Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone






Sony’s Frequency allows cyber-DJ’s to build and scratch over a variety of tracks from a who’s who of the world’s elite electronic artists. Using the unique system, players build each track element by element, with each instrument building on the proceeding ones. What makes the experience so cool is the interface that takes a page from the classic arcade game Tempest and melds it with a stylish rave flyer motif. Frequency has an incredibly stylish look that makes it one of the most distinctive looking titles on the PS2. We hit the virtual decks for a hands-on preview and explain why this upcoming release takes the popular rhythm genre to new heights.

While it seems like an odd-ball title on the surface, don’t be fooled, because while this game may be unconventional, it seems to fit in nicely with the more mainstream video game audience that many publishers are trying to reach. Coming this November is a new rhythm title from Sony called Frequency which allows you to mix and then remix a wide variety of tracks. While many of these types of games don’t feature that many well-known artists, Frequency breaks the mold with top electronic artists. Covering eight genres such as Hip Hop, Electronica, Drum & Bass, House and Rap Metal is an impressive lineup including Orbital, The Crystal Method, DJ Qbert, Dub Pistols, Juno Reactor, Roni Size, Paul Oakenfold, Fear Factory and Lo-Fidelity All-Stars, the title is already looking to be impressive in terms of the sheer number and quality of music featured.

What’s most impressive about the demo is that Frequency also diverges from the usual in terms of gameplay with a far more sophisticated approach than the norm and while it seems a bit complicated, most of the conventions are much easier to understand once you practice with the tutorial levels which guide you through the process painlessly. While unconventional, it does share a few things in common with other music titles, the notes come up the web at the player and need to be hit as they hit the edge of the screen. Additionally, each note is assigned a specific button on the controller that needs to be hit in time with the music. It’s obvious that Frequency is designed with the PS2 dual shock controllers in mind and the interface fits in well, making the game easy to control and quite responsive. There are only three types of notes on the controller, which makes things simple to understand while allowing for some good reflexive challenge. While it seems simple early on, the notes and timing becomes crucial since later levels are much more complex and trickier, making success much more difficult to achieve.

Most gamers familiar with the genre will find Frequency to be pretty simple and straightforward which should make for an incredibly addictive title. Even with the limited number of tracks on the demo, this is already apparent. The sheer simplicity of gameplay and will mean that Frequency will undoubtedly have plenty of mass appeal even for those unfamiliar with these electronic dance music artists – who knows, some of the acts may find new fans because of their appearance here. However, when a note is missed that section of the track ends and you have to wait for the next bar to begin. If players miss enough sequential notes, the game ends.  What’s unique about Frequency is that it allows players to build up each track element by playing each note for a specific instrument, for example starting off with the bassline. Once you complete two bars of music, that specific instrument is mastered. Once this is done, players can turn the web to the next element and move onto the next track, such as the drums, guitar or sample triggering.

Once an entire song is completed, the real fun begins. At this point, players are allowed to freestyle over a track using the special scratch and sampling interface. Here is where the truest interactivity comes in because you can adjust the pitch and style of the samples and change the scratches with the analog pads which makes you into a virtual DJ. This ability to actually interface with the tracks is really cool. What’s even better is that you can also save the tracks you create in freestyle mode and trade them with friends or online using the upcoming PS2 modem. While not included in the demo, another cool feature of the game is that the final version will allow you to test your skills on the decks against up to three other DJs online. There are several modes of play included as well, including practice, arcade and a special freestyle mode where you can immediately go into remixing tracks you’ve already completed.

Frequency’s interface is really stylish & hip with cool objects spinning around in the background making the overall experience feel like a stylish European rave flyer come to life. Frequency looks fantastic with smooth animation, dazzling special effects and a refreshingly creative environment that takes the user into a new dimension, with visuals effectively enhancing and complimenting the pulsating music nicely. What’s also impressive about Frequency’s cybernetic interface is that it isn’t too hip for its own good, remaining remarkably intuitive throughout. This makes most operations, such as spinning the web around or implementing new techniques simple to understand allowing most players too transform themselves into scratchers without much effort. The special effects are also quite impressive, with a variety of colorful levels accented by sleek light sourcing and other particle effects as the notes burst off the screen over the futuristic levels, of which there is a new one for each song - 20 distinct environments in all. The few levels included in the demo are already quite impressive from an aesthetic standpoint, leaving little doubt that the rest of the game will feature gobs of stunning eye-candy.  

Without falling into mindless hyperbole, Frequency looks like a winner and should up the hipness quotient of the Playstation 2 significantly. Even though it borrows its main visual elements from the classic game Tempest, that doesn’t make this a retro title.  Far from it, the approach of melding the past and the future seems refreshingly creative with so many derivative music titles on the market. Adding up the addictive and simple gameplay, innovative interface and environments, truly interactive online play, not to mention an impressive roster of top artists, Frequency looks like a must-own for both fans of electronic music and fast-action freaks.