Many gamers have yet to see past Rock Band’s clone roots with the Guitar Hero series. Despite the stigma that dogs it to this day, the series has managed to carve its own fan-base and establish itself as superior to GH in some ways. Whether you prefer the bands featured in the Guitar Hero spin-offs (Metallica, Aerosmith, Van Halen, etc) or those of the Rock Band series (The Beatles, Green Day, Lego, etc), this is a different fish altogether. We’re talking the latest RB main installment. The best approach being to not directly compare it to the competition- as this gives it a clean slate to assess it upon.
Starting things off, the game deserves credit for refining not only the presentation and options, but also the gameplay elements. Whereas previous titles always had a looseness that made it slightly unappealing in comparison to the Guitar Hero series, the latest Rock Band has tighter controls and more accurate button recognition. The character creation is much better this time around- very well developed and varied.
As always, the multiplayer in Rock Band is its forte. Rocking out to ‘The Beautiful People’ or ‘Get Up, Stand Up’ is much more enjoyable with friends to play with. The online options aren’t a huge step above previous entries in the series, but they’re certainly serviceable. The game is a lot fun if you have friends- though playing with random people isn’t particularly entertaining. Then again, the game’s really meant to be played with friends and family in your living room.
The latest instrument peripherals are a nice upgrade from the last edition. It’s worth noting that previous Rock Band accessories will work fine and you shouldn’t feel the need to replace them. The vocal recognition hasn’t made the technical jump that many gamers wish it would- leaving many a gamer disappointed to be the singing band member. The vocal gameplay isn’t awful- you’ll find too much room for error when singing songs like ‘Whip It’, ‘Midlife Crisis’, or ‘Plush’- really any song where its easy to recognize your mistaken words going unnoticed by the game.
The Wii and PS3 versions take the spotlight from the slightly unappealing Xbox 360 version. Free online play, a more responsive interface, and the much more friendly player base (especially on Wii) make these two versions shine where the 360 falters. The game stutters on the HD consoles- likely due to rushed efforts to in the cross-platform rush. The other benefit to the Wii version being the reduced price point for this admittedly expensive game to own.
The soundtrack is a bit hit or miss, but overall very appealing for the most part. There are some tracks that are very well suited for the game- ‘Smoke on the Water’ being a fantastic example, ‘Low Rider’ being another good example. Although the misses are easy to spot- ‘Get Free’ and ‘Space Oddity’. There’s something for everyone and will of course be made even better by the overpriced DLC.
For those wanting to give the Rock Band series a shot- you might want your first experience to be the original and RB 2- considering you can get the pair for the same price as the third. For anyone already in love with the series, go ahead and give Rock Band 3 a chance.