Now that I’ve had a PS4 for a few months, I can safely say that the honeymoon period is over. That’s not to imply that I hate the machine, quite the opposite, but more that we’ve hit the point where the reality of its utility has come to light, namely, that I’ll only ever use it to play Sony exclusives. I knew this going in, but part of me had hoped for a bit of a shift in methodology, that online services would be a bit better in this era where everyone talks about being like Steam. Alas, we’re still not there, as digital console prices are still laughable compared to the PC and PS Plus has really started to scrape the bottom of several recently unearthed barrels.
Still, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore just how many worthwhile titles Sony has on lockdown and I had been constructing a mental list of games to seek out whenever I got around to owning the most popular console on the market. Bloodborne was a clear number one, but number two entered my cart almost immediately afterwards, prompting me to once again wonder about the possibilities of continuing my Dual Shock-based music career.
Unfortunately for me, the new Amplitude is not Frequency. It’s barely even its own namesake.
This isn’t to say that it’s a bad game. It’s a formula that’s rather difficult to screw up and still feels how I remember it. The problem is that the series always worked for me as a way to break down and find a new appreciation for the familiar – the licensed music that would make up a majority of the soundtrack. With what was, by all indications, a troubled development reliant entirely on crowd funding, it’s sort of incredible the game was ever finished, let alone with any recognizable tunes. To fill in the loosely-defined campaign, Harmonix used their in-house musicians to create a concept album of sorts based around a coma patient. The end result is a bunch of samey-sounding electronica with very few standouts, though you can eventually unlock a slightly higher tier of music in the form of songs from other games. There is Freezepop, because there is always goddamn Freezepop, but anyone hoping to jam out to Garbage or David Bowie or Run DMC will have to bust out the PS2. It’s an odd thing you don’t quite notice until it’s not there anymore, but Amplitude without licensed music feels like how Rock Band would – completely functional, but ultimately rather hollow, not even including a remix mode to give you something else to do after unlocking all 30 songs.
Silly as it may sound, I feel like I would have liked Amplitude a lot more if it had been called something else. That way it would have been easier for me to distance myself from the previous games and appreciate it for what it really is – a tip of the hat to a great series, not a continuation.