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'Rock Band' Review (Xbox 360)

Submitted by thankeeka on December 5, 2007 - 12:08pm. Exclusive Game Review

Guitar Hero has proven itself as a hit, not just with us, but with fans everywhere. Though the Guitar Hero franchise has been a big hit, what about those people out there who dream of something more than playing the six-string? What of those rockers who dream of booming the bass, pounding the drums, or belting out the lyrics? Along comes Rock Band, who promises to make all your rock n’ roll dreams come true no matter what the instrument, but instead of sounding like the best band in the world, why are we left feeling as if we’d never be able to quit playing dirty bars and birthday parties?

As it is right now, you can only buy the over $150 dollar set, which will net you the game, a microphone, a guitar, and a drum kit. With a game that costs so much money to invest in, just why exactly could they not have spent just a little more time or expenses on developing their hardware so it wasn’t all a pile of junk. The guitar is greatly inferior to the wireless guitar that came with the Guitar Hero 3 sets, because though the styling and size feel great, it feels too light and fake, the strum bar doesn’t click to give you feedback, and after taking the guitar out of the box, there was already something loose and clinking around inside the guitar. The strum bar is the greatest fault, as it’s hard to tell just when you are actually connecting with a solid note, and it often felt like the game wouldn’t register our down strums; we quickly disposed of the guitar and went back to one that actually works. The only good thing about the guitar was the fret buttons, which are closer together and easier to hit, plus there is an extra set you can play on for those with smaller hands, kids, or when you just want to show off and really rock out.

The drum kit fairs better from a practical standpoint, as the system is pretty easy to put together, and after some tweaking you’ll find your zone where the height is just right and the set is a far enough distance from you so that your arms won’t get tired from the constant drumming and hanging in the air. The drums themselves feel sturdy at times, but also as if they could break any minute. At first we thought we sucked at the drums, and we did, but after a little more playing we should’ve easily jumped in and learned proper technique. It was then, after hours of playing, we started getting confused by how we were missing such easy notes, and the sheer fact is…we shouldn’t have been missing them. Much like the guitar, the drums don’t register hits properly, so we were often missing notes, not because of faults of our own, but because of spotty hardware. We pressed on and played despite the drums, knowing that we were doing good even if the system wasn’t telling us we were, however, after playing for a while and never seeing improvement, we just got infuriated and eventually quit playing the drums altogether.

The best hardware in the whole box is the microphone, and even it doesn’t seem like it works as it should. The microphone reads cowbell and tambourine hits on the side well enough, but it often didn’t feel as if it was amplifying and properly displaying our voice through the television speakers; even when we had the included audio turned all the way down, it didn’t ever feel as if our voice was coming out properly.

The game includes a solo mode for players who can’t get any buddies to gather at their homes for some local multiplayer, but it’s nowhere near as solid as the single-player game that is in the Guitar Hero franchise. For one thing there is no story-esque mode, just one song to challenge yourself after another. The guitar and drum solo tours suffer because of the faulty products and how they don’t want to register every hit, and as for the vocal solo tour, you can easily get through just humming the songs or saying one word over and over at the proper pitch. The single-player solo tour also suffers from the fact that there is no way to go through a bass solo tour; not everyone will miss the fact that there is no bass game, but for those who want the full package and who play bass in real life, not getting a single-player bass portion is a big letdown.

The guitar and bass gameplay portions play just like how Guitar Hero does, with practically the exact same notes and techniques being done the same. The game differs only in the notes, which take on a bar appearance rather than round notes, plus the fact that it’s harder to see just when you can do hammer-ons, as the only thing separating them is the fact that the bars are slightly shorter, which isn’t easy to notice when a song is starting to move really fast; the color system of Guitar Hero is much better. The drums also play like the guitars, with you hitting the correct corresponding colored pad whenever the right colored not comes down. The only difference between the guitar gameplay and drum gameplay comes from the kickstand, which is the bass of the drum kit; whenever you see a solid orange line come down the note path, you step on the kickstand to activate the note. Meanwhile, for the vocals, though the game gives you the lyrics, it’s not often easy to know just what the word is you are trying to sing, as they break them down weird, splitting one word over two or three different breaks, making you miss words constantly because you don’t know what word they want you to sing until you’ve read each part, compiled them together, and then realize what you were actually saying. Another problem with the vocals is that the game doesn’t so much recognize words as it does pitches, which are indicated by a green bar that shows how the pitch goes up and down during the song; in order to do good you just recreate the pitch by trying to keep the arrow in the highlighted section while you sing. As we said earlier, you can get through the vocals completely by humming in the right pitch, so even this system is busted.

