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Rock Band impressions and unpackaging

By dcacho
Sunday, November 18th, 2007 at 4:12 pm in Gieson Cacho.

The magic fairy of rock worked some of her magic Saturday, and lo and behold, we had a copy of “Rock Band” delivered to our office door. After sequealing with delight and acting like the Nintendo 64 kid, I ripped open the package and took out the three pieces to the band kit: the Fender guitar, the drums and the microphone.

I followed the IKEA-like instructions and put together the drum kit (difficult) and guitar (easy). For photos of the unpackaging, hit the jump.

Rock Band drums
Drum kit in all its glory

Rock Band Fender
Fender guitar

Rock Band instructions
Instructions done by IKEA?

“Rock Band” itself is pretty refined. I wouldn’t call it the true sequel to “Guitar Hero 2” because it’s a totally different animal. Once you start to play, you’ll have to create your own rocker, and as you gain money from gigs, you’ll have the chance to customize his clothing, hair, piercings and tattoos.

As you progress and open more songs, you travel to different cities and play new songs. The lists aren’t static; they seem to change, depending on the instrument. You’ll also play some of the same songs from venue to venue.

This is all fine and good, but the real fun comes in playing with others. I started a band with my girlfriend, and we started to take on the world tour mode, which seems to be the heart of the game.

Similar to the solo mode, the multiplayer world tour lets you travel to different cities, but this time, there are plenty of different venues for each city. Rock out with five stars and you start gaining fans.

Our band, The Terrierists, quickly gained a following, but as switched off on who got to play the drums, we found something out. Once you form a band, the instrument you start with is cemented. You can’t switch of instruments if you wanted. My girlfriend always played drums, and I always played guitar.

This was a problem because she hated drums. (Apparently, we aren’t anything like Jack and Meg White.) And we wanted to switch. Well, I didn’t want to play as her and she didn’t want to play as me. So we created band No. 2, Terrieristas! (Yeah, I know how original) and started over from gig No. 1.

As your band’s fandom grows, you gain more money for each performance. There are even special situational gigs such as charities, where you earn special bonuses. Eventually, you’ll win some vehicles and this opens up venues across more cities until finally you’re a jet setter traveling across the globe.

In addition, it’s good to note that failing actually has consequences in the game. Do poorly, and you’ll lose thousands of fans, so it’s best not to mess up.

The overall feel of the game is classic “Guitar Hero” with a few twists. It’s still the same rhythm gameplay, but Overdrive (aka Star Power) helps the band if one member starts failing. In addition, there are new bonsuses for a solo riff or ending jam.

We didn’t try the karaoke part because we both sound like “American Idol” contestant Sanjaya Malakar.

The disappointing things about the game were pretty trivial and weren’t gameplay related. I didn’t like the short cord on the USB adapter. Players may need an extension cord, or they’ll have to move around the furniture a bit for a four-player jam session. The guitar itself scratches a bit easy, so take care of it right out of the box.

And for those of you who like the “Guitar Hero” axes, good news, it works with game.

We’ll be playing more “Rock Band” this week and write up a feature in the coming days. But from the first couple of hours, I have to say that “Rock Band” is sounding like a winner if you can afford the $160 price tag (PS2 edition). The experience is deeper than the competition, and with new instruments to master, this may be a game that will keep you rocking out for a while.

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