Rock Band


Chris Porto writes, 2007 was an amazing year for video games.

2007 was an amazing year for video games. All three next-generation consoles showed what their hardware was capable of, and developers were churning out great games every day. This past holiday season proved to be the one of the best in ages. With titles including Super Mario Galaxy, Assassin’s Creed, and Halo 3, there are so many great games on the market. Now, the only question is what game is worthy of all of that unused holiday cash.Long-time music game developer Harmonix left the Guitar Hero team to partner with MTV and Electronic Arts for their new project. Their brainchild is Rock Band, a gaming experience unlike any other. This is the perfect thing to live out your dreams as a touring rock star. That’s all of you air guitarists, shower singers, and desk drummers. This is the best party game out there right now. That’s all that needs to be said. This game deserves a place in every gamer or musician’s library.Instruments: 9.5MicrophoneThe mic is pretty self-explanatory. Rock Band asks for very precise pitches, and the microphone can pick up all of them. Players can sing an octave higher or lower to fit their range which is great. The mic hardware is very heavy duty. The head is really tough and it’s at a much higher quality than SingStar or Karaoke Revolution.GuitarThe guitar is just like the one in Guitar Hero with a few extra touches. It’s modeled as a Fender Stratocaster, and it does justice to the material, the body and neck look just like the real “Strat”, so Harmonix seems to be using their license productively. The guitar feels very different from the Guitar Hero guitar, on several occasions. The strum bar doesn’t “click” when pressed up/down; it is smooth without much resistance. The fret buttons aren’t spaced apart, and the whammy bar is much looser than in Guitar Hero. The new stuff is fun to mess around with, but they aren’t really necessary. There are five new fret buttons at the base of the fret-board, which are called “solo buttons”. They take time to get used to, as they aren’t spaced apart the same. There is also an effects knob which is really cool; things like wah-wah, echo, and flanger effects can be used on the guitar to change its sound. Overall, the guitar is very familiar. It’s mediocre compared to Guitar Hero’s, but it works for what this game is about.BassThe bass is the same peripheral as the guitar, which is kind of a drag. There aren’t any Rock Band guitars available by purchase (individually) so the Guitar Hero guitar is the only other option.DrumsVideo game developers have tried to capture the essence of drums for a long time, but they’ve always failed, and the ones that work are boring. Taiko drums and bongos aren’t what I’m talking about there. I’ve always wanted a game with a drum set incorporated into it, and here it is. Harmonix has created the best drum kit peripheral ever. Four colored pads make up the set, with a kick pedal at the bottom for the bass drum. The drums are responsive and surprisingly tough. I thought these would get destroyed at my house, but they still perform like new. The height of the drums is customizable, and the sticks that come with the drums are good quality. It’s too bad there’s no drum throne that comes with it, but I guess it isn’t entirely necessary. Another high point is the realism the drums project. If you can play drums in Rock Band, it wouldn’t be hard to play real drums. Rock Band could even be used as an introduction into music with the drums.As a musician who has a microphone, guitar, bass, and drums, I can safely say they all emulate the real thing very well. When all of these elements come together, there’s a lot to be had. To steal the Mario Party tagline, “One is fun, but four is a party”. That’s what Rock Band is. It’s a party.Graphics: 9.0The graphics aren’t ground-breaking technically speaking, but the animation system is top-notch. There’s also a great art style in the character models and instruments. All of the instruments are real models, for example the drums are all signature Ludwig kits, and the guitars are Fender-based. Harmonix’s license is very well used.Single-player: 7.0This game isn’t meant for the single-player experience. The guitar career is nothing compared to what you can get in Guitar Hero. Singing alone isn’t as good as Karaoke revolution. The only fun part could be the drums, because of its steep learning curve. They’re so hard it can be frustrating, so single-player is better used as a practice, not so much as entertainment.Multi-player: 10.0This is where the game shines. There is even a career that is centered around multiplayer, called Band World Tour. The tour feels very non-linear; you can play gigs in famous cities like Los Angeles, Stockholm, and New York. Playing solo is good, but when you add three friends into the mix the game becomes a social experience. This game is very team-oriented, and what’s great about the system is that if someone fails out, any other band member who’s been doing great can save them. This is the perfect “mess-around” game, because nothing is ever taken too serious. Of course, losing a set list of eight songs is frustrating, but you can’t get mad for too long. This is just a bare-bones, fun experience. Rock Band is the best multiplayer game I’ve ever played. It’s a candidate for being the best game period. It’s just a lot of entertainment for only one game.The burning question is the price. 179$ for a video game is a lot of money, and I know there are a lot better ways to spend it(you could probably even buy a real guitar!). But, if there’s a lot of Christmas money lying around and there’s nothing else you’re looking for, this is the perfect place to put all of it. Don’t buy this game just for the guitar, or just for the drums, or just for the mic. It’s not worth it. But, if you’ve got three friends that want to have some fun, this is the game that will fulfill that need. I give Rock Band for the Xbox 360, 9.5 face-melting solos out of 10.


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