We'll forever remember the original Amplitude on the PlayStation 2 for one major reason: it forced us to listen to Slipknot, Papa Roach, and pseudo-religious group P.O.D. While they may not be the happiest memories, however, Harmonix's mix of WipEout and bad licensed music does still hold a special place in this author's heart, to the point where your humble host almost backed the developer's Kickstarter reboot, before realising that such an act would probably be ethically inadvisable.
Without a stake in the studio's latest sonic-based caper, then, we were eager to get some hands-on time with the title at EGX Rezzed 2015 last week. Naturally, we cranked the difficulty right up to a Spinal Tap shattering twelve – and got blown away before we could even get to the first verse of Freezepop's obligatory included tune. As rhythmically accurate as a metronome we ain't, so we spent the rest of our demo on the more modest medium setting.
For those out of the loop, this is a music game in the same vein as Rock Band and Guitar Hero – it's a precursor, to be fair – whereby you control an Assegai-inspired spaceship down a note highway, picking up beats along the way. Your face buttons match up with corresponding tokens, and each correct click will play a note from the song. The twist is that each lane represents a different instrument, and you'll need to switch between them in order to bring back the full mix.
With the more mainstream Rock Band 4 set to start its comeback tour, Amplitude looks like it'll be going underground again
Completing segments of the track will put the corresponding instrument into temporary auto-pilot, meaning that you'll be able to move elsewhere to 'rebuild' the song. It's a bit like spinning plates: different areas will need your attention at different times, but you'll always be coming back to where you started eventually. This augments a different kind of challenge to other music games, as drum beats will demand unique input patterns to bass lines – and you'll need to adapt.
It's really good fun, even if the core principles remain more or less unchanged. It's been over a decade since the series' PS2 debut, so we can forgive the follow-up a few similarities – but based on the evidence of our brief hands-on, you shouldn't be expecting anything overly new. The developer has been discussing various multiplayer options – which we, sadly, didn't get to try – and it sounds like it's definitely going for a party vibe, with competitive and team-based options out of the digital box.
It does look sharp at least, albeit perhaps a teensy bit moody. Again, we only spent a brief spell with the game, but the cavernous audio chambers that we got to play in lacked that psychedelic appeal of the original. Much like the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, this doesn't matter too much, as you'll be spending most of your time staring at approaching note tokens, but we hope that there's a little more environment variety in the final version, as the gritty settings could begin to grate.
This is shaping up to be a somewhat safe but very welcome successor to one of the most underrated music games of the previous generation, then – and, mercifully, this time there are no nu-metal songs in sight. With the more mainstream Rock Band 4 set to start its comeback tour later this year, Amplitude looks like it'll be going underground again. As your hipster mate will no doubt inform you, though, the finest things in life only have a few fans.
Have we successfully amped up your anticipation for Amplitude, or would you prefer that this project was unplugged? Turn up the volume in the comments section below.