Amplitude demonstrated that the niche rhythm genre has massive appeal, and that’s an achievement in itself.
Amplitude is the direct sequel to one of the best games in the music genre: Frequency. This follow-up has all the features one could expect, like improved graphics, a better online multiplayer mode, a more complete and varied soundtrack and a much more polished gameplay. So if you really liked Frequency, chances are you are going to love its sequel.
Amplitude can be played in both single and multiplayer and before you start you are required to create a FREQ, just like in its predecessor. The FREQ is basically your avatar, which will represent you in the game, a DJ who is competing in the “ultimate musical composition.” Something interesting is that the avatar you create is fully animated in 3D, so you’ll see it moving and dancing while you play a song. Soon enough you’ll be able to change the look of your alter ego by exchanging its parts for newly acquired ones. Eventually, the main thing you’ll probably notice is how much all the backgrounds and tracks have changed when compared to Frequency. Now, these are more complex and have a unique aesthetic, making it different to anything else. But at its core, the gameplay has remained pretty much the same. As a “space DJ”, you have a very unique instrument called Beat Blaster, this weird gadget allows you to move freely across songs. Once you’ve selected a song, you need to capture its notes by tapping them as they scroll down towards you. These markers have three positions: left, middle and right, and they are present in different tracks. Each track or tunnel represents a different instrument: bass, drums, vocals, guitar, FX and synthesizers. Soon enough you’ll understand the benefits of moving quickly and smoothly between tracks, getting much more points and playing the song much more fluidly. If you miss enough notes, the life bar in your energy meter will start decreasing and eventually, the game will be over and you’ll have to restart the whole song from the beginning. In any case, and if you successfully complete a row of notes in a succession, that part of the song will start playing automatically for a while, allowing you to focus on the other instruments.
The game lets you select different control schemes and there are up to four difficulty levels to choose from. Apparently, developers wanted to make sure that anybody who tried the game could finish it without much trouble. Additionally, and as you progress, Amplitude allows you to select different arenas and at the end of each one, you’ll face a boss fight. Most of these fights include a song especially created for the game, and even though the requirements to complete them is basically the same (hit enough notes in a succession without missing) these sequences offers a nice change of pace. What’s also very interesting is that once you’ve unlocked a certain arena, you can play the songs it includes in any given order. Also, each arena has at least one bonus song, in which you need to meet certain requirements to unlock it. Usually, the requirement is as simple as having earned enough points in all the other songs of the arena, but it’s really good to know that there is some bonus content which adds some replayability to the game.
In addition, many new backgrounds where created, and while changes in these are mainly aesthetic, it’s actually really good to know that they don’t look as flat as in Frequency. Besides the artistic alterations there are many indicators onscreen that are present at all times, letting you notice your progress more clearly. So you’ll see a life bar, many tracks, beats, scores and points and notes. Moreover, the game has some basic power ups like the Autoblaster (which lets you clear a section automatically), freestyles (sends you to a different “plane” allowing you to play special effects for a little while without the possibility of failing) and the self-explanatory Score Doubler. Also, and as in Frequency, the game includes a Remix mode in which you can create a unique version or your own interpretation of a song and save it to replay it later. The mode lets you add or modify especial effects like: loop, BPM, solo, mute, chorus, strutter, delays and more. This makes your song much more dissimilar and distinctive.
Besides the engaging single-player campaign and remix modes the game also includes an incredibly fun multiplayer. Up to four players may participate via multitap, making the game much more competitive and better overall. The inclusion of this mode is great, because it adds even more replayability. It’s also very interesting to see how the multiplayer mode has influenced “Guitar Hero,” as at its core, both experiences are pretty much the same.
The graphics are flashy, but quite simple. The backgrounds aren’t really detailed, but this is more than understandable because most of the time you’ll be paying attention to the different notes that come towards you instead of the backgrounds or gauges. From a more technical perspective Amplitude doesn’t have many loading times, the game loads before and after each song and these are actually quite short, making the experience much smoother.
The soundtrack included in the game is much more diverse and interesting than the one in Frequency. Not only it includes many popular artists, but also the songs are extremely good. Some of the featured artists are: David Bowie, P.O.D., Papa Roach, Garbage, blink 182, Pink, Weezer and many more. There are 26 songs in total, but fortunately the range of genres is more varied. The backgrounds are much more psychedelic and some parts of the artist’s videos were added creating a great effect.
Many years have passed since Amplitude first came out and many people may think that after playing “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” this game may be boring and dull. Actually, the game is really fun and is most enjoyable when playing against a friend, but most of all it captures the feeling that you’re composing music, making the experience of playing it highly rewarding and satisfying. It should also be noted, that this was probably the first game that proved that this niche genre has massive appeal. All these facts simply make Amplitude one of the definitive rhythm games.