The draw behind the single-player is to create your own character, work through song lists to get to even better songs (in theory, not so much in practice) and earn enough money to buy new clothes to deck your rocker out in, new hair, tattoos, or even new instruments. When the most fun I had with the game was dressing up my character in some different clothes, you know something is messed up.

The multiplayer plays just like the single-player, though the World Tour gives you a feeling of story, though in reality there isn’t one. You’ll start by creating a band name, band members, and then heading out to play songs. By doing well in songs you unlock more songs, more venues, and you’ll earn things like a van for touring, a manager, and move on through the ranks as such. The game also tracks fans, so if you do well you’ll earn fans, but if you fail or do poorly you’ll lose fans – like in real life. The multiplayer functions a little better, if only because the laughing and good times of hanging with a friend is better than playing alone, because then you can at least make fun of the game and hate on the same stuff together. The greatest disappointment though is that if you don’t have any friends that live in your area, good luck on playing the World Tour, as you can’t make bands online, which is a big flaw on the developer’s side of things. Why would you not include this? If you’d rather battle friends, you can do that, but it’s not as fun as playing together during a song.

However, despite all the technical problems, in the end it’s all about the music, and it’s just not there. With Guitar Hero 3 song selection was almost perfected, as there were a ton of songs, and there were many I could play over and over again, and rarely was there one I’d play just once and never touch again. With Rock Band, though, there’s nothing but song after song I’ve never heard and just don’t sound good. Who picked these steaming piles? There are also some songs featured in Guitar Hero 3, which are done better over in that franchise despite the fact that added instruments should’ve made the Rock Band versions better. As I’m writing this I’m trying to think of a great song from Rock Band that I love and would play over and over again, but I can’t think of one to save my life. Maybe Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive if push came to shove. Another problem is that there isn’t much challenge, unless you are looking solely at the drum section, but whether that’s because they are actually challenging or because of the hardware remains to be seen; the guitar and vocal parts are really easy and provide no challenge other than a missed note here or there.

Some of the pyro effects on stage looks nice, and the characters aren’t bad looking, but the game just isn’t as graphically polished as Guitar Hero 3, though they feature many of the same elements. Overall the graphics are just flat and average. The sound effects fair better, as they should given the type of game Rock Band is, with the coolest moments coming from how the crowd will sing many of the songs back at you, giving the set a more real and lively vibe than the one in Guitar Hero 3.

The truth is that Rock Band is one of the greatest failures as of recent, as I was nothing but psyched for the game, and was thrilled to death digging into my box, pulling things out, and setting up my instruments. When it came to the actual rocking, however, it was nothing but one disappointment and failure one after another. Terrible hardware, a weird assortment of songs, and gameplay that is sorely lacking – save your money and stay away from this game until either the hardware gets fixed or some great songs come online through Xbox Live, because as it is now, we could care less if we ever play Rock Band again.

Our Scoring System

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This is easily one of the most unprofessional reviews I've ever seen. Obvious fanboyism, every sentence is talking about how much better Guitar Hero 3 is. I could go on and on about how wrong you are on so so so many points but it would be a waste of time since you a clearly a GH3 fanboy. I truly hope that this review is not credited by any meta-sites or newssites as anything more than the random blogging of a biased fanboy.

On a side note you seriously need to broaden your horizons musically.

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Fanboy crit

It's got nothing to do with being a fanboy, it's about making just comparissons between two similar products, and even comparing Harmonix first franchise with their newest one, and noticing how they have taken many steps back in terms of not only quality, but fun and musical selections.

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Is this site even real?

Today is my first time on this site, and I can tell from the first review I see (rockband) that this is the most unprofessional review site. I have never heard such a biast point of view. Did Harmonix really send you that review kit, or did you have to go and buy it? I came, and im done with this site.

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Confused by logic

I'm confused by your "Did Harmonix really send you that review kit, or did you have to go and buy it?" What does that even mean? How would that even have a bearing on how good or not the game is?

Look, if you fit the exact bill of the game, of course you're going to like it. However, there are too many faults for "US" to like it. The hardware was faulty and unresponsive. It fully lacked a bass solo tour. There is no online World Tour mode, meaning that if you have no friends to gather with you, the thing that is supposed to be the most fun to you is lost. And finally there aren't a ton of songs on here, and regardless of that, there aren't many songs we practically enjoy.

That's not personal bias - those are facts (beyond the song choices, as not everyone may hate the songs, but we did).

We still gave the game a 3, which is average. And if you read what our star reviews actually mean, you would see that three stars means:

"An average product with some goods and bads, but will not appeal to the mainstream audience across the board. Fans of the genre will probably enjoy it, but notice its shortcomings as well."

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