Overall Impressions (Critique) of the Amplitude Game

edited January 2016 in Amplitude
I have been a long-time fan. I owned Frequency when it was new, and bought Amplitude (2003) on release day. I was involved in the FreQ.com community, and took the games very seriously. That said, I was still more into the full game experience and music than any competitive leaderboard. I really only ever played locally, but had a fair number of local friends who were into the game(s).

I followed Harmonix's career, closely enough to snatch up Rock Band Blitz as it was demoed... just not closely enough to find out in time about the Amplitude Kickstarter project. By the time I found the page, I could only run into issues with my Amazon account, and was unable to donate within those last few days.

Thank heavens, the game got made!

The instant tutorial is nice; it's quick and to the point. The OS voice is simple and pleasant.

The idea of a concept album is interesting to me and, in that respect, I feel that Harmonix were very successful at creating a fluid soundtrack with a sweeping narrative, which does not get repetitive in its use of sounds. It has to be said: those who cannot appreciate electronic music as a catalog of subgenres are less likely to enjoy the experience. The musical gamut runs from old school experimental Cold wave, to Electro, to Drum and bass, to Ambient, and to modern Microhouse.

I <3 the soundtrack.

The visuals (on the PlayStation 4) are crisp and glossy, and they flare at all the right moments.

The controls are responsive, but, it's from the controller setup that my first complaint arises. Why is there no custom control setup option? I use Upper Hand. My classic setup was L1/left, R1/right, triangle/center, cross/powerup... and I was okay with anomalies in songs breaking streaks. Moving one track at a time (per push) was good enough for me to reach top tier on songs like "Shades of Blue". While I have grown accustomed to seeking now, it wasn't necessary for me to be able to satisfy my desire for a clean performance. What I have yet to grow accustomed to is using triangle or circle to deploy powerups. Especially on more challenging arrangements, my instinct remains to drop the joint of my thumb to use a powerup. Frustration ensues.

As a (personal) completionist, I was happy to get back into the groove by 100%ing Beginner and Intermediate Campaigns before searching for scores on a harder difficulty of arrangements. It also allowed me a greater opportunity to appreciate the music. Starting the game this way made the unlock process seem perfectly reasonable. I had nearly half of the non-Campaign songs unlocked before even moving on to the harder difficulty of arrangements. This also gave me time to adjust to the fixed control setup.

I can easily imagine, for anyone trying to jump into a 'familiar' difficulty with fixed control setups (and unfamiliar music), there may have been some more jarring conflicts present. As with any rhythm action video game, jumping into a multiplayer environment can be extremely difficult when you haven't had a chance to focus on the elements of sound you are meant to manipulate. So, this isn't really a casual game. It only becomes casual after dedicated play (or prior experience). And I guess it's in that sense that SCEA continues to raise valid points of contention.

Should, say, the Rock Band library become available as a resource within Amplitude... that would be a game-changer.

That's my piece for now. I will never get bored of these games. And I try to promote them myself. Good luck to all of us and Harmonix that the swell is only growing.


  • MrResettiMrResetti Unsigned
    edited January 2016
    Great review ePh! I think you can map out the controls through the PlayStation 4 System menus. Check it out! I love the soundtrack too! The composers and musicians really outdid themselves on the soundtrack! My favorites being Dalatecht, I.C.U., and Energize! I love the experimentation they did with the music! The visuals and lyrics have really made an impact on the storytelling. Overall I enjoyed the concept album experience and look forward to what Amplitude has in store for us!
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