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April 6, 2009 | by  | in Opinion |
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Rock Band

Everybody wants to be a rock star. A life of fame, riches, glory, general pandemonium… now you can!

Well, no not really. Rock Band won’t make you a rock star. But it’s so much fun! Playing your way through immortal songs like Metallica ‘Enter Sandman’, Iron Maiden ‘Run to the hills’ and Soundgarden ‘Black Hole Sun’; fun songs like OK Go’s ‘Here it Goes Again’, Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and Jet’s ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’; is a hilariously good time. And even belting out the occasional ridiculous song can elicit a chuckle—anyone for South Park’s own ‘Timmy and the Lords of the Underworld?’ Oh yeah…!

Rock Band has been out for a while now. Hell, Rock Band 2 has been out for a while in the States. If you haven’t played it, I’m sure you’ve at least played Guitar Hero; or SingStar for that matter. And if you haven’t played any of these—what are you doing reading a game review? (seriously, it’s been THAT big).

The concept is deliciously simple. Pick your weapon of choice (mic, guitar, bass or drums), find three friends to join you and start a band. You get to create your own rocker from scratch, which can take anything from 20 seconds to quarter of an hour if you’re picky. Pick a band name (my own supergroup—Psychedelic Pudding—is already in the Hall of Fame) and soon you will start rocking your way through the 68 included songs.

Rock Band features several different playing modes. The Tour mode involves taking your band from their humble origins to the giant stadiums of the world. You score points by playing through songs and set-lists without getting booed off stage to gain fans and stars. As you build your band up you pick up groupies, a tour bus, security, a manager, and you can even unlock a pimpin’ private jet. If you’re alone there’s the solo tour which is a bit more straight forward. In the same vein as its predecessor Guitar Hero, you have to complete five songs in each stage to unlock the next five. Each gig earns you money to customize your rocker with a huge number of clothes, accessories, tattoos, haircuts and instruments.

The most significant new feature of Rock Band was the drum kit. Being an actual drummer I was expecting the kit to be a bit crap, but it’s great for a game controller. You’ve got four coloured pads and a kick pedal. The drums are a lot of fun to play, although they seem a bit intimidating to newcomers. In my experience anyone can play through the songs on easy, and it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it and move on up. The difficulty levels cater to everyone, and everyone wants a go. The only drawback I’ve found is that on expert the kick pedal becomes a bit inadequate and can be difficult to operate at the (foot-achingly) necessary speeds.

The guitar is solid and reliable. Those of you coming from Guitar Hero may have a problem with the differences, but I prefer it. Again, the difficulty levels cater to everyone. There are plenty of songs which are just plain fun to play, and there are enough ridiculously long solos to keep the experts happy.

In my flat the microphone is the least popular, and often it takes a few drinks before anyone will pick it up. But there’s nothing like belting out old rock classics when you are totally fucked. The mic mode is simple enough; the words and pitch scroll along the top and you get points for hitting the right pitch consistently. Features like the tambourine and freestyle sections make it a bit more interesting, and it can be a lot of fun to blast out a song like ‘Dani California’.

I haven’t explored the powerful online capabilities of this game, but I hear it’s great. Play in a band with strangers over the internet, or pit your band against another. One of the features I’m dying to explore is the downloadable content. There are over 500 songs available for purchase and download online! It’s like an interactive itunes! Yusssss!

Whether in a group or alone, Rock Band is a lot of fun. But in my opinion you should be cautious about buying it. This game is disgustingly addictive. I know, my studies are suffering for it!

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Platform: Xbox360
Genre: Music Video Game
Developer: Harmonix Music Systems

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