Amplitude Review (PS4)

Music games have been going through a weird semi-renaissance. There’s been a multitude of great ones over the past year or so (Persona 4:Dancing All Night, Guitar Hero Live, Rock Band 4, and Superbeat Xonic to name a few) but it’s too early to tell if the genre will languish in limbo instead of making a commerical comeback. Nevertheless, developers like Harmonix are still chugging along, keen on pleasing all of their fans no matter the circumstances. Their latest venture is Amplitude, a remake of the PS2 classic, that was a precursor to the popularity of both Rock Band and Guitar Hero. It was fast,fun and frantic and became an innovator in the essence of mechanics and overall gameplay. However, with many games in the same vein, it can be hard to get struck by lightning twice, and most come out feeling unnecessary or shlocky. So does Amplitude retain it’s magic, or does it flounder? Plot twist: It’s a mix of both.

Much like how important the cars are in a racing game, music makes all the difference in it’s own personal right. While everyone has their own taste, it’s always clear to see which songs fit in certain environments and which don’t. Some games like Osu and AudioSurf transcend this, but this is mostly because of cult followings and nothing else. So it still stands as an important factor to make the music right. For Amplitude, most tracks were produced by Harmonix, with the rest being not your typical mainstream examples, a far stray from the original game. While Harmonix’s songs feel as if they have intense passion and craft poured into them, some of the others don’t. At the end, it’s unfortunate that Harmonix stuck to so much of one genre when they could have done so much more.

Luckily, the gameplay still feels nailed in it’s place. Although not much has changed from the original, Amplitude still manages to keep it’s vibrancy more than a decade later. It’s fast-paced and chaotic, but in one of the better more recent examples possible. Simply making a last-minute move to successfully complete a track is a over-joyous feeling. Unfortunately, the iffy controls can detract from this. They take sometime getting used to, and although you can change them, it doesn’t necessarily help. I get what Harmonix was trying to go for, but some particular aspects don’t properly pan out, especially in the heat of the moment.

Another sour note of Amplitude is it’s replay-value. Yes, the game has a variety of modes, but the genericity of the songs can sometimes grind this to a halt. The campaign is also a slim two hours, and only makes the entire game feel worth it if you are a hardcore completionist and or music game fan. However, this does mean Harmonix knew what they were going for even if they stayed a little too close in their familiarity. This doesn’t make the game feel like an outright rip-off, (you can certainly do much worse for twenty dollars) but does not make it as great as an experience for the wide spectrum, something that is essential if you want to play this game with friends.

Amplitude is certainly far from an absolute trainwreck of a reboot, but clings to close to it’s source material to create anything truly substantial. Diehards of the franchise will likely have a lot more fun, but saying that fact alone carves the game into a smaller niche than it deserves as you can feel the amount of effort poured into some spots. For anyone else it’s a standard experience. Nothing certainly ground-breaking, but well done as a waste of time or stress reliever.

Amplitude gets a 7/10. (Average)

We’d like to thank Harmonix for sending us a code for this one!

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