Rock Band

It’s seen a lot of delay and a scandalous price-increase in the UK but finally, Rock Band is here. I am a massive Guitar Hero fan so was eager to get my mitts on this and give it a whirl. Thankfully this blows the competition out of the water and then some, presenting a new take on the rhythm-action genre.

Because Guitar Hero was the brainchild of Rock Band developer Harmonix, this kind of stuff really is their bread and butter and it shows here. The major selling point is that would-be rockers can choose to play guitar, bass, drums or belt it out on the mic, with bundled peripherals for each available for additional cost.

You can play solo and get to grips with all the songs or invite some mates over and form a band and take on the world. Career mode is rather neat, tasking your band with playing gigs while gaining fans and money along the way. There are pre-determined set lists to tackle as well as a few where you make your own running order. Choose to play tougher songs and perform well and you win over more fans, fail and they start to abandon you.

You can customise your band, making the members look like your real-life counterparts. Alternately you can run wild and make a whole manner of overblown rock stereotypes such as gauntlet-wearing power metal guitarists to moody-looking goth rock front men. You can even give your character tattoos from real-life artists from around the world and create logos to slap on merchandise. Once you’re ready to rock and become a bit more confident in your performance, you can record replays of your gigs and play them back to relive moments of hilarity.

Four player mode looks crowded but works a trear

Gameplay is just like Guitar Hero, with coloured notes cascading down the screen. Match the coloured fret buttons on guitar or strike the corresponding drum pad in time with the beat and you will rack up points. Hit a series of white notes without missing one and you build up Overdrive, which doubles your score for a while. However, it has to be said that Harmonix always make their hammer ons and pull-off notes far too difficult, requiring near-impossible levels of accuracy in expert mode, whereas with Guitar Hero III, there was a bit of leeway, making it slightly easier.

Vocals are perhaps the most hit and miss part of the game. Lyrics scroll along the top of the screen in karaoke fashion, showing the pitch and length of each note. Sometimes you feel as if you are singing the words the way they sound in the actual track but you find yourself failing regardless. Still, some of these songs are mad and make for quite a laugh, including South Park’s Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld – ‘TIMMY!!’

Graphically this is a peach, with the camera swooping about the stage as band members strut about or jump around like crazy. What is perhaps most impressive is when you get a good enough score combo going, the crowd sing along to the song. This is really cool during quiet songs such as Radiohead’s ‘Creep’, and delivers the feeling of an intimate gig that brings a smile to the face. Also, if you are playing as the singer, during the parts with no vocals a series of circular symbols will flow along the screen requiring you to clap or chant along in time to get the crowd fired up. Do well and they start to clap along with you which makes the whole thing feel that little bit more believable

Performances look awesome, despite some small continuity issues

The tracks on offer here are fairly varied, from Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’, Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ and Soundgarden’s ‘Black Hole Sun’. There are some 75 tracks bundled with the game and about 110 available for download already on XBox Live and PSN, all for the low price of about £1.50 each. Special mention has to go to ‘Still Alive’ from The Orange Box’s Portal, as sung by the murderous artificial intelligence GLaDOS, which is also brilliant fun when you have someone trying to sing along!


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3 responses to “Rock Band”

  1. James avatar
    James

    Nice game, I would really like it buuut…

    That price tag. Just too much, really too much.

  2. Simes avatar

    Yeah. It may be awesome, but it’s not £180 of awesome.

  3. Paige avatar
    Paige

    Yeah pretty much in the same situation.
    I’d love to have it but the price is just unbelievable..

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