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Review – Frequency (PS2)

PS2 – 1-2 Players
Gameplay – 7/10

Graphics – 7/10

Sound – 9/10

Replay – 6/10

Overall – 7.3/10

Frequency is generally a hard game to describe. There isn’t really anything that is much like it. The closest thing I can think of is “DDR without the down arrow”, but, there is so much more on in
addition to that so the description doesn’t really fit very well. For one, the tracks are a lot longer. Then there’s a little ship thing that you’ll actually have to control your on top of following the

Well, maybe I should start out simple and then get ease you into the more complicated parts of the description. Imagine that you have a line, and that line represents a song. Now, turn that line into an 8-sided extruded tunnel. Your ship travels down this tunnel. There are no branches or forks but the tunnel does twist around a lot to some nice trippy visual effects. Essentially it is still the straight line. Now
take that tunnel and divide it up into several shorter segments. Each song is divided into segments; each segment is roughly 8 measures long.

Ok, now, back up one step to the 8 sided corridor. Each side of the corridor is lined with patterns of nodes that follow the sound of certain parts of the music. Each side represents a different layer of
the sound. For example, pretty much every track has a basic starting side representing the lowest drum or bass line. Pretty much every song has a vocal track. The techno based tracks may have a couple more bass sides or some synth sides. The more rock like tracks have more guitar sides, the hip hop type tracks tend to have several vocal sides.

The trick here is that the music for that side doesn’t play continually until you unlock that side. When the track starts out you’ll have a basic drum line. As you unlock the guitars and vocals, they will join in. It’s really cool to hear the songs sort of unfold as you complete more sides.  It’s sort of like getting a custom made remix each time you play through the track.

To complete a side you have to follow patterns of nodes. You must complete two consecutive measures of nodes on a side to unlock it. Then the side will play on its own for the rest of that segment. See each segment has its own set of sides. Though some of the sides repeat throughout the song in more than one segment, it’s probably not possible to collect all 6 sides of a segment in one pass.

But wait; I said there are 8 sides in our tunnel yet only 6 sides to capture. You see, after you’ve unlocked 5 of the 6 sides you’ll unlock freestyle sides of that segment which can be used to collect bonus points. There are two type of freestyle sides, Axe and Scratch. Some tracks have two of one type but most have one of each. The scratch creates a record scratching effect as you move the analogue stick as well as placing different sound samples into the music as you press the buttons. The Axe track adds digital
sort of “crystal” sound effects to the music as you move the analogue stick and hold one of the buttons.

As mentioned before, you also collect nodes along each measure  This is the part that is comparable to DDR. You move along and hit the nodes as they pass under your target, the nodes have left right and middle and work similar to DDR’s left, right, and up arrows and correspond to the Square, Circle, and Triangle buttons respectively. The X button is used to activate power-ups you collect. There are two power-ups. Auto-Capture will complete a side for you, and multiplier will increase your score. You can also use the L and R buttons to capture nodes but honestly this could have been better designed to alow you to turn between the sides of the tunnel.  Instead, you move between the sides using the left and right control pad buttons. Also, unlike DDR, you are penalized for hitting an incorrect or non-existent node and must start over on your 2 measures in a row sequence.

Sound thoroughly confusing enough?  It’s not really as bad as it sounds if you’re at all familiar with Rhythm style gameplay, especially DDR.

The object of the game is to make it through all of the segments to the end of the song. The number of segments varies with the length and complexity of the song. Harder difficulty songs tend to be longer. As you travel along the song your life bar is depleted as you miss picking up nodes. It is increased when you complete a side. You pick up power-ups by completing a measure with power-up nodes. In addition to the main game, there is also a freestyle mode where you create a song of your own using samples from the in game music. You can even play the homemade tracks in the regular game mode.  This mode is sadly fairly limited in what it really lets you do.  You aren’t really so much making music as telling the game when you want the pre made music to play.

The game comes with 25 songs, some by popular known artists such as No Doubt or Fear Factory, others by less well-known artists such as Funkstar De Luxe or Symbion Project. Pretty much all of the music is good though. In Easy mode, only the first 15 songs are available, in Normal there are 20 songs and Expert lets you play all 25 songs.  The songs are divided into 5 song stages and you must complete the first 4 songs of an earlier stage to unlock the next higher stage. Each stage has 4 songs initially playable and a 5th song that is unlocked by getting a combined high score of a certain amount on that
stage. To complete a difficulty you complete all of the songs on that difficulty.

This is fairly frustrating for anyone who is unable to complete the harder difficulty levels.  It also means a fairly limited song selection for those same people.  Twenty songs isn’t much when you consider DDR tends towards 70-80 or so tracks.  All that keeps a rhythm game going is variety of music and needlessly limiting what music choices this was isn’t a good idea if you want to keep the player interested.  The remix mode isn’t a very fun addition to help keep up interest either. 

The difficulty doesn’t help either.

The game starts out fairly simple but becomes excessively difficult in the later stages of the game.  The highest difficulty is certainly more difficult to complete than the highest difficulty on say, DDR.  I can pass most Heavy DDR songs with a controller, I can’t pass a single one in Frequency.  The overall difficulty is compounded because of the extra interaction required by changing sides.  Also the tunnel moves around at weird curves and whatnot which can be slightly disorienting, Additionally the node patterns tend to become extremely complex and the game is pretty unforgiving in regards to mistakes.  This can lead to a lot of frustration and a pretty unsatisfactory game experience.

All in all, Frequency is a pretty fun game as far as rhythm games go.  There is also a sequel called Amplitude that is supposed to be even better but in my opinion it drops a lot of what makes this game
interesting in favor of making things a bit easier.    Unfortunately maybe easier is what this game needs. Though the visuals are interesting, the music is good and the game play is unique without being lame, it’s a bit repetitious and limited in what can really be done.  The steep difficulty later in the game hurts as well.

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