From the time Rock Band and Guitar Hero 3 were announced, fans have been debating which will be the better game. Now that they’re both here and I’ve played them both for many hours, I finally have the verdict: Rock Band is far superior to Guitar Hero 3 and every music game that came before it.
At this point, I know what you’re probably thinking: Sure, Rock Band looks great, but what about the cost? 170 bucks seems like a lot of money for a video game and is just under what people are used to paying for a whole system. But consider that you’ll be playing the game alongside 2-3 friends every time and the cost becomes much more bearable and pretty close to what you’d pay for a regular Ps3 or XBox 360 game. You can also use microphones or guitars from other games including Guitar Hero games.
Now that we’ve got your price worries out of the way, on to the actual game. Rock Band is best played with three or four players, but two also works just fine and still gives you a good sense of what it’s like to play in a band, especially when you have one person on guitar and one on drums. Playing solo is not recommended, but if you do, the game’s not much different from Guitar Hero.
Using the different instruments (guitar, second guitar used as bass, drums, and microphone) together in harmony is what makes the game so fun, and each instrument has a unique feel to it. The guitar that comes in the $170 package is superior to the Guitar Hero ones because it gives you more freedom over effects when doing solos. Meanwhile, the mic is pretty much the same as what you get with karoake games.
The drums are the new instrument here and probably the most fun to play overall. Using the included pedal on the bottom part of the drum stand and keeping the correct rhythm is a little tricky at first but soon becomes rewarding and fun to play with practice.
The soundtrack here is excellent, including more than 40 standard tracks that all do a good job of showcasing different instruments and incorporating a grandiose full-band sound. Some of the standouts that make good use of particular instruments include Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” with its out-of-control guitar solo and Aerosmith’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’s” drum solos.
Speaking of solos, they’re handled much differently in Rock Band than in the Guitar Hero series as they let you get a little creative while taking a break from the monotony of playing along to exact notes all the time. Whenever a designated solo part comes up, you simply hit as many notes in whatever combination you want and then finish it off with a single note at the end to rack up big points.
The Career mode is also a big improvement over the Guitar Hero series because instead of simply playing different tiers of tracks, your band travels from city-to-city around the world, racking up fans, money, and other items like jets and tour buses that allow your band to play new venues and new tracks. There are also mystery setlists that throw random tracks at you to keep you on your toes.
Downloadable songs and albums are also a big part of the experience as many future releases are planned, which should keep the game from getting stale like past Guitar Hero games.
The new features are nice, but what really sets the game apart is that feeling you can only get when playing alongside your friends. It really does feel like you’re in your own band when you get a good three or four people playing together at once, and the comaraderie and teamwork that comes from playing together is the highlight of the game. You even get to name your band and customize and name each band member, further adding to the experience of being a true rock band.
While there are a couple flaws such as a lack of song variety at times in the career mode and the fact that the drums are so loud that it’s not a good idea to play a night when people are trying to sleep, that doesn’t change the fact that Rock Band is the best music game of all-time and a must-play experience for every gamer who happens to love rock music. Actually, even people that don’t like rock music might come out as a fan of the genre by the time they sink their teeth into this gaming masterpiece.