|Playstation > Whats New > PlayStation Reviews > Staff Review|
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|Game Type:||Musical Adventure||Memory Card|
|Review Date:||August 1998||Analog Compatible|
Setting the Scene
Hot on the heels of Parappa the Rapper and Spice World, Fluid is Sony Computer Entertainments latest attempt to stretch those video game boundaries further than ever imagined. In an attempt to reach those parts that no other system dare broach, they have seen fit to release, not a game, but 'a totally innovative music making tool'. Fluid has already made a big impact in Japan. Only last year the Organization of Multimedia Affiliated Companies awarded it the Grand Prix award for the best musical display. It has also been reported that a few Tokyo nightclubs have installed a 'Fluid Chill-Out room' while 'Fluid Groove Contests' were organized to allow players to enter their works which had been created on the Playstation. We're not talking stylaphone here. Oh no! Fluid could be your big chance to allow those creative skills to float up to the surface and, just maybe, produce a musical masterpiece that will have millions flocking towards the dance floors. Only don't bank on it, because it may just as easily sound pretty crap.
Fluid is a musical adventure without a story or an ending, to be played endlessly without victory or defeat.
Confused? You will be!
As soon as the game loads up the player takes control of a rather splendid looking dolphin, as it swims through the oceans murky depths. This area is called "Silent Space". Specifically why a dolphin was chosen is a mystery to me. Perhaps it fits in with this trippy, new age, save the environment thing that is all the rage. I don't know but it seems to work. By pressing various buttons on the joypad you can get 'Flipper' to perform a few stunts such as... err... swim. 'Up' tilts it's beak-like snout down. 'Down' tilts the tail up. By pressing the left or right directional buttons the porpoise-like sea creature will eventually roll onto it's back. Pushing any of the face buttons sets the dolphin in motion while releasing them all makes it look quite dead. When manoeuvreing the mammal around the sea bed all of the 'action' can be viewed from three different camera angles by pressing the shoulder buttons. The dolphin doesn't really go anywhere because this particular sea bed is similar to the world in which we live in. It all looks very flat but if you keep steaming straight ahead you eventually return to your start point. There are twelve different worlds in which to swim in and not all of them are below water. Space has the sea creature gliding through an asteroid belt while Wire involves weaving in and out of a never ending line of electricity pylons. Now this may all sound very boring but... well, actually it is. The graphics are all beautifully pre-rendered images but play a secondary part to the music. Effectively they offer you something soothing to view while you get down to the serious business of composing a classic.
Sounds and Effects
If the sounds in this game disappoint then only yourself can be blamed, because you created them. The main objective is to guide the dolphin through various themed worlds to collect sound patterns in order to compose and remix music of varying genres, from Acid Jazz through to Drum and Bass, Ambient, Techno and House. To experience the full potential of Fluid it is highly recommended that you connect your Playstation console to an amplifier and speakers. Seeming as the music and effects involve the playability of Fluid we'll skip straight into the next section of the review and combine them both.
I suppose many of you will not have the first idea about how to create a piece of music. Thankfully, the game options include a helpful step-by- step section to guide you through the process of composing your very own selection of trippy sounds. To get the 'game' started you must first navigate the dolphin through the "Silent Space" towards a circle of 3D stone monuments. These represent sound patterns. One of them will be shaded slightly lighter than the rest. Simply guide the mammal through the centre of this icon and with a ripple of the screen you will be teleported into a level titled 'Peace'. You are now in the first "Cruise Stage". Although you remain in full control of the dolphin, each movement now alters the sound of the music. In effect, your joypad becomes a miniaturized keyboard. The face buttons provide new noises, of which the frequency may be changed by using the directional buttons. These new sounds are collected and stored within the in-game memory to be used later. After several minutes creating what amounts to an awful racket, a small message appears on the screen to inform you that by guiding the dolphin to the right side of the screen you may access the second mysterious world, the 'Abyss'. The sea creature is now swimming in a totally new environment with a completely different selection of sounds. Once again after several minutes twiddling with the joypad these new sounds are stored within the memory for later use. You can actually visit all twelve worlds, gathering over 600 different sound patterns, before you retreat to the mixing room. However this could take some time, therefore the option is available to leave after visiting each individual world by simply pressing the start button on your joypad. This returns you to "Silent Space" where you must navigate the dolphin towards the "Groove Editor". Here you get to mix together all of the collected sounds. Naturally, the more worlds that you have taken the time to visit, the more samples you are going be able to play around with back at the studio. Once inside the "Groove Editor" you may recreate your own tracks by choosing and customizing any of the collected samples. Each background tune can then be split up into eight sections - four styles of drum, three varied synthesizers and a rip roaring bass line. Within each of these eight sections there are up to 120 possible patterns to be collected and used. Furthermore, each of the patterns volume, pan, delay, reverb and modulation can be adjusted. That's a whole lotta tune samples to play around with. Once your new tune has been composed for a particular themed world it may be saved onto a memory card. Now every time you re-enter that particular world it will be your composition that is playing. Even better, you can connect your console up to a CD deck and record it onto tape to play at your mates house.
Value for Money
This is another one of those games that you will either love or hate. The strange thing was that everyone I showed this game too immediately reacted negatively, but could I hell get the control pad back off them. Rent it first... then buy it.
is a game, not a game?
Probably when it's a musical adventure like Fluid.
It's more of a single player experience as I cannot imagine anyone else wanting to sit back and listen to your amateurish attempts at making music.