As readers can tell, I’ve been a bit late getting back into the console video games. My last console (before my new XBOX 360) was a Sega, so that tells some users how long its been.
I’ve looked at the Guitar Hero buzz as something of interest, but I’ve never been one for feats of coordination or rhythm games such as that. So I never experienced the Guitar Hero phenomenon.
This Christmas (2007) I was treated to a Rock Band night with a few family members (some photos on my Facebook profile for friends & family). Rock Band is developed by Harmonix, who also brought us Guitar Hero I & II (but they didn’t develop GH3).
The biggest difference between Guitar Hero and Rock Band is that Guitar Hero is focused on a single instrument (the guitar, duh). Rock Band comes with a drum set, a microphone, and a guitar (with an additional jack for second guitar). The guitar can be either a guitar or bass (but you can only have a maximum of 1 guitar and 1 bass per play).
At first, it took me a while to get the rhythms down. Starting out with old familiar songs such as Wanted Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi) and Epic (Faith No More) helped quite a bit. If you’ve played Guitar Hero series, then you’ll instantly be familiar with the guitars (the guitars of the two games are interchangeable).
I started out with the drums, which I later found to be the most difficult to perform. There’s a kick peddle and four “drums”. As the notes scroll down the screen, you tap the correct drum(s) and/or kick peddle. (If that’s the correct terms…).
At first, I found that coordinate my hands and foot to hit multiple drums a bit difficult. I failed the first few times and needed to be saved by a fellow band member. Luckily, a lot of my family play on expert mode on several of the instruments and could keep the band from getting kicked off the stage almost every time. After a few songs of practice, I was able to score around 85% on the drums on Easy mode.
Moving on to the next instrument, I played the guitar for a bit. I think this was probably the second most difficult instrument. Even on Easy mode, some songs (like Enter Sandman) was just crazy on my fingers. The first two buttons were pretty easy to reach, but the third button played havoc on my finger for at least an hour or so. Finally, I was able to use three fingers (only 3 buttons are used on Easy mode) to reach all of the buttons. I was able to score in the mid-eighties in guitar mode, but usually scored much lower.
Finally, I found my tempo on the bass. The bass uses the same guitar controller as the guitar, but there’s a lot less button combinations. Usually, it’s only one of the three at the same time with a bit more of an interval between the notes. I was rocking the bass with scores in the high-nineties (97% with 187 continuous correct keys on my best).
Lastly, I skipped singing, but from listening to the others sing, you don’t need to be a karaoke master to get a good score here.
I really enjoyed the game and I’m thinking about getting it in a few months after I finish Marvel Ultimate Alliance and Mass Effect. I’m hoping that the rumors are true about the wireless instruments coming out in February 2008. I think that’s the only downside of the game is that there’s a lot of wires involved and you really need at least 3 people to have a fun time, even though only 1 is required.
My only hesitation is that I don’t know if I’ll have enough friends over to actually ever have a Rock Band party. Also, right now the song selection is pretty limited. However, Harmonix is putting out a new download every week with new songs (varies from $0.99 per song or a few dollars for a few songs in a song pack). I’m hoping for some Rage Against the Machine, U2, and an expanded 80s selection.