Rock Band

Image: Rock Band

A dead set winner for parties and games nights.

If you’re looking for the ideal game for a fun night with friends and family, then Rock Band is for you. Original review from the Christ Centered Gamer.

What Rock Band gets right, it gets right in spades. The graphics are smooth and stylized, with phenomenal animation and stage shows that are synchronized with the music. As for the actual game play, the note patterns make sense (unlike in Guitar Hero 3), gradually stepping up in difficulty as you move down the list of songs to play. However, the free form nature of the Band World Tour means that the difficulty fluctuates wildly, often with some of the hardest songs on disc ending up next to the easiest ones. While this results in an uneven difficulty at times in the multiplayer mode, it encourages team work and cooperation as a means to succeed.

Single player, however, takes another form, regressing to the typical Guitar Hero career mode structure, where songs are placed in a tier according to difficulty. While this doesn’t really affect the main game play, it does show that Rock Band was meant to be, primarily, a multiplayer game.

And in that, it works quite well. Never is Rock Band so effective, or fun, than when it’s played in a group of three or four people. Cooperation is imperative to the game itself, both to making the best sounding music possible, as well as scoring as high as you can. If a player isn’t hitting their notes, then the part of that instrument stops playing. This can be set for vocals, too, but the default is with the actual singer of the band singing along with the player. As a band moves through songs, little things occur that show how well the band is doing. One is called Band Unity. This icon appears during specific sections of the song, and gives extra points when that section of the song is hit dead-on. Another of these things is for the bassist; when the bassist starts playing well, the on-screen fret board turns blue, showing that the bassist is hitting the rhythm just right.

Customization is a major part of the Rock Band experience, and it’s one that demolishes expectations. Players can customize everything, from their haircuts to their tattoos, from their clothing to the stickers on their instruments, and it all works flawlessly. In fact, the only real problem with the customization is a severe lack of faces to choose from: while there are at least ten for either male or female, you’re likely to see the same face in a band twice, which is a bit of a disappointment. Still, with so many accessories, make-up options, clothing and hair styles, as well as a ton of instruments, the chances that your character will look exactly like another in the same game is slim to none.

The song list in Rock Band is easily the best that Harmonix has come up with. The vast majority of songs are fun to play and memorable, with only a few stinkers in the entire bunch. Add in downloadable content, and Rock Band is practically infinitely replayable. The main problem that I noticed with the soundtrack, at least during play-throughs on consoles without downloaded songs, was that songs tended to repeat, and often. If you haven’t progressed to a certain level in the Band World Tour mode, you’re likely to hear songs repeating over and over again, ad nauseam.

By and large, the songs that are featured in Rock Band are pretty clean. At least three songs on disc feature offensive lyrics (“Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys, “Here It Goes Again” by OK Go and “Highway Star” by Deep Purple), with at least one featuring some sexual content. Players looking to download songs should be far more weary. From disturbing or sexual lyrics (Queens of the Stone Age, Haunted) to profanity (Weezer) to occultic and drug references (Black Sabbath), downloadable songs should be looked over prior to purchase by any concerned about possible offensive content.

Still, for those rhythm game junkies (like me), or those looking for a great family/party game, this is it. Rock Band is sure to last you years, and with the recent announcement of Rock Band 2, which features full compatibility with the first game’s downloadable songs, Harmonix has the hit that will keep them going as a studio.

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