Rock Band Reader Review
Iíd like to begin this review with an admission, way back in 2005 when Guitar Hero first graced our PS2's, I found myself somewhat ashamedly addicted to it, considering the game had no real point and was little more than an elongated Quick Time Event, but addicted I was and the same thing happened with Guitar Hero 2, however after this the genre had personally lost a lot of its charm.
Now MTV Games, who still remain famous for publishing absolutely nothing, have decided to try and recapture that "MTV is cool" attitude from yester-year with some of the younger generation, trying desperately to erase that capitalist-money-whore image they have nowadays by hanging around with the cool kids at Harmonix, Harmonix being the company responsible for giving us Karaoke Revolution 1, 2 and 3, but they also gave us the first three Guitar Hero games (Guitar Hero 1, 2 and that nasty little cash-in, Rock the 80's) so I'll sort of overlook that, and by "hanging out with" I mean MTV Games pretty much walked in to the Harmonix offices, plonked down a large duffel bag full of cash with a note tied to it stating something like "You will stop making the Guitar Hero games and produce something bigger and better - Love and Kisses. MTV Games - PS: We just bought your company" and the Guitar Hero games were taken over by Neversoft, famous for the Tony Hawks game (Okay, skateboarding = cool, playing guitar = cool, with it so far) and the sole reason that the Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock project was given to Neversoft was because their development team would, and I quote "come in on weekends just to play Guitar Hero"
WOAH! Wait a minute here, so your telling me that if you work for Activision (who also own Neversoft) then you abilities and hard work count for fuck all so long as you enjoy playing the game, well by that logic I should be in charge of developing the next few Final Fantasy games because fuck knows Square Enix are really starting to phone it in!
Harmonix however, given their new orders and $17 billion dollars later, went about making...Guitar Hero...but with drums...and a mic, obviously $17 billion dollars can buy you an awful lot of crack and hookers but not a lot of creativity, nevertheless, Harmonixs' brainchild pops itself onto my examination table for a thorough going over...Rock Band.
At first glance of Rock Band, all you can really say is "it's Guitar Hero, but with more stuff" and that statement really rings true, but despite expecting a dirty rip off of the glorious days of Guitar Hero, I found that Harmonix had actually put some thought into it, not much as it was still enough like Guitar Hero for me and most other game fans out there to roll their eyes but enough had been changed not to warm up the "Guitar Hero Clone" brand and to stop stoking the hot coals.
Okay, so me and some friends (yes, I do have some people who stand my company, not many itís true, but some) sat down and began playing Rock Band on Easy, Band World Tour Mode and were very pleased with ourselves to find that simply pressing one key for a string of four notes and quickly found that we were simply too good to remain in Easy mode so after the first few songs we kicked it up to Medium and found that, personally, much better as I was sat behind the drumkit, as I have played Guitar Hero to death and do not grace the microphone as I honestly do not wish to inflict that much pain upon people, no really, I may be a bit of a sadist but I do have a heart...look :-)
The only problem I found was when we went up to Hard, especially on drums, now with the guitar I have only ever experienced Medium difficulty on Guitar Hero but I had ventured into the unknown and after constant repetition of jerking off the end of my fake Fender Stratocaster guitar, I became like Neo at the end of the first Matrix and had a miraculous breakthrough and realised that I was playing it on the last song set list on Expert...I know, I was as surprised as you are!
The background graphics (and therefore your characters customisation) are pretty pointless considering you never really notice the in-game. But drums, I find (and not being a drummer probably explains it) that at most times the kick pedal seems to have no real connection with what your actually playing, itís like the designers (rich little bastards that they are now) decided that simply having enough kick pedal notes in a song on Expert simply wasnít enough, they were going to put them where they felt like it and where they had no meaning to the song or actual connection to the rytham...kinda like GATSO speed cameras!
Now I realise that this review of Rock Band is shorter than my usual rants but what else can you say other than "press the buttons in time with the music" it doesnít really take any special tactics or skill, if you canít do it, practise and you'll get it, a few things that Harmonix have done differently this time around include the Fans system, on Rock Band World tour, the more stars you earn in a song, the more fans you earn, though Iíve not found any use for this other than for unlocking the later levels and for the "1 Million Fans" achievement. Thereís the inclusion of the "Create a Rocker" which I personally enjoyed, I enjoyed grafting each individual tattoo to his arms and making the all line up correctly, much like the "Add Art" function which allows you to customise the look of your instruments, which provided me with hours of entertainment but then again, Iím one of those hopeless souls that would use the money cheat on The Sims just to build an intricate house and never actually play the game properly.
Hardware wise, the only major difference of note would be the inclusion of the "solo fret buttons" on the guitar, which are a collection of smaller, closer buttons which, during the guitar solo, you are encouraged to use as you donít need to strum in order to pull off the sometime mind meltingly long solos, but this is where things got really fucked for me, here I am with my fingers positioned in just the right position to play guitar on expert and in the middle of a song, the game expects me to move my entire hand down the guitar neck and re-align my fingers so that I can simply benefit from not having to strum, now this is a good idea I'll admit but I thought Iíd take the middleman here and throw him under a bus and just use the solo fret buttons for every song, all the time, granted thatís possibly the only reason I can play Rock Band on Expert but I just find that their closer, my hand sit more comfortably in that position and I donít get crap in my arm after five songs like with the normal fret buttons.
Other than that there isnít more I can say, there are now particular gameplay choices that make me want to poo in Harmonix's chimney for and graphics wise, well, the inclusion of a replay function would be nice, maybe with you, the band and the audience reacting to how you play, so you have an indication of how shit you are, the better you play, the more fancy light shows go off and pyrotechnics as well but other than that you donít really notice the graphics, they might as well be graphics from the old Amiga for all the attention they get during gameplay. In conclusion, Rock Band is an enjoyable game that will keep you busy until Xylophone Hero 4 comes out.