As with any music game, how much you enjoy Amplitude really depends on whether or not you like the music included on its soundtrack. Luckily, it's a diverse mix here: a hodgepodge of techno, alternative rock, and club mixes that includes songs from the likes of Garbage, Papa Roach, Slipknot, and Run-DMC. If you like those artists and can successfully tap your fingers to a beat, you should give Amplitude a shot. Of course, it'd help even more if you're familiar with 2001's Frequency, as this is its direct sequel. Gameplay-wise, you still rock out using the DualShock's shoulder buttons to "play" the music, but Amplitude pumps it up with more music than the original, a higher degree of difficulty, a new power-up, and an Online mode out of the box. It's still not perfect, though, and despite a few cosmetic changes, this is still basically the same game. One seemingly innocuous tweak, however, does make a serious impact. The plane that represents the music is now flat rather than cylindrical (as it was in Frequency), which makes it easier to keep track of everything but actually hinders gameplay. Now, there's really no fast way to go from one side to the other--a big problem in more difficult songs where keeping your combos up is key. Despite that, Amplitude is really fun, especially in its Versus and Online modes.
Don't go slam dance in traffic if you tuned out the thumping-good rhythm game Frequency. Instead, jam over to sequel Amplitude, which refines the first game's button-beating gameplay (score multipliers are easier to spot) while adding music from mightier supergroups. It's this hit list of 20-plus tunes--from bubbly pop to whiplashing metal--that makes Amplitude a music game for the masses (though with 10 more songs, it would be perfect). Even all-thumbs players will open most of the music. Win an online duel or get into your zone to complete the trickier hits, and Amplitude becomes a rockin' rush. Plus, chicks dig it, making it great for couples play.
When playing Amplitude, if at any point you start to feel that doing well in this game means you've actually got soul, please stop immediately, go buy a Busta Rhymes or Stevie Wonder album--a Janet Jackson video will do in a pinch-- and take a few minutes to see what real groovin' is about. Pressing a couple buttons on a controller just isn't my idea of true rhythm-action. Amplitude works well for what it is - and the soundtrack contains some of my favorites (Weezer, Blink 182, and even the new Bowie song is cool)--but as Olivia Newton-John said in a similarly soulless but catchy number, I wanna get physical! Samba de Amigo (DC), where have you gone?
Quite a while back, I got the chance to review a nice little game called Frequency. Harmonix, the team that developed Frequency, is back with Amplitude, a hyped up, and somewhat popped up version of Frequency. Presenting essentially the same gameplay, with only a few minor adjustments, they've sought to recapture the essence of the original game, while improving on what worked best. In some ways, this has been quite the success, but in other ways, those especially visible to die-hard fans of the original, they may have messed up an excellent formula.
Graphically, Amplitude_ only bears basic similarity to its parent. Stretching the gameplay track out over a road like surface instead of wrapping it inside an octagon has presented some unusual gameplay challenges. The backgrounds are much more complex, each unique to the stage of gameplay, rather than being items you unlock as you progress through the game. Other than that, the game looks gorgeous, even compared to Frequency. Obviously, a lot of work went into making the game look refined and beautiful this time.
The level composition has changed too, this time featuring a series of songs on each level that unlock a boss song once they've all been beaten. Collect enough points on each stage, and you can unlock the bonus song, just like the original. While fans may recoil at the more pop feel of Amplitude, this title has a wider variety of songs in its music base, although sadly, very few are really hard rocking like the Powerman and Fear Factory titles from Frequency. Finally, without an octagonal track, you'll be jumping back and forth like crazy; learning the layout of a song is tough and more important than ever.
The small problems aside, Amplitude is still a great game, and with full online and multiplayer support that plays better than the original, it's a worthwhile purchase. I normally want to kick off a few points for a title that closely matches it's original, but in this case, the gameplay is near rock solid.