Harmonix Music Systems’ newest iteration of their classic franchise hit the PlayStation 4 this week. You can check out our review for a take on the game as a whole, but we thought we’d take a few moments to lay out some quick, simple reasons that this high-octane rhythm blaster should be on your to-do list.
The Price is Perfect
We mentioned in our review that the song list for Amplitude can seem a bit short, but for a $19.99 price, the 30-track electronic mix is a pretty sweet deal. If you were to pick up the same number of tracks on iTunes, you’d have to spend more cash and miss out on the interactive piece that makes this more fun than just a playlist. It’s also six more tracks than were included in the PlayStation 2 Harmonix game that preceded this one, which speaks to how far we’ve come in the beat genre since 2003.
Stacking this up against other rhythm games also sits pretty well, with many titles boasting three times the price for just double the content before DLC.
The Music Doesn’t Suck
The last Amplitude title, and its prequel FreQuency, both boasted a number of big-name acts. That’s not the case here, but you shouldn’t let that fool you. The folks at Harmonix have still come up with some great tunes, and the short but thematically-linked Campaign tracklist boasts some really fantastic electronica. Throw in the crazy brass-filled Unfinished Business, guitar-shredding Assault on Psychofortress, and a few other offbeat inclusions, and there’s a pretty solid selection of songs to take on in solo or multiplayer modes.
It Caters to All Skill Levels
Amplitude offers five difficulties, available to play for any of the tracks. While veterans of the series may want to skip the highly-approachable Beginner mode, the game’s Advanced, Expert, and unlockable Super difficulties will put the sharpest skills to the test. For the most part, each increase in difficulty means an increase in the number of beats to hit, but the last difficulty threshold takes it up to eleven by removing track-clearing boosts and stripping players of their ability to regain lost energy. All of this comes together to form a truly beastly task.
It’s a Great Party Game
It’s easy to see how Amplitude’s frenzied multiplayer mode, offering both team-based and free-for-all options, makes for a great way to pass the time with friends. What may be less obvious is how great the relatively short length of most tracks makes for a wonderful pass-and-play experience. It may lack some of the ability to mess with the competition, but trying to best one another’s scores on high-difficulty plays is an incredibly fun way to keep things interesting, and to fuel some friendly competition while having a blast.
There’s No Gimmicky Peripherals
Now, I’m not saying that Guitar Hero and Rock Band aren’t (really) cool with their additional hardware, but these things have their own complications. Firstly, of course, the special instruments cost money. There’s also the fact that if you manage to break your plastic guitar or drum set, you’re stuck without it unless you’re willing to pony up for a replacement. With Amplitude, you’ve already got all the hardware you need packed neatly into your standard DualShock 4.
It’s a nice change from the ever-growing trend in the genre over recent years. It may be less “immersive” than the rock star feeling these other games promote, but really, given the synth-heavy bent, most of the instruments would feel pretty wasted on the set list.
In a gaming landscape filled with annually-releasing sequels and copycat titles, Amplitude offers something that’s largely unique. Harmonix did a lot to pioneer the genre with the prior games in this series, and they’ve really made it shine in the latest installment. Maybe you’re content simply sticking to what you know and love, but we at Twinfinite love to get a broad variety to our games. If you’ve never picked up a rhythm game before, and you’ve got a PS4, you owe it to yourself to at least take a peek.
There’s a Surprising Amount of Strategy
With many rhythm games, the path before you is very static. Since most games task you with only one instrument at a time, you’re on a single track that’s laid out from the get-go, and there’s little variance. With Amplitude, though, you’ve got to plan ahead. Switching from track to track while maintaining your flow is tough enough, but when you start to realize which tracks are best to lay the groundwork, the real planning begins.
For instance, I find I prefer to lay out vocals, followed by drums, bass, and finally synth to round out the experience while creating a good overall sound. You can approach things your way — and it has a direct impact on the music you’re “creating” along the way.
There’s Not Much Strong Competition
No, I’m not talking about the online leaderboards. Amplitude had the good fortune of coming out during a month that, honestly, has left us feeling a little disappointed. With a less than stellar early showing throughout the industry, Amplitude stands up above many of the rest for several of the reasons listed above. When there’s so little else to eat up your gaming budget and time, this hidden gem offers a pretty solid punch that, if nothing else, can hold you over until some more anticipated releases come along.