Rock Band Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

Xbox 360
Release date:
November 20th, 2007
EA Games
1 - 4
Music Action

Rock Band

A big box full of fun for aspiring fake bands everywhere.

Review by Aaron Drewniak (Email)
November 26th 2007

Many of us have the shared memory of being a little kid, and having one Christmas where the one thing you really wanted was some impossibly huge and expensive toy that came in a box so massive you couldn't even lift it alone. You made your letter to "Santa," dropped all the appropriate hints to your parents, and then come Christmas morning what's waiting under the tree? Small boxes full of disappointment. Well, Rock Band comes in a box large enough to fit your younger self inside it, and still have room for the guitar. It's a gift that not many kids will be getting for the holidays, but I'm sure some adults will be rocking out under the Christmas tree.

Guitar, drums, vocals...all come with extensive training modes, though I wish the one for singing had gone into a little more detail to help me with my wobbling pitch. Still, you can repeat any steps you have trouble with or skip over ones that are just getting in the way, until you feel comfortable to tackle some real music. Personal bias here, but I think Rock Band's song list is the best so far in the music game genre, and knowing more than half the songs by heart definitely helped out on the higher difficulties. There are fewer tunes than in its rival Guitar Hero III, but there's a lot more to do with them.

With so much on disc content, and plenty of downloadable content being rolled out, Rock Band is an investment that will keep you and your friends rocking for a long time to come.

If you're by your lonesome, there's solo modes for all three instruments, where you can customize your own personal rock idol from plenty of hair, body, and clothing options, most of which you'll have to earn either by completing songs or paying up with your in game cash. The one minor problem is avatars are locked to a particular instrument, so if you want to switch your singer to a drummer, you'll have to recreate them under a separate identity. Once the party gets started, it works much like Guitar Hero, with set lists to dominate and thus unlock new locations with tougher tunes to play. The one change here is bonus tracks are no longer bought, but earned by defeating them in the bonus concert that can be played at any time, which is a great relief when you're stuck on a particular song on the main list but still crave the jam.

During a song, guitars play much the same as the GH series. Hit the colored frets in time with the music to please the crowd, though Star Power is now called Overdrive, and you can earn more even after activating it for longer lasting multipliers. There are also solo sections where high completion rates mean even more bonus points, and end of the song jams where you can strum however you please and earn massive points as long as you nail the final notes. Singing will be familiar to anyone who's dabbled in Karaoke Revolution. Lyrics scroll across the screen with markers indicating the pitch you should aim for. Hit most of the right notes and your score multiplier goes up, with golden passages giving you Overdrive to boost your score even higher. Some songs have special sections where you tap the microphone to simulate tambourines or even a cowbell for the infamous Don't Fear the Reaper, which indeed doesn't need any more cowbell, though these sections are optional in case you'd like to sing and strum at the same time. Drums play out much like the guitar, with four big pads and a kicker that you'll have to match up with the onscreen icons, including little fill sections and big end of the song jams. It's a bit difficult to get used to the rapid pace, rhythm, and coordination needed to tackle this section of the game, but once you get over that hump, they'll have to pry the drumsticks from your cold, dead fingers.

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