Rock Band Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii
Rock Band box art
System: PS3, X360 Review Rating Legend
Dev: Harmonix 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: MTV Games, EA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Nov. 20, 2007 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
Getting the Band Together

by Matthew Walker

The excitement of rock can cross oceans and generations. Therefore, it is no wonder that games like Guitar Hero thrive in our industry. After all, every one of us has to admit to at least once playing the air guitar with one of our favorite songs. However, there is one other fabled instrument of rock everyone has probably played more than the air guitar - the air drums. Therefore, those people have been looking for a game title to let their inner stick wielder free. The same is said about those who need to stretch out their vocal cords in a merging of instruments. This is where Rock Band comes in.

Rock Band screenshot

In a similar manner to putting a rock solid band together, Rock Band relies on you having equally excited rock enthusiasts to fill up a band. This will also come in handy when you bring the game home. That way, everyone can be building the drum kit, setting up the guitar(s), and getting the game ready in your console. The most important part of setting up the game that is vital to group participation is, of course, the band's name. Then you'll have to create your band members. While having this customization available is great, I do wish there had been a little more focus on the overall package of graphics than the movements and lip-synching of the characters. It's nothing abysmal to look at and does deliver a rather welcome dose of realistic lighting effects.

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Most will notice the similarities between Guitar Hero and Rock Band right away. There are fret necks that run for the Guitar, Bass, which you will have to either buy a new one or use the one from Guitar Hero, and Drums. The vocals operate on a similar karaoke technique we have grown accustomed to (similar to Sing Star). Although it is a big comparison, it still is only minute when compared. After all, the score box is different, as is the "rock" meter and the press points on the fret necks. The pressure buttons are thinner and require a more precise action than the rounded buttons on Guitar Hero. While this is a great thing for perfectionists, I feel that in a way this precision action diminishes some of the major appeal of the Guitar Hero franchise. This is a small thing, but you will find yourself frustrated if you carry over some playing habits of Guitar Hero. It will definitely take you some time to get adjusted.

Rock Band screenshot

The drums are a different story all together. Honestly, if you have any rhythm at all, the easy setting on the drums will frustrate you more than the hard setting. Feeling the vibes of the music on the easy setting will cause you to fail repeatedly. Maybe it is the pacing of the board or the fewer notes that you are required to hit, but whatever it is, you will find yourself struggling to find the rhythm and will want to quickly switch the difficulty level. In fact, if you are the rhythm king amongst your friends, they might be dependent on you to save them if they fall off the stage.

This is one of the great features about the multiplayer mode. Instead of you failing and bringing your whole band down with you, if you trip up and trash a song, then it will be just you sitting on the sidelines. At least until your band mates use the overdrive (Star power) and they revive you for one more shot, or rather two more since you have the 'three strikes you're out' system working for you. This is probably my favorite part of the game. Instead of one dynamo shining above all, Rock Band focuses on the band working together, and yes, there will even be times that the band will fight amongst one another. However, this is the truest representation of how a band might work together in order to make it through a grueling concert or just a casual gig at your local dive. This is even more apparent in the Band World Tour Mode.

Rock Band screenshot

The Band World Tour is probably the single best reason to run out and get this game. However, right now it doesn't support online play, but they are planning on a possible future patch to fix this. For now, you will have to play through it locally, but it is best to get in the practice while you can. You'll start out small and will have to work your way up in fans and recognition to play the big arenas, making your way to superstardom. However, there is a catch. Perform poorly in a couple of the big arenas and it doesn't matter what kind of mega group you are, even your most loyal fans'll kick you to the curb. The fans are the only thing that you can lose and they can be hard to get back as you progress back up the ladder to the big arenas. You won't be able to play those big arenas that flash your band's name in lights until your fan level is back to acceptable. Nevertheless, stick together and the band will thrive once more.

Screenshots / Images
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