Rock Band 4 Review
Rock Band 4 Box Art
System: PS4*, Xbox One
Dev: Harmonix
Pub: Harmonix, Mad Catz
Release: October 6, 2015
Players: 1-4
Screen Resolution: 480p-1080i Lyrics
Rock n' Roll Dreams Do Come True
by Jenni Lada

I still remember my first (Rock Band) band. I was at a Goodwill store with some friends a few years ago, and they had a copy of Rock Band 2, the drum kit, and one guitar. $15 later, we were at my house, putting on some rather admirable concerts. Those were good times, but I always felt as though something was lacking. As much as I enjoyed the game, I doubted there would be enough pull to convince me to majorly invest in a full band kit at launch and the DLC.

Now, years later, Rock Band 4 has come into my life. Today, the series feels like it has everything to make a serious investment and commitment worthwhile, and I’m more than happy to jump in, encourage friends to join me, and make a dedicated effort to maintaining a virtual band and keeping up with the catalog.

Perhaps it’s because Rock Band 4 makes a great first impression. All of the DLC I purchased before will be waiting for me, so it isn’t as though the money I kicked in years ago was for naught. The one PlayStation 3 guitar I have from that Goodwill trip still works on my PlayStation 4. Having 65 tracks on the disc is a big help too, especially since it turned out I was more familiar with the roster than I thought after hearing the refrain of a few songs. Put simply, Rock Band 4 is easy. It’s accommodating. The game welcomes you back with open arms, new favorites and old, and encourages you to pick up practically where you left off.

But before you can do all that, you need to set your Rock Band 4 instruments up. This is a surprisingly daunting endeavor. The PlayStation 4 only supports up to 4 bluetooth controllers simultaneously, and each guitar and drum kit counts as one. This means only one PS4 DualShock 4 can be connected, with all instruments tied to that player's account. There's no reminder about this though, which can result in a troublesome setup the first time you play.

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Especially since I encountered a rather odd bug with the Rock Band 4 guitar controller. One of the people in my band is left-handed, so whenever he took a turn on the guitar, it had to be shifted to lefty mode. After about the third time he did this, the guitar stopped working. We had to exit to the PS4's main menu, delete the peripheral from the Bluetooth devices list, re-register it, and only then would it resume its normal functions.

Once someone does get all of the band equipped, Rock Band 4 is mostly smooth sailing. Everyone's part is clearly defined on-screen, with opportunities for unison notes clearly labeled. Every person gets their own chance to stand out in the band, even if they have an instrument that might typically play a smaller part, due to the optional Freestyle Guitar Solos and Overdrive drum sections. The former allows someone playing guitar or bass to emulate suggested styles, with no way to really "fail," while the latter offers pre-set drum sections for people to riff on.

Rock Band 4 Screenshot

It's the vocal section that I felt received the most love with Rock Band 4, something that was appreciated by the less dexterous members of my band. If more than one microphone is plugged in, you can sing lead vocals or harmony. People who are accomplished enough can even chime in with backup vocals while playing another instrument. It not only enhances the game, but puts various karaoke titles to shame with its offerings.

Rock Band 4 Screenshot

Did I mention how easy it is to get in and out of things and arrange things to your liking? Because Rock Band 4 goes out of its way to meet your every desire. Want to step away for a few songs while everyone else plays? You can drop in and out. Difficulty levels can be adjusted at any time. If you fail, but the rest of the group is still going, you can opt back in at a lower difficulty level. It even feels like it’s better for beginners, due to a no fail option that I’m sure people unfamiliar with the series will appreciate as they’re finding their groove.

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