Written by Lucas P. Jones
We here at Pop-Break.com were lucky enough to get our hands on an early copy of the new Rock Band game. As fans of the previous installments, we were extremely excited to be able to play the newest game. Music games were all the rage a few years ago, and then they fell off in popularity. For enthusiasts, the itch for a new game hasn’t gone away, and Mad Katz responded with a new Rock Band that they promised would go back to the roots of the game. Does Rock Band live up to its predecessors? Let’s dive right in.
The songs are very diverse in their genre, feel, and difficulty. Easy going tracks like “I Bet My Life” by Imagine Dragons and “Follow You Down” by the Gin Blossoms give way to more difficult rock tracks like “Panama” by Van Halen, and lead all the up to blistering, nearly impossible tracks like “Metropolis Pt. 1” by Dream Theater. As a metal-oriented person, I liked the inclusion of heavier tracks and artists, both for the difficulty and for the experience. The varied tracks give the game a comfortable difficulty level overall. You certainly don’t have to become a shredder to enjoy the game, but you do have that option.
The new peripherals look awesome. The guitars look slick, even if they feel a bit light. The drums are rock steady, very responsive and seem like they can hold up to numerous beatings. A problem that I ran into with the older drums was that the center of the pad would get dented, and the pads would stop working. On this set, the middle looks to be reinforced with thicker black plastic to avoid this problem. The microphone is also responsive and sturdy – there’s no problem picking up sounds even if you back away. My only issue is with the guitars. The buttons feel stiff, and they have too much space between them. The strum bar still lacks a precise “click” to let you know when you’ve completed a strum. This feature isn’t an issue for easier songs, but for songs like “Metropolis” and “Hail to the King,” the lack of precision is very noticeable. We weren’t able to try out the compatibility of older peripherals, but I imagine I would just dig out my Guitar Hero 2 explorer, this way I can reprise my role as “the guy who takes this stuff way too seriously.”
As for the game itself, I feel confident summing up the experience as a very positive one. We put a band together, created band members, and jumped right into the career mode. The career features a cool “choose your own adventure” option, where you are given two options to advance your career. One will get you more money and clothes (the corporate option), the other will get you more fans (the underground option). You have the option to either pick your sets, or vote on them as a band. The voting option was interesting, as it mimicked the real life experience of deciding what songs to play. And remember kids, never let your singer pick all the songs.
You have the option to drop in and out of instruments freely, both between the songs and during the song, which is a great option to have during a party, where not everyone will know the lyrics to all the songs. No fail mode is also a great option, but I still can’t understand why there is no individual hyperspeed option.
When one person selects hyperspeed mode, the game responds by speeding every player up, rather than just the player who selected it. This caused a problem where I was unable to use hyperspeed mode, which helps me see the complex solos better, because my friends weren’t used to it. Something they overlooked, or is there a technical reason for it? Either way, it would have been a nice touch.
Overall, the game looks and feels great. The devs took the game back to its roots and gave us a fantastic party game experience. We had a blast playing, and I think the game will find widespread appeal with casual and hardcore gamers alike. Looking ahead to the amount of DLC, it looks like we will be enjoying this game for a long time.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10