Bargain Bin Gaming- Episode 26: Rock Band

rock-band-cover-croppedFor years, games like “Frequency,” “Taiko Drum Master,” “Guitar Hero” and “Karaoke Revolution” were stalwarts in the rhythm/music genre that turned the average Joe into everything from a fret-burning madman or a future American Idol. However, despite the brevity and deep gameplay options those games had, gamers were always left with one question: when will everything be put together in one package? Finally, that question has an answer: “Rock Band.” However, despite the fact that the game is arguably the epitome of what a music and party game should be, there are noticeable little problems that take away from the overall fun.

For instance, while the game’s single player mode has various levels of difficulty, the multiplayer mode, or Band World Tour doesn’t and forces novice gamers to turn up the difficulty to advance in the game. While a series like “Guitar Hero” is known for its extreme and sometimes punishing difficulty, the purpose of “Rock Band” is obviously to get a bunch of gamers in one room for some casual gaming. By forcing gamers to raise the difficulty level in order to advance, the game almost alienates the casual gamer that just wants to enjoy the game with friends. Despite this however, anyone comfortable with playing games like “Guitar Hero” or “Karaoke Revolution” on the hardest difficulty shouldn’t have a problem advancing in the game.

Despite that, the biggest problem with the World Tour Mode is its rigidness. Once a band is formed, the band leader has to play the instrument they started the band with, while the other members of the band are free to create other characters on the same gamertag and play other instruments. What this does is force one gamer to play through the extremely long mode using the same instrument. Why EA would do something like that is shocking and has taken away from an otherwise strong gameplay mode.

However, aside from that, the biggest problem the game has is its uneven difficulty. For instance, the guitar portion of the game is extremely easy up until the highest difficulty setting and the bass portion of the game is an entire breeze. However, the singing portion of the game could be a disaster for anyone that’s never sang before and the drumming portion is insane. Having a few people in your camp that actually know how to sing or play the drums is a definite must for anyone serious about beating this game. Sure, novices can still play through the multiplayer part of the game on easy, but don’t think for one second about finishing the game.

With that being said, “Rock Band” really caters specifically to the “Guitar Hero” fan who wanted something different. The gameplay while using every instrument has an extremely similar feel to GH and has a luster and polish only a small amount of multiplayer titles can claim as their own. Scoring unison bonuses with a bunch of friends in multiplayer is an absolute blast and the feel of the instruments is spot on. Despite the feeling from many players that the guitar prepackaged with the game isn’t as solid as the wireless one prepackaged in “Guitar Hero III” [which is absolutely true], it is still a more than functional peripheral that gets the job done. The drum set and microphone are also extremely solid and do a great job of making the gamer feel like their actually performing.

With all the positives in this game, it’s easy to forget about the uneven difficulty and the small problems with the multiplayer modes. Despite those problems, “Rock Band” is still a must-own title for any wannabe musician that has dreamed of being under the spotlight. It’s just not perfect.

About Patrick Hickey Jr. 12433 Articles
Patrick Hickey Jr. is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief, Master Jedi and Grand Pooh-bah of and is the author of the book, "The Minds Behind the Games: Interviews with Cult and Classic Video Game Developers," from leading academic and non-fiction publisher McFarland and Company. He is currently the Assistant Director of the Journalism Program at Kingsborough Community College and is a former News Editor at NBC Local Integrated Media and a National Video Games Writer at the late He has also had articles and photos published in The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Complex and The Syracuse Post-Standard. Love him. Read him.

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