Rock Band

Review

posted 12/11/2007 by Cyril Lachel
other articles by Cyril Lachel
One Page Platforms: 360

The actual singing part works a lot like other karaoke games, such as Sing Star. Basically words will scroll by the bottom of the screen (or, if you're playing multi-player then your box is at the top) and try to sing along hitting the right pitch. There will be a little arrow that will show you where you're pitch is, the object is to get that arrow to where the game says the right pitch is. From time to time you will have "spoken" parts; this is where you can talk out the words without worrying about the pitch. Most of the songs in Rock Band do not use these spoken portions, but from time to time you'll find a song with an excessive amount of talking. In fact, at no point do you do anything but "talk" (well, rap) when trying to sing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys. Thankfully most of the songs aren't that easy.

So now you have Rock Band all set up and you're ready to do some rocking. I'm talking about the kind of rocking where the cops show up, you trash a hotel room and you're head deep with beautiful young groupies. If that's the kind of rocking you want to do, then you will have a number of different options to select from. The single-player game is basically split up into several parts, two for each of the instruments in the package. When playing the game with the guitar, drums or microphone, you will be asked if you want to play a quickplay game or go ahead with the solo career.

The solo career works in much the same way Guitar Hero did, there's a loose story about some musician who starts in some dive bar and works their way up to playing huge theaters in New York and traveling the world on your own airplane. But when it comes right down to it this "story" (if you can even call it that) is just an excuse to get you to play the game's 45 main songs. The solo career is split up into seven different locations, each with five songs for you to sing. What you'll notice if you go from one instrument to the next is that you won't always play the songs in the same order. For example, the guitar career is different from the one you would be on if you played the drums or sang. The songs are laid out for each instrument by their difficulty, so it's sometimes funny to see something that is one of the hardest songs on one instrument be in the first grouping with another. Regardless of whether that is actually funny or not, Rock Band's solo career is just as solid as it was in Guitar Hero or Amplitude.

But when it comes right down to it Rock Band is really made for people to have a good time with other people. You came to rock, not sing your wussy solo songs without a bass or drums (though, I certainly wouldn't mind Acoustic Band, featuring Bob Dylan, Beck and Frente). Rock Band is best when you have friends over to play each of the different parts, from singing to drumming to shredding on the guitar. Not only is this the only way to see the game's true story mode (a lengthy world tour mode that can only be accessed when two players are signed on), but it's also the best way to feel like you're in an actual band.

The world tour mode is one of the most compelling additions to the music game genre. Basically you and some friends form a band (my band, for what it's worth, is named Kentia Hall) and set off to take the world by storm. At first you won't have any fans or money, which is kind of how it is when you're a struggling band. But soon you'll play enough gigs and get large enough to be booked in other nearby cities, ultimately working your way up to a full world tour. At any given time you will have a half dozen (if not more) options open to you, so you can freely jump around the map and play what you want to, where you want to.

But all this freedom comes with a price. Because there are only 45 main songs (plus 13 bonus tracks) your song choices are a bit limited. Don't get me wrong, 58 songs is quite a few, but when you are playing so many gigs you are going to be playing a lot of the same songs time and time again. I suppose you could argue that real bands play the same songs over and over again, but despite this nod to realism, it can sometimes be disappointing to play a song you played only four or five songs ago.

Thankfully there's good news, Harmonix seems determined to offer as much extra downloadable content as they can. Already there are several packages, each with three songs. And that's not all; you will also be able to buy the songs individually, so you won't have to buy a package that contains a song you don't like. Unless Harmonix deviates from the original plan, you can expect to find brand new songs for sale every week. These downloaded songs can be inserted into the world tour mode, so there may come a time when you have enough songs so that you rarely (if ever) run into a repeat.
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