FREQUENCY for PlayStation 2, $75. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
the makers of playstation 2 and XBox are not content to sell you a box that saps hours of your time playing games in front of the TV. In addition to their primary time-wasting function, the companies involved are also marketing their video game machines as complete home entertainment complexes, CD, DVD and Internet-friendly, and with the ability to do everything and more than your stereo, computer and waffle iron combined.
Frequency brings this far-fetched concept of convergence into slightly crisper focus. It's a video game, but one with no shooting or skateboarding or searching for the mystery person who killed everyone in town. Instead, it turns your PS2 into a kind of sampler/sonic editor, allowing you to make and remake music from the comfort of your couch.
Frequency's primary focus is a roller-coaster-style game where you "play" songs by Crystal Method, Q-Bert, Meat Beat Manifesto, No Doubt, Orbital, Paul Oakenfold and others by landing on the right notes at the right time. It's amusing in an annoying kind of way: dots appear onscreen, and you try to play the proper drum break or bass sample to avoid losing the beat.
It's surprisingly difficult, requiring a strong sense of rhythm but also the nimble fingers and timing that only hours of video game playing can develop. It also wears thin fairly quickly, particularly if your tolerance for, say, No Doubt's Ex-Girlfriend isn't particularly high.
Considerably more interesting and unprecedented is the Remix function, which allows you to compose your own songs using multiple tracks of drums, guitar, bass, vocal samples and turntable scratching.
It's hardly ProTools, but it is complex, with loads of different sonic effects to choose from -- everything from reverb to Kid Koala-speed scratching. It's also a good tool to figure out what actually works in a song. If your hot track's got no rhythm, you'll hear it during the playback and have a chance to go back in and rework things before people stream off the dance floor.
Exactly what the point is isn't totally clear. While you can save your masterpieces, that's as far as it goes. If PS2 had Internet capabilities, you could trade mixes online, but that option hasn't appeared yet.
It's a nice distraction from ultra-violent games like Max Payne, but little more. Frequency, or, more importantly, Frequency's style, is a harbinger of the future, though. Expect more where this came from. email@example.com