooting away to the beat. In that sense, a game of Rez is more like a jam session than a shooter – and to emphasise that, you can even zone out proper and play it in ‘travelling’ mode where you can’t be killed.
So it’s a great rhythm/music game and a great game in general, but what does VR add to the mix? In a word, immersion. Rez was always about losing yourself in the experience – with the PSVRs spatial sound and the whole artificial world rendered around you, it’s a more trippy, absorbing ride than ever.
I defy anyone to play through level 1 (featuring ‘Buggierunningbeeps’, arguably the best track in the whole game) and not be bopping their head along with the beat by the end of the level.
Rez Infinite probably isn’t original enough to be the PSVR's true killer app, and it is inevitably limited by being on rails. While it’s lovely seeing the whole world around you, your predetermined route means exploring is never an option.
But... if you asked someone who had never seen it to describe a VR game where you entered a computer like in Tron, this would almost certainly be very close to what they came up with.
And for anyone who knows and loves Rez from past versions, being able to now ‘step inside’ it is a truly remarkable feeling. It may be 15 years old, but thanks to added VR oomph and its timeless tunes, Rez Infinite still feels like living in the future.
SUMMARY: The future is here - and it's musical!
SCORE: Infinity out of Infinity.