Sunday, February 17, 2008

Review: Rock Band for PS3

I bought Rock Band for my PS3 as a Christmas gift for myself. Rock Band, made by Guitar Hero (Activision) rival EA (which has since been absorbed into Activision), is the latest in the new genre of "Rhythm Video Games," meaning games that require the player to press the buttons in a certain order at a certain time. Think, if you will, "Simon" when you're reading the notes as its going along.

The cool thing about Rock Band: not only does it have the requisite guitar controller (which is an electric guitar-shaped thing, with five buttons and a "strum bar," that you hit to make the "notes" register in the game), but it has a microphone for singing, and a drum kit for playing. The drum kit is a highlight for me - it's got four pads, ranned in an arc, and a kick pedal for the bass drum sounds.

The game play is really pretty cool - you select a song, and - as the song plays - the "notes" are read down the screen ini color & length for you to play. The patterns are pretty standard for guitar playing, drumming, bass playing (with the same controller as the guitar, but they only give one controller). The singing aspect shows the words, along with a relative pitch level of the note.

For a professional musician, this game is really quite challenging. I have a sophisticated sense of rhythm - it's kind of what I do, you know? I have had quite a bit of difficulty playing some of the songs on each instrument because of the rhythmic differences I have with the machine. The songs are not metronome-accurate - they are as accurate as the actual performers are. This is pretty good, but not quite as accurate as I'm used to playing. This has meant that some of the fast passages have been almost impossible for me to play - I'm dropping notes, or - weirder - the notes would just disappear and not register with the machine.

Plus, the game requires the "musician" to play on the VERY front end of the beat. This is hard for me, as I'm a back-of-the-beat kind of guy - comes from playing with many different conductors over the years. I have a tendency to be late on notes unless I'm careful, and once I start really listening to the music, I'm dead.

My wife will actually play this game with me, on occasion. She's quite good at the bass stuff, and good at the guitar stuff. She's a better singer than I, so that helps - although she was the one who figured out that you really need volume while you're singing in order to score the most points.

This game is an awful lot of fun. It's also appropriate for most age levels. I'm not a big believer that rock music - no matter the lyrics - is inappropriate for kids to listen to, within reason. Nothing in the game is obscene, and the rest of it is a lot of fun. I've finished, to date, 61 of 61 songs (I downloaded three songs from the Playstation network) on guitar and 37 of 61 on drums. I heartily recommend this to anyone who's a music fan and has a few extra bucks lying around.

1 comment:

Paul D. Keiser said...

Go on, rub it in.

I'll just sit here playing Banjo Kazooie on my N64...