Harmonix's Amplitude is a masterfully crafted if unimaginative follow up to 2003's original Amplitude.
Let's just get this out of the way, Amplitude (PS4) has a couple problems, the first of which is being named Amplitude instead of anything else, leaving one writer to try to figure out how to differentiate between the original and the re-imagining and finally just deciding that a video game system in parenthesis would suffice. Secondly, and the most important, the song selection in this game is very one note. The track listing mostly consists of techno or house music created by the in house musicians at Harmonix. I do not want to imply that these songs are bad or boring to play, just that if you were looking for the type of variety found in the original Amplitude you will be sorely disappointed. That being said the track listing does contain some names that will be familiar to fans of the original game (or it's predecessor Frequency), including Freezepop and Symbion Project. The game also includes a number of songs from other video game composers such as C418 (Minecraft), Darron Korb (Transistor) and Danny Baranowsky (Necrodancer). These do provide a breath of fresh air to another wise samey track list. I would love to see some DLC in the future to expand the track listing though there is no indication of that at this point
The gameplay is largely unchanged. Each song is still broken down into it's component pieces (drums, vocals, guitar, bass, etc.) and displayed on five tracks laid side-by-side. If you can hit all the notes in a track for a specific amount of time the track will start to play itself and you can move onto the next one. If you can play all the notes on every track without missing one then you will be rewarded with a brief reprieve before you must make your way back to the original track to start the whole process over again. Miss notes and you lose your multiplier, a little energy and parts of the song start to go silent. Miss notes for too long and it's game over. If you've never played Amplitude it is very similar to Rockband Blitz or Guitar Hero, both of which took a lot of inspiration from the game.
The campaign in Amplitude has gone through some changes though. Long gone are the days of creating your own FreQ (the digital avatar who played all the instruments in the first two games) trying to make your way down the sonic highway in a sound blasting ship and has been replaced with a short but effective tale of you trying repair the damaged mind of a comatose patient...with a sound blasting ship. This change in tone does compliment the new aesthetic of the game quite well, which retains it's colorful club feel but slaps a new coat of ultra slick future paint all over it. Also, I can pick a sound ship christened "Chubs" so this may be the best rhythm game of all time.
The multiplayer is lacking. While never the focus of the game it has been stripped down to just one mode in which both players try to complete tracks on the same song. Up to four players can get in each others way, eject opponents from their track or send other various tricks to give the competition a hard time. While fun I miss the chaotic mess that was the multiplayer remix mode in the original game. Harmonix also added leaderboards to Amplitude, while not a groundbreaking achievement, it does add a nice competitive feel to the whole experience so you and your friends can try to top each other's highscores.
My largest concern before playing Amplitude was the Dualshock 4 controller. I assumed the triggers wouldn't allow for rapid presses the game requires. I'm estatic to say I was wrong. While the triggers do take some getting use to (I can no longer just slap my fingers down like a drunk baboon) I quickly re-adjusted to giving them a gentle tap. The most notable change control wise is adding the ability to give the left stick a quick flick to the right or left to fly to the next active track. Harmonix doesn't force this change on you if you still feel like controlling the track shifts manually, but why would you? Amplitude also offers a variety of control types, including a one-handed mode and a left-hand dominant mode. The fan favorite Frequency mode is also back, which rearranges the tracks into a circular formation.
Amplitude delivers on everything it set out to do. Yes I'm mad I don't have a dumb FreQ to customize and watch dance and sing and spin his turn tables. I'm disappointed I can't lay down a impossible chain in competitive remix mode. I'm even upset I don't have a dumb metal song to play through. I'm NOT upset by the experience of playing the game though. I spent more time with the original Amplitude than any other music game. It was a staple for me and my friends growing up and this remake is just as good, if not better than the original. If you've played the original Amplitude and you're looking for a brand new experience then you may want to steer clear, this game does not break new ground, but if your looking for a foray into an old favorite or you simply like rhythm games then Amplitude (PS4) is the perfect game for you.