Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Partial Review - Rock Band

I'm going to continue to write more of my feelings about various games that I am playing/have played over time down. I guess I could say I got Rock Band for my birthday, but it would have been an 'unbirthday present', as I was the one that went out on the 20th, bought it, and brought it home.

Rock band is a very simple overall concept game - you simulate the concept of a Rock Band. You get drums, a guitar, and a microphone. You can connect an additional guitar to "round out" the band as well. Each part of the band has a rhythm game associated with it, and while you can work through the "solo careers" in the game, the primary focus is on the "party game" aspect when you get 4 people together to play.

I'd give the single player game minimal reviews, as it's pretty basic. I've completed guitar on easy and medium so far, and done a little bit with hard. Working on adding that 5th fret button is a bit of work. I'm working through the easy mode on Drums, and done a few songs on the Mic. All of them seem to do well. The Hardware is not "professional quality", but so far mine's been solid. Some folks have complained about various issues, but I haven't had anything that I'd say is a problem. EA has already stated a 60-day warrenty is in effect on the hardware, so if folks find a flaw, they can get it replaced by EA. And from what the boards state, they are being rather quick to respond and replace equipment.

As stated above, the real draw to the game is the "Band World Tour" multiplayer. You can get up to 4 people total onto the game and play the various parts of the game. And this is really where this game completely shines. There are parts where if you really want to get serious with it you can get achievements and unlock all sorts of stuff, but in the end what you are really looking to do is have a good time with some friends.

Where this game doesn't shine is in the fanaticism of the folks on the board. I've made a few dozen posts on there, but honestly the game has gotten overly competitive for many. There could be a draw where you wouldn't look to have fun, but rather "recruit" people to play in order to get those last few achievements and unlock the last little bit. With a lack of true online co-op play for Band World Tour, the ability to "rock out" with friends from around the globe is likewise missing, which is a bit disappointing, as I have friends all over. It would be a blast to make up an online band that could rock out together online.

There are also a lot of issues with the concept of "cross game" hardware. For the folks that bought both Rock Band and Guitar Hero games, not all the controllers work either way. So you are buying a controller specific to the game, which always hinders the "value" of the package you bought to some level. So the perceived value of buying both Guitar Hero and Rock Band so you could play co-op on both with a significant other is limited as of right now. Hopefully this is a patch away from being fixed on both the Guitar Hero and Rock Band sides of the fence.

Overall, I'd give this game a 4.5 out of 5 stars or something if I had to rate it, although it's probably more of an arbitrary number more than anything else. I've had a heck of a lot of fun with it, and there is a pretty large amount of replay value even without the download content that is available. Being able to add more songs to play will only increase it. I'm not sure with the pricing of the download content if the draw will be there to buy it for everyone, but they are looking to have a great selection of additional songs to pick from. The drawbacks are needing to find extra people to come over to play, and I'm not even sure that having the online co-op would really help that all that much. The game is definitely an evolution well beyond what the "Guitar Hero" games did, but it's probably still very early in the genre to tell where it'll go. There is plenty of room in the industry for multiple games of this type.

It's interesting to watch the evolution from Pong to PS3/360/Wii how the gaming world has changed, and is still changing, focus. The need for new markets and new people to be interested in games, and the use of games to introduce folks to new ways of thinking, is amazing.

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