Frequency leads a relatively short list of music games on the PlayStation 2, which is a bit of a surprise since the popularity of the genre is continuing to grow. Music is at the very core of Frequency; many types of music are represented in the game and the gameplay lets players believe that they actually are performing and making the music happen by using their controllers to input beats for each instrument, such as guitars, synthesizers, and drums.
Brad has done a great job of touching on what the game is like and its overall description, but our opinions of the gameplay and the level of difficulty involved in succeeding at Frequency differ a bit. While I certainly will not argue the fact that the gameplay is certainly daunting at times, especially on the Expert setting, I firmly believe that a little persistence and practice goes a long way. Frequency actually makes players work to advance. Practice is required, and it will take repeated attempts at several of the songs to learn the entry patterns and get the timing down.
The three-button system that Frequency uses works well for many songs, but when the beats are knit closely together in succession, it can be very frustrating. More beats are added to each track as the level of difficulty increases, necessitating more input from the player. As simple as the three-button layout sounds, it can be awfully hard to press the right buttons at the right time; furthermore, if a player misses even one beat, the player winds up having to start that section all over again and it drains the health meter. It can be difficult, but its not impossible. This is the kind of challenge that will keep dedicated players coming back, and I have no problem with that. I will admit that Ive had my fair share of episodes in which Ive thought of various ways to torture my Dual Shock controller after repeated failures on a given song; however, with persistence and practice, I usually manage to prevail and its certainly rewarding when persistence pays off.
Unlocking Frequencys hidden songs is also rewarding and adds replay value to the game. In order to do this, as Brad mentioned, you must accumulate a given number of points in the four main songs on a given level. Scoring in Frequency can be a bit on the stingy side, but the key to scoring is to get into a groove and complete tracks in successionwithout mistakes. This may seem difficult, but once a player gets the feel of completing a track and then shifting immediately to the next track without hesitation, scores improve dramatically as multipliers are added for each successive track until the combo is broken. Its also worth mentioning that the scores for unlocking these hidden songs vary depending on the difficulty level. Its possible to unlock the first three hidden songs on the Easy setting with moderate effort, and the songs dont change for each difficulty levelonly the amount of beats on each track change.
One other feature of Frequency that deserves a mention is the games Remix mode. This mode allows players to take any song that theyve unlocked during the course of gameplay and literally build it from the ground up in any way they choose to. Players can lay down a brand new drum track, add turntable scratches or other effects, or even add or subtract notes as they see fit. Players can also spice up each track by adding echo or stutter effects, or by choosing to raise or lower the volume for each track. Whats more, once a song has been remixed and saved to a memory card, the song can be used as fodder for the standard game. While this feature is not quite as complex as players might have seen with the MTV Music Generator series, it certainly adds another dimension to the game as it allows players to deviate from the standard gameplay and create or edit existing music at their own pace.
Frequency isnt a perfect music game. The criticism of the games harder difficulty levels in justifiable to a point, although I dont personally think that the game was as difficult as Brad found it to be. The song selection, as diverse as it is, is still finite and many players will want more after unlocking all of the available songs. The three-button layout would have been a bit easier if all three buttons were in a horizontal row, in my opinion, but thats due to the controller design more than anything. I also agree with Brad about the problem with songs being cut off after each section; I also would have liked to be able to continue listening to the music, and theres no way that players can do that. If there was a game that cried out for a sound test option, if only to be able to listen to the songs as they should be performed, its this one.
Even with these flaws, I still put Frequency at the top of the very short list of music games currently available for the PlayStation 2. Theres a great variety of music to be sampled, the gameplay is addicting (even in frustration), and I personally think that the Remix mode is a greatif not overlookedaddition. It looks pretty snazzy, too, but in this era of killer visuals, thats not really surprising. If you like music games, even at all, youre missing out if you havent taken Frequency for a test drive.