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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Rock Band

If you were wondering, I spent last week at a friend's home which is probably why I missed last weeks post. Coincidentally he bought Rock Band for the PS2 and I had a chance to play a bit of it.
Before I start this review, I'd like to say, YES I know that buying rock band for the PS2 may not have been the best idea since there's no downloadable content.

If you haven't been paying attention to games lately, then you may have missed the Guitar Hero craze nowadays. I'm not going to say that I was one of those who missed it because that would simply not be true, but even so, I didn't really have a urge to play it. No, it's not because I suck, I can play Freebird on hard pretty well thank you, it's just that for a game like Guitar Hero to come out when I've already been playing DJMax, keyboard mania, and Dance Dance Revolution (insert random mix here), it's one of those "been there, done that" situations. That isn't to say I didn't try it, with that mindset. I found the Guitar Hero games to be quite innovative and generally very good. I personally didn't think it was "teh Aw3s0m3" but I can't deny that bringing this kind of game to the "public masses" was a good idea.

Rock Band is on a similar concept. It's basically mixing multiple games into one and labeling it a party game. You have the mic, two guitars (or bass, whatever) and drums all mixed into one game. It's a good concept, it's fun and you get see your friends sing badly as they try to fumble with the lyrics of a song they don't know. The parts for each instrument works generally well (well, except the mic) and I haven't seen many problems yet. Ok, I lied.

The mic system is similar (or the same to) to karaoke revolution, that abominable thing they call a game. Though, there are some upgrades done to make the singing suck less. You don't get points off for singing at the wrong time, you just get points off for singing the wrong pitch at the right time. So you can actually check your general range by singing into the mic before the song starts. It's good that you can choose to either do it their style where the notes just scroll in with the music, or you can do it karaoke style where you get the lyrics in advance and you just have to match the rhythm. The sensitivity can be adjusted but in terms of range the mic blows. It only registers about all the notes in one octave so if you ever have to sing one of those super high or super low notes, there's a chance where the mic registration fluctuates as your voice hits the barrier between the ranges for the mic. It gets frustrating on hard and expert as that just destroys the phrase. Oh and uh... no vibrato, because that has a chance to destroy the phrase as well. Frustrating huh? For those who can actually sing, they can't because they're restricted by the mic and for those who can't sing... well. They still can't... and it's frustrating.... to listen to them.

As a group the game is good, but each part individually for each song is lackluster. It's obvious that they couldn't do it to Guitar Hero standards and I'm ok with that, but it seems like they nerfed it too much. The difficulties are inconsistent with different songs and the gaps between difficulties are just too large. Well, except for bass, where it's just terrible through all difficulties except expert where it's actually fun. For the drums, it seems to go well for the first 3 or 4 groupings of songs (in terms of difficulty) and then the last few groups just step up a handful of notches and expect you to play like Keith Moon later on. Guitar is nerfed except on expert, period.

Rock band is a party game. If anyone paid 170 just to play the entire thing alone then please go ahead and smack them for me. It's a good party game and definitely an alternative that would rival Mario Party. Since the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions have downloadable content, owners of Rock Band will definitely be getting more than its worth. I can't say for sure if you have to pay for it, but downloadable content is downloadable content. I'm just waiting for them to put in an Incubus song now.

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