I had literally just finished saying to my girlfriend that I didn’t want Rock Band as it was too bulky for my living room when an advert for it came on the TV. At that precise moment a packet fell through my letter box with the game disc inside and a moment later I was booting it up happy that it would actually work with my Guitar Hero wireless Les Paul controller.
If you’re playing solo like I was – Rock Band is identical to Guitar Hero in the way it plays. You hit buttons on the fret board and strum in time to the blobs scrolling down the screen whilst your band plays to an enthusiastic crowd in the background. If you have a Rock Band guitar though, you get more buttons further up the neck to hammer out solos when it’s your turn to rock!
This time the game looks a lot grittier. Character models are less OTT and there’s a film grain over the whole thing to make the game more NME or Kerrang rather than Top of the Pops. I also like the way the crowd sings along – it feels like a proper gig – next there’ll be pints of lager being thrown you from the TV.
The game’s much easier than Guitar Hero – if you play that on hard mode you’ll have to crank it up to Expert. However, the song selection is great. There are 64 on the disc including favourites from Bowie, Nirvana, Oasis, Garbage and the Foo Fighters. Metallica have also made a big thing of putting Enter Sandman on there.
Of course, the game’s really about getting your mates round to play as a band. You can buy separately a full drum kick with sticks and a pedal, a microphone and another guitar for playing bass. Then you can rock out if you have a big enough lounge and unlock new tracks to play through. Unfortunately you need to be dedicated as you can only play songs you’ve unlocked playing as a group and not ones you’ve mastered when on your own.
Singing behaves like SingStar and as for the drums, I haven’t tried them myself but have seen them in action and it looks like people playing them are having lots of fun.
With better character customisation, downloadable content and the ability to live the rock and roll dream with your mates, this one’s a winner – although it is a considered purchase if you choose to go the whole hog and play as a full band. Rock Band gets a very good 8 out of 10.