Rock Band Review

August 11, 2009 at 1:13 am | Posted in Reviews, Xbox 360 Reviews | 1 Comment
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Link to review

Tune up and Rock out to the summers hottest party game!!!

Being 6 months late for us over the seas in Europe, Rock Band’s delay and then price was not laughing matter. So has Rock Band got us cheering for an encore?

With the split between Red Octane and Harmonix a shock for the future of Guitar Hero, we were laid to rest with the release of GH3. But a few of us also wondered about developers Harmonix, they’d been very quiet and working away on new projects.

Shortly after Rock Band graced the American shores, an ingenious mix of their hit Guitar Hero, the ever popular karaoke classic Singstar and what’s that?? A drum kit!?

Eagerly awaiting the game the UK and Europe patiently waited for our release, some gave up hope, some stayed passionate to wait for the release, and finally, six months down the line and after one hell of a pricey tag on it the game finally came to our retail stores for us to rock out with our friends.

The game obviously still has the main focus of what Guitar Hero had started with the pressing buttons in the correct sequence on a guitar shaped controller to some of your favorite tracks of old and new. What makes Rock Band different is the game incorporates the singstar style of singing, where you must wail into a microphone and hit the correct pitch to gain points and not be kicked off stage. Obviously getting the words right makes the game a little easier, but humming or ooohing in the right tune also get you through.

With Rock Band comes the new Rock Band guitar. Being sponsored by Fender the typical Stratocaster shape has been used. The style of the buttons have been changed and features like a pick-up switch which changes the effect style of your solo’s has been included. During the songs you’ll often reach the solo. This is shown by your HUD turning blue and a percentage counter appearing for how many notes you hit. This is the ideal time to use the ‘solo buttons’ which are found further down the neck, here you can play the notes without having to strum, although children or people with smaller hands can also use these for the full song. With all of the instruments comes the use of ‘Overdrive’, which is RB’s take on star power. For guitar, drum and bass you must hit all the notes which appear in white to get a section of the power, for vocals you must sing a verse perfectly to get some of that juice to unless some multipliers and rack up those points. Overdrive can also be used if your band mates mess up too much and fail. Failing is allowed 3 times for each player provided that there saved in time not to fail the song. The Guitars Overdrive can be activated by striking that ‘LETS ROCK!’ pose and raising the top end of your guitar in the air! Hey! Hey! I wanna be a rockstaaar!!

Fortunately if you don’t have a Rock Band guitar and have GH, you can use those controllers to play Rock Band, which is good for when your mates come round…no-body ever wants to but…someone’s gotta play the Bass.

If you’re brave enough to sing your given the top half of the screen in multiplayer or the bottom half in single. Your vocal line appears within the bars and the correct lyrics are shown and you have to sing along to get the points. Your Overdrive power can be operated by singing or making noise when your bar has a yellow effect around it, this gives you your extra points whilst you’re squawking away. I mean…singing. Honest.

The drum kits also keep the same style of the playing the guitar but to make use of the drum pedal, Harmonix dropped the HUD for drums to 4 coloured bars and the drum pedal to be highlighted as an orange strip going horizontally across which must be played like you would a real drum kit. To deploy your Overdrive you’re occasionally given a drum fill to perform, this can be played however you like and as long as it ends with the green symbol your power will be activated. These custom drum fills appear once you have the minimum amount of overdrive that’s required.

The single player mode stays true to GH tradition in which you play through set lists with your band until you reach the harder songs. These 5 song set-lists increase in difficulty and length as you progress and whilst having the same songs, the order of difficulty is changed depending on which instrument you use. Guitar, Vocals or Drum kit. Also sticking with tradition is the 4 difficulty settings; Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert for each instrument.

The multiplayer side is where the big fun starts with the ‘Band World Tour’ now its important to mention that unfortunately this game mode is Local multiplayer only meaning your going to have to bring your mates over for some hefty Rock Band sessions.

Band World Tour basically is where you and 2-4 of your friends make a band. You chose a name; create a character each with the new and in-depth custom character modeling section and then start playing songs in a city.

Each city must be unlocked and within these cities are venues varying from small clubs to bigger arenas. Obviously starting out in the clubs, you’ll find yourself returning to the older cities to play the big events later on. In each venue can be one or two songs separately and a few bigger set lists which can be made up yourself or complete random selection from the songs you have on the game and DLC.

Whilst playing this, you’ll have to gain fans and stars to unlock new stages. You’ll find yourself having to get a manager, and many other people to join your team to unlock more and more things to play.

Now, if you don’t have many friends to play this fun game mode then if your really good with the instruments you can try combining them and playing them yourself!

Online really consists of ‘tug of war’ matches where players must fight to get the most notes and quick play games where 2-4 friends can all play together on songs of their choice.

The tracks are plentiful and if you cant find a song you know or like in the standard set list a healthy dose of new songs every Tuesday will surely get something you like to play. The songs play clearly and 90% of them are Master tracks, rather than covers.

The game looks a lot more nicer, GH’s cartoony approach worked well, but the visuals with Rock Band make it look more of a better game, the band members act out with the music and everything just looks a lot more serious, not so much realistic, but more of a serious tone with where the game goes.

Guitar Hero also had different designs for the ‘fret boards’ where your notes would appear. And the designs would change with each character. Rock Band have not included this and left it as a translucent black block, which makes focusing on the notes and colours a lot easier for some.

The HUD with what you have to play is a lot clearer to see and on a HD TV looks clean and crisp. Veterans of Guitar Hero may find getting the timing of the icons a little difficult at first, as each note is represented as a small block rather than the big circles you may be used to.

The background is always showing a part of the show whether it be your drummer whacking out a crazy drum fill or your singer and bassist singing the songs into a mic together and keep those who are just watching you play just as entertained.

Whilst the Single Player tours really rely on your determination to improve and/or your skill at these games. The multiplayer Band World Tour will have you and your friends at it for ours, especially when you give the Endless Set list a try. Whilst its still unfortunate this mode isn’t online it makes Rock Band one of the ultimate party games to bring round with your mates.

As well as this, as previously mentioned each Tuesday see’s a new batch of songs for you to dlc for a small price each and rock out to.

If you’re through with standing in lines to clubs you’ll never get in, or feel life’s like the bottom of the ninth and you’re never gonna win. Rock Band might just be the game for you. If you’re new to the whole Guitar Hero/Rock band style of gaming, Rock Band might just be for you, if you want a great local multiplayer experience, Rock Band is the game for you. Though definitely worth searching around in the stores for the cheaper deals that you can get. With summer coming round the corner, Rock Band is definitely one of the games to get for 2008.

Rating: 9.0

Published by: MTV Games
Developed by: Harmonix
Genre: Music
Number of Players: 1-4
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 2, Wii
Features: Xbox Live, Downloadable Content

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1 Comment »

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  1. Rock Band and Rock Star is a new genre trying to appeal to those who ove music, and doing pretty well too


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