Avid fans jam to Rock Band

The video game Rock Band debuted in November of 2007. In the most contentious year of gaming thus far, the game still proved to be popular and successful. While the game came out only a month after its competitor Guitar Hero III, many fans adopted Rock Band in favor of the former.

Harmonix Music Systems developed both the Rock Band game and the peripherals for the game, unlike Guitar Hero. Harmonix developed the first three Guitar Hero games while RedOctane provided the peripherals. However, in 2006 Activision, Inc. purchased RedOctane and MTV Networks bought Harmonix. Consequently, Guitar Hero III was developed by Neversoft instead of Harmonix.

The changes in ownerships of these developers turned out for the better for gamers as a variety of games are now available.

Most people know about the hype behind Guitar Hero, but Rock Band usurped the fan base behind RedOctane’s hit.

The premise of Rock Band is similar to Guitar Hero: the gamer must use a music simulating controller to recreate music as originally intended. While the game’s purpose is not to educate the player, the game still encourages the player to feel the rush of a performance. Rock Band, however, is more extensive as it includes room for up to four band members that play the standard band roles (vocals, guitar, bass and drums).

Guitar Hero games are challenging, and most would agree that they are more difficult than Rock Band, by comparison of guitar mode. For all the prestige in finishing “Free Bird” on Guitar Hero II, a player can play a song much easier on Rock Band yet still have a more enjoyable experience. In this regard Rock Band surpasses any other game in the music genre for gaming.

The most notable feature of Rock Band, and the basis for its many awards and accolades, is its immersive multiplayer experience. The ability to bring four gamers together on a single console and actually to start a Rock Band is a revolutionary experience conceivable only on next-generation platforms.

While solo mode is plenty enjoyable with the variety of instruments available for use, Rock Band’s sweet spot will always be in its local multiplayer value. Like solo mode, the band starts off with few possessions and is not very customizable in terms of the variety of clothes and accessories, including instruments, for the individual band members. While the band plays different setlists at different venues, it earns more fans and more money, as well as forms of transportation, from a beat-up van to a private jetliner.

As fun as the multiplayer Band World Tour mode is, one of Rock Band’s criticisms is its lack of online play in the Band World Tour. Nonetheless, the World Tour mode is sure to keep players busy with their friends. Even beginners at the game will come to enjoy the variety of instruments to play and the general feel of the game.

One of the reasons the experience of performing is so real is because of the setlist in the game. From songs like “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet to “I’m So Sick” by Flyleaf, there occurs an epic sense when the player enters a guitar solo and rocks out like a professional. Guitar Hero games rarely encompassed this sensation.

Instead, those games tended to command the player to mash buttons when told. Rock Band, on the other hand, makes the player feel as if though he or she is really making the music. This feeling occurs most intensely when a group of four friends are “performing” together. Even if someone cannot really sing or a person has issues with keeping beat, everyone somehow can feel at home on any instrument.

Such a fun and addictive local multiplayer experience has not occurred since the days of Mario Party and Super Smash Bros. Even games on the Wii have yet to provide both the fun and skill involved in Rock Band.

While the game may seem infallible, a few problems do arise. The first problem is cost. The special edition of Rock Band includes the new Fender Stratocaster controller, a microphone and a simulator drum set, as well as the game.

The Playstation 2 and 3 versions of the game include wireless accessories while the Xbox 360 is wired, but the 360 and PS2 both have powered four port USB hubs. These things sound like a lot, and they are—the grand total for Rock Band Special Edition on the 360 and PS3 is approximately $170.

Gamers can still save money if they only want to play the game for guitar and/or bass. The game, like almost all new games on the next-gen consoles, is $60 and works with all Guitar Hero controllers not including the Guitar Hero III Les Paul controllers. If someone wants drums, that person will have to buy the special edition or wait until the end of January for the standalone peripherals to come out.

While the cost may seem too high, the replay value for the game more than makes up for the cost. It is worth it for a group of friends to split the cost and share the enjoyment of playing a masterpiece game of 2007, a contender for Game of the Year in many magazines, blogs and websites, and an immersive, addictive and fun alternative music game for almost anyone.

Hailed as “one of the best party games of all time” by Gamespot, Rock Band is worth every bit of the hype that surrounds it.