|System: X360, PS3, Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Harmonix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Electronic Arts/ MTV Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June. 22, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
At a relatively steep price tag of $170, the full bundle comes packed-in with the game, a USB mic, a four-pad drumkit, a single wireless guitar, and a USB hub to connect all the stuff together simultaneously. Buying a second guitar lets you add a fourth member to your virtual band on the bass. The Rock Band guitar is quite different from what Wii owners will be used with the Guitar Hero peripheral. Some will like it better; others will not. It's longer, lighter-weight, more realistic looking, and the strum bar is less "clicky," but the overall design feels a little flimsy. The note keys are set deeper into the neck and have more of a click when they're pressed. A second set of buttons, located higher on the fretboard, lets players solo by simply fingering the notes. This takes getting used-to, but it's a cool feature. The guitar is powered by three AA batteries. It works via a wireless unit that plugs into the Wii's USB port instead of fitting the Wii Remote into the peripheral itself.
The other two peripherals are extremely different, quite fun to play, and will likely appeal to many players looking for something different than the standard guitar/bass gameplay. The microphone looks realistic and is responsive to vocal pitch and phrasing. Aside from having a slick white look to match the Wii, the drumkit pads are slightly quieter than the original peripheral and are sturdy in their design. The kick pedal has a nice level of spring to it as well. Neither are wireless. The peripherals' lack of compatibility with the Guitar Hero games on the Wii is a major source of frustration, and it will likely be a deal breaker for gamers with limited funds to shell out on tons of plastic instrument controllers.
Rock Band takes a minor hit graphically on the Wii, but it's still excellent to see the highly animated bands rendered in a slightly hazy, live rock-video visual style. The bands are made up of a pleasant mix of male and female rockers, depicted in a variety of fashionable styles falling more along the punk, alternative, indie, and grunge end of the hipster spectrum. Character movements are extremely realistic and perfectly in synch to the music and action playing out in your living room - right down to note fingerings and drum hits.
As exciting as it is to play Rock Band on Nintendo's console, a two other major components have been cut out of the Wii version completely. There's no online play or support for downloadable content - the latter being a hefty blow, considering tons of songs are available on the other consoles (now including entire albums). This will be remedied by a series of disc-based track pack expansions featuring some of the DLC Wii owners are unable to obtain the traditional way. The first volume comes out this month.
The intensity of playing with other musicians in a real rock group and performing live is a serious rush, and Rock Band emulates the same vibe with incredible precision. The Wii version is not perfect, but the game is easily as enjoyable and addictive as it is on other consoles. It's an awesome way for gamers to rock out in groups, short of starting their own cover band. The gameplay is tight, the song list is excellent, and it's tough to put down once you get sucked in.
CCC Staff Contributor