Long before Rock Band became the key feature of Harmonix, the developer had the likes of games like Frequency and Amplitude.
While Rock Band 4 is still one of their big titles, the team Kickstarted Amplitude to bring the game to PC and PS4. While the game is still fun to play, there are a few missed notes that keep it from being great.
The game is simple to pick up and play. Each song has multiple tracks that feature a single instrument or vocals. Using either L1, R1 and R2, or Square, Triangle and Circle, players try to hit the notes on the track until it disappears, adding that track to the music for a limited time, letting them move to the next track to do the same.
Like other music titles, the key to the game is keeping the streak up. Building up combos keeps your health up and lets you progress to one track after another quickly. If you’re slow in picking up a track though, get ready to have the combo broken and to have your health take a hit. Building a streak again or getting to the next area of a song will help heal you.
There are also power-ups during the song you can hit that, when used, can help you instantly clear a track, float along the space gathering points, slow time down and more. While you can quickly use the power-ups, the skill at higher levels comes from choosing when to launch the power-up to get the most points from it.
Amplitude features four difficulties at the beginning, along with one unlockable difficulty level later on. Earlier difficulties are easy to hop into and play, while harder difficulties will test your skills for quick button presses and hopping between tracks.
Unfortunately, content is a bit light in the title. The campaign just features 15 songs created by Harmonix. It’s an interesting idea, but after you beat it to unlock a few new songs you can play with friends (the campaign is single player only), you probably won’t feel a need to check out the mode again.
Meanwhile, the free play mode lets up to four players take each other on in either versus or team play scenarios. The gameplay types features power-ups that can help your team or hinder the other team. It’s really where the game shines, and gamers with local players will have a blast playing through the game for new high scores.
The biggest letdown for me comes from the soundtrack. There are 30-songs, most of which comes from Harmonix groups. The thing that made me love past titles were some of the bigger tracks from names like No Doubt, David Bowie and Powerman 5000. I remember playing those tracks again and again. There are no names like that here, except for maybe Freezepop, and even that one isn’t one of their best songs.
Additionally, some songs take a lot of plays to unlock. The last track you get takes a whopping 60 song plays to get it, and it really didn’t feel like it was worth it. Why not unlock quicker or, better yet, give all songs at the beginning to play. They’re mainly free play songs anyway, so why not let players enjoy the tracks with their friends quicker?
Overall, Harmonix did a great job capturing the body of Amplitude again. The gameplay is good and easy to pick up, even if you haven’t played the game in years. However, the soul of the game, the soundtrack, may have gamers looking elsewhere for their music game fix.
Final score: 3.5