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Written by Thomas "CigDangle" Balistreri   
Thursday, 13 September 2007

[News] [PS3] [X360]

The Rock Band Tour is in full swing, and I was fortunate enough to have the tour stop in my town, Milwaukee, WI.  For a few hours this morning, I, along with several University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students, got to play Rock Band.


100_0350 The tour, traveling with a van pulling a 30 foot trailer, will stop in 26 cities to show off its wares.  Sponsored by Harmonix, MTV Games, EA, Fender, Xbox 360, MTV, VH1, and CMT, the tour is financially set.  On hand at the stop in Milwaukee, were representatives from MTV to shoot film for the Rock Band auditions, where gamers compete for a chance to appear on MTV’s TRL.  According to the original press release, “Two bands will participate in a live competition with the top group being asked to open for one of rock’s biggest bands at the Rock Band launch concert this Holiday 2007.”

The buzz from the 'roadies' -  AC/DC is the 'big band' in question.

100_0346 As for the game itself, I played for about ninety minutes, trying out a variety of songs.  The tour is traveling with a 'set list' of approximately 15 songs, including: “Epic” by Faith No More and “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden.  I sat in the trailer and tried out guitar and drums on “Dani California” by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and “Say It Ain’t So” by Weezer.

On an elementary level, the game is identical to Guitar Hero.  Five notes, in the familiar green, red, yellow, blue, and orange, are all in their usual positions, but the multiplier now goes to '6X.'  I couldn’t figure out how the 'Star Power' equivalent was earned, but activating it was similar, in that you had to tilt the guitar.  In a departure from its 'conceptual forefather', the crowd in Rock Band is much more interactive, singing along when your band is doing well.

100_0349 There are four levels of difficulty, just like Guitar Hero, although I did notice Rock Band seems to be much pickier about precision.  If I was not exact in my strumming, I could easily miss a note or two.  The Fender Stratocaster guitars are quite cool; they seem to be longer, which was nice as the Guitar Hero versions have always felt too small to me, but the neck was flimsier than the guitar released with either version of Guitar Hero.  As the rumor mill has hinted at, the Stratocaster 5-way switch is present, and it works, giving you a different tone at each position.

Solos are a very cool new feature.  Every note on the screen appears as if its being played and the players are allowed to play any notes, as many as you can possibly play during a 'solo.' Nearly every song I played ended with a 'free-for-all' solo, although the points gathered weren’t added to my score unless I hit the last few notes that follow the 'closing solo.'

100_0351Drumming was not too difficult, although I stuck to playing on “Easy”.  All four pads and the pedal are utilized, even at this difficulty level.  It took me a minute to recall what I had read regarding the bass pedal namely that the orange line across the “notes area” was the “bass pedal indicator”.  I do not have much rhythm, but the songs were fairly simple.

While at the event, I was convinced to “audition”.  I played drums with two other guys who played guitar and bass.  They had driven two hours from Green Bay, WI to experience the game.  I decided I would let them choose which song we would play for our audition as “Love Fist” (our band name).  They chose “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, a song I do enjoy, but if you know who Neil Pert is or are familiar with his work, you already realize how difficult it was.  I finished with 66% on “Easy” after being saved twice. 'Saves' allow you to 'bring back' a band member whose game ends because they 'failed' the song.  'Saves' are enacted by another band member using their 'Star Power.'  Regardless, my playing was quite sad considering when I was practicing, playing “Dani California” and “Say It Ain’t So”, I was in the 75%-85% range.

Since the crowd was minimal this early in the morning, we played an “encore”.  We chose “Black Hole Sun”.  I switched to bass, with one of the tour “roadies” playing drums, and our former bassist singing.  Although I shied away from it, our bassist had an easy time singing.  There were times when he wasn’t quite “on key”, but he finished in 80-90% range.  Our last song was “Vaseline” by Stone Temple Pilots.  I switched to lead guitar, and the singer and bassist switched, while the roadie sat this one out.  While you sing, the recorded vocal track plays, so it  is much like singing along to your favortie song.  And you wouldn’t know it by the way he looks, but this guy was born to sing (at least in Rock Band).  Even though I finished with a 96% on medium, he had no problem beating everyone’s score.

100_0353 All in all, I had a blast, and am really looking forward to playing the game with a full catalog.  I will definitely be purchasing the “Special Edition” which includes the game, drums, guitar and microphone.  The Xbox 360 version comes with all wired instruments, but I did notice something analogous to a USB hub with a Rock Band logo on it connecting all the instruments to the console.  According to Wikipedia, this will be included with the Xbox 360 Special Edition.

Now I just need to decide which platform I want to use.

Readers have left 3 comments.
 1. Untitled
El Ziltcho, Registered
Awww yyaaa, This game I think is going to be very big on X Box Live. I looking forward to now more than ever!!! Thanks Tom for being our drummer!! Love Fist I think i liked singing the most cus i was good at it and it was cool. Thanks again for the kind words=)
 Posted 2007-09-14 15:46:31
 2. Untitled
Mada1337, Registered
This game will be the shizznight. This game ups the ante with it's rival GH3. The addition of a mic and the drums is astounding! The difference in gaming between the two is equivalent from going from a tricycle to a motorcycle. My brother and I drove down from Green Bay just to play and it was well worth the drive. One of the coolest features is the ability to rock out with your friends over Xbox Live. As fun as it is to get a party of friends together at your house to jam, the ability to play with other people over the net at any time adds an almost infinite amount of replay value. After playing RockBand and seeing what the new features are for GH3, GH3 is in some trouble. Rock Band is the future of music games. Props to Tom to rocking out with us to from Love Fist. Watch out Led Zeppelin.
 Posted 2007-09-14 16:27:59
 3. Untitled
TurboGoat, Manager
Why didn't you invite me?! I would have brought my lighter...and I don't even smoke!
 Posted 2007-09-17 09:55:43
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