Thoughts and Impressions on Harmonix's Rock Band for the Wii ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Monday, June 30, 2008

Thoughts and Impressions on Harmonix's Rock Band for the Wii

Thoughts and Impressions on Harmonix's Rock Band for the WiiI was a heavy videogamer growing up but it has only been the last few years that I have been getting back into gaming. I have had a PS2 for about two years and got Guitar Hero III for my birthday this past January. Guitar Hero was the end-all, be-all for a few month...until I mastered the songs. The game loses some of its novelty when the only challenge is ensuring that I can still hit 100% of the notes on the same core 42 songs. Unfortunately, the majority of the bonus songs don't hold my attention as I have never heard of most of the bands (Nast, Gallows, LA Slum Lords, etc.) While I still play the game every now and then, Cars: Mater-National (I have a 4 year old) has taken over the PS2.

I got invited to try Rock Band for the Wii a few weeks ago (the Wii version was released earlier this month) and it was honestly head-and-shoulders above Guitar Hero. Admittedly, the the Wii is a nicer machine than the PS2 (512MB of RAM vs 32 MB, for starters) but I was really impressed with Rock Band's game play. Rock Band allows you to pick from vocals (which are scored based on vocal pitch), bass guitar, lead guitar and drums. Difficulty levels can be set for each individual instrument. I went for the guitar and Rock Band's Fender Stratocaster replica felt more like a real guitar and less like a toy. Compared to the Guitar Hero guitar, the buttons are part of the fret rather than raised above the fret and there is also an effects switch that allows the user the ability to toggle effects like flange, echo, etc.

Anyway...aside for listening to my younger brother attempt to sing, it was a really cool experience. I didn't get a chance to try the drums but I liked watching the action on them - I was told that the Rock Band drum kit is designed to simulate the movements of a real drummer and it is especially cool that the drummer has the opportunity to play some free-form fills as part of a song.

The soundtrack on the initial disc seemed a bit more diverse than the Guitar Hero soundtrack (I'm to the point where I can't stand to be in the room if someone is playing "Slow Ride" on Guitar Hero). The disc that we were playing had tracks that ranged from classic rock (Deep Purple and Blue Oyster Cult) to modern rock (Foo Fighters and The Clash). I have been intrigued by reading that one can now buy full albums to play on Rock Band. The initial albums have ranged from The Pixies (Dolittle, of course) to Judas Priest (Screaming for Vengeance).

Rock Band is certainly a major step forward in video gaming.

Rock Band Official Website