Just play the feckin' note!
There's no audio element to songsmithing, and no way to listen to the finished tunes once they've been created (an understandable limitation). The closest thing the game has to interactive music making or performing is the practice mini-game. Repeating short note sequences in a Simon-style memory game boosts the generic 'musicianship' skill of band members. Making a record involves a simple but engaging sub-game too. Using a mixing-desk style interface you must find a fader arrangement that pleases punters and doesn't tick-off too many of the band. In isolation these simple diversions would be trite. As quick interludes in a dense, fast-paced play experience they work rather well. Kudos feels repetitive in comparison.
OK, first minor misgiving. Rock Legend is superior to its nearest PC rival in almost every respect, but is a lot more timid when it comes to depicting the grittier aspects of the music scene. Apart from the odd background image of a label-less beer bottle there's no evidence whatsoever of carousing. Some band members have character traits like 'disruptive' or 'pessimistic' but no-one is flagged as a lush, or a drug fiend. It's a similar story with fisticuffs and fornication. Incompatible band members cause friction but there never seem to be on-stage punch-ups or skirmishes with pushy paps. However big you get you'll never get pelted with warm knickers or pounced on by insatiable groupies. Shame.
Possibly the biggest/oddest omission is the absence of touring. Cliff appears to have something against foreign travel (there were no holidays in his last life-sim), which is a pity as everybody knows the biggest bust-ups and the best songs happen on the road.
Sleep when you're dead
I may just have been lucky with management and musician choice but my bands rarely seem to squabble. The deepest pitfalls by far are financial mismanagement (see intro), overwork, and chronic de-motivation. If you cram too many dull, wearying activities into the schedule eventually performances will begin to suffer, and everyone will take to their beds. Accept an interview offer straight after a gig and you'll probably be the only one that shows up. Why does that matter? Different band members bring different skills to activities. An 'articulate' axeman will boost the publicity effect of an interview; a 'businesslike' drummer means you get discounts at the mall.
Ah yes, shopping is almost as important as music making in Rock Legend. Ensuring the band has the best possible instruments, lighting, stage gizmos, transport and staff, is vital to success. Most days you'll find yourself faced with tricky economic choices. Get some fancy lasers to pep-up the stage show, or buy a top-of-the-range horn to pep-up the saxophonist? Pamper the band's buttocks with a swish stretch limo or pamper the band's buttocks with an energetic Swedish masseuse? The hours can slip by very easily as you scamper from decision to decision. Before you know it you're gazing at the rather anti-climactic end-game summary screen and wondering why there isn't a hi-score table (it would be nice if I could compare Miranda Veranda's achievements with those of my previous bands - The Panzers and Misery Loves Timpani).
Fresh, but slightly sanitised, Rock Legend isn't a game you're going to play intensively for months. However, note the price (GBP 12.50), and purchase anticipating two or three weeks of quirky, leather-trousered amusement, and you shouldn't be disappointed.
7 / 10
You can check out the Rock Legend demo or, indeed, buy it, over on the official website.