Consoles: PS4 (reviewed), PS3
Publisher: Harmonix Music Systems
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems
The brightly colored musical note highways you’ve become accustomed to seeing scroll down your screen originated from two PS2 cult classics. Frequency and Amplitude gave way to the rise of music rhythm classics such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Harmonix Music Systems decided to return to its original combination of trippy EDM tunes and musical bar shooting with a proper reboot of Amplitude for the PS4 and PS3. A successful crowd funding campaign in 2014 allowed the developer to once again revisit their gameplay origins. The end product ends up being a solid game that could have excelled even more with some much needed additions and main campaign changes.
Amplitude returns with what brought it to the dance in the 1st place. You’ll once again be chosen to navigate incredibly bright highways that are littered with notes that correspond with different parts of a song. As a track plays, you’ll hop from lane to lane as you fill in a song’s vocal, bass, drums, synth and more in order to help it realize its full potential. This experience stays addictive throughout thanks to all the trippy madness that occurs on screen as you rack up combo streaks and fully bring a song to life. As you clear each successive tune in the main campaign, the challenge factor rises and forces you to improve your button mashing abilities as you run into new songs. The tougher songs help keep you in tune and eventually push you into a trance that feels amazing.
What makes any music game worth its weight is the soundtrack. Amplitude relies on a playlist that’s full of tunes that are composed of EDM tracks. The concept soundtrack comes in at a total of 30 tracks, some of which are truly enjoyable even on repeated playthroughs. However, the replay value for a majority of the songs you’ll unlock isn’t very high. It’s also a bit disheartening to see that there’s no presence of licensed songs to jam out to. This negatives may prevent you from truly getting immersed into the later songs you’ll unlock. But there’s still a good amount of memorable tracks that manage to keep you entranced. Tracks like “Muze (Amplitude Remix),” “Decode Me,” “Red Giant” and “Wetware” are instant head boppers and club ready songs you’ll frequently replay.
There are two main modes of play – Quickplay and the main 15-song campaign. Quickplay lets you select any song you’ve unlocked and lets you play through it on any difficulty mode you choose. Hopping into multiplayer makes this process even more of a treat. The special power up’s switches up the frantic nature of competitive/co-op play and provides a different experience every time you pick a new song. FreQ Mode even provides a throwback for players who enjoy the circular highway format seen in Frequency. The main campaign is worth trekking through since it helps you unlock new special powers and songs. What keeps the campaign from being truly great though is its confounding progression system. In order to unlock each and every song, you’ll need to score as high as possible on certain tracks. If you’re unable to do so, you’ll need to make your way through the entire campaign once again in order to get another chance to get the required high score. It’s disappointing to see that there’s no option to just select the tune you need to get high marks on in order to get a new song.
Amplitude returns and reminds us all of what brought games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band to the forefront. The addictive gameplay stays intact thanks to a playlist that features some incredibly catchy tracks and the same trippy visuals fans have come to highly regard. Navigating through the musical highways of each song by yourself or with a friend leads to insanely entertaining sessions. There’s no licensed music mixes to speak of here though, plus unlocking new songs through the main campaign includes a frustrating roadblock. Even with these issues, Amplitude still delivers on its promise of a playable EDM concept soundtrack you’ll play for hours on end.
- The gameplay remains strong; tapping on notes and changing up the format with power up’s is addicting
- The soundtrack includes several standout tunes you’ll never get tired of hearing
- The multiplayer options increases the game’s overall fun factor even more
- Some of the songs are lackluster, plus there’s no presence of licensed music
- Navigating through the main campaign mode presents a major head scratching progression problem
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