Review: “Rock Band” Part 2: Bullet points!

January 2nd, 2008 by Tommy Gun

Rock BandThis is part 2 of my review, also see part 1.

Quick Summary: Rock Band is Guitar Hero/Drum Hero/Karaoke Revolution combined. Made by Harmonix, the creators of Guitar Hero, it's the ultimate party music game.

Solid

The game is awesome.
I’m not going to focus on all the little good things here, so let me just say that I love the game. There are some major usability issues that I’ll be discussing in the future, but the venues, characters, and core gameplay are fantastic.
Stars are displayed as you earn them.
You always know exactly how well you’re doing because the stars have orange circles around them. They fill up as you’re playing, and when you earn another star it “dings.” This can anger you when you’re one pixel away from five stars, but it also creates some cool moments. I finished the Vocal Solo Tour on Medium (my voice sucks). On a few of the songs, I just barely got five stars. I was singing “Suffragette City,” and at the end saw I was so close to five stars. I had already activated my overdrive, and just had a tiny bit left. The very last part of the song isn’t singing, it’s just yelling “Suff-ra-gette!” at the right time. Well I literally got five stars on the last syllable of the song!
The solo buttons on the guitar make tapping much easier.
Not just during the official solo sections, but for any HOPOs, you can use your right hand to hit the small orange button since it’s so close to the strum bar.
The audience sings along.
During certain parts of the song, the audience will actually sing along in the background. It’s great.

Cracked

The avatars are tied to their instruments.
This part was really confusing me until I actually played it. When you create a character, you do it with the instrument you’re using. After that, you can ONLY use that character on that instrument! So when I went to play the Solo Tour, I had to create TWO more characters in order to sing and play guitar, since my original character could ONLY play the drums. Stupid. This was because our singer and guitarist were on different Xbox profiles. You also can never change height/weight/face of your character, so choose wisely! (You can change hair/clothes later.)
To buy new songs, you need to quit to the dashboard.
There’s no in-game menu for it, you actually have to quit the game, go to the dashboard, find Rock Band on marketplace, then buy songs. It’s just one giant list, and will be very cluttered once more songs are available. (And be careful not to buy a song pack, and also buy the songs again individually.)
Fan limit depends on lowest difficulty.
In BWT mode, there is a cap on the number of fans you can get, depending on the lowest difficulty someone is playing on. So if ONE person is playing on Medium, and the others are playing on Expert, Medium counts. You’ll still gain money, but no more fans once you’re at the limit. For a longer discussion on this, see my future posts.
Drum bass notes “bounce” the screen.
Every time you hit a bass note on the drums, the drum lanes “bounce” on screen. It’s very subtle, but I find it pretty annoying. I’m already getting tunnel vision from the game, and this doesn’t help. Maybe it’s cool on Easy, but on the harder difficulties there are constant bass notes. I don’t really notice it much anymore, but then what’s the point? If you see it, it’s annoying; if you don’t, why bother putting it in?
DLC songs are not well implemented
When you buy new songs, they will appear in Random setlists, or you can use them in “make your own” sets. It’s better than nothing, but I really hope they’ll change this. More about this in future posts.

Broken

Band Leader
You need to choose a “band leader” to play BWT mode. After they’re chosen, they ALWAYS have to be playing, and can’t switch instruments. So if you start with the leader on drums, and later want to play guitar/mic with someone, you can’t. Someone will always have to play the drums, or you’ll have to start a new band or play quickplay. Recommendation: make the guitarist the leader, since you’ll probably always have someone on guitar. If you want to play BWT by yourself (must play two instruments), make the vocalist the leader, and then you can switch your other instrument whenever you want. You CAN change your band name whenever you want, so that’s good.

Conclusion

The future is definitely bright for Rock Band. They’re offering new song downloads every single week, with full albums to come. Two dollars per song is more than I had hoped they’d be, but you have to remember you’re basically getting three games in one here. They are offering some songs for $1, but it’s only for a limited time. You also aren’t forced to buy bundles, so that’s great. The game is so solid, with new songs coming in all the time, you could be playing this for years and years. I know I will be.

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