So the Guitar Hero v Rock Band war continues on with each firing a new version into the world vying for our attention, and by attention I mean money. Guitar Hero's latest is called Warriors of Rock. While Rock Band's release is simply called Rock Band 3. What seems to be the issue, and this is true of every sequel, is how do you improve on something that is good without making it awful. I like to call it the "George Lucas effect" Let's talk about Warriors first.
Now I'm an old school Guitar Hero fan. I've owned every version of GH from 1 through 4. Yes I know that technically 4 was called World Tour, but if you want to get technical about it 4 should have been called 5 because they released Rock of the 80's as a separate game after 2, but who cares. The confusing number system aside, I have played every single Xbox 360 version of a GH game. From Van Halen to Aerosmith, and even the "family friendly" Band Hero, I've played them all. And most of the time I've found them very enjoyable. So, what does GH's latest bring new to the party? Not a whole lot.
Warriors continues GH's system of the rythum game that got us all addicted in the first place. Nothing new as far in the system that has been in use since RB 4. The 93 new songs on the list have a good variety with a couple that are a lot of fun, heck yeah Dethklok. The problem with this game is the nuance. There is none. Oh yeah, how can I forget the new and improved Story Mode? A music game with it's biggest improvement is a story mode? Really? That's your big pull? Not your song listing. Definitely not your new plastic guitar with the interchangeable body. Your not teaching people to play it for real. No, you got the old guy from Kiss to read your story mode....awesome.
And then there is Rock Band 3. So a group of my friends gathered at my house last night to give this game it's first run through. It seemed all had a great time, especially the drummers of the group. Now I first have to tell you that I don't own any of the standard drum sets, I have the Ion Rock Drummer with three cymbals. If you haven't had a chance to see this monster, take a look. We've been playing around with this set for about 2 years now, but for the first time, I feel like it's really been worth it with the introduction of Pro Mode.
Pro Mode is RB3's biggest improvement to their line. The idea is that RB3 wants to get past the idea of just playing random colors on a fake plastic instrument, but they want you to really learn the song. Not only do you have the traditional difficulty settings, but with each setting you can also turn on Pro Mode. For the drums this means that if you have cymbals with your home set, the game will change. Now you will be prompted to hit the cymbal on your set with a cymbal picture and color on the track. No longer will you be able to choose between either hitting the pad or the cymbal, the game demands the option. This gives a greater sense of realism, especially if you have all three cymbals. The Pro Mode for the other instruments have yet to be explored by me as I refused to buy another plastic instrument. Instead I will wait for the plug in MIDI converter for my real keyboard and the real guitar from Fender. That's right, real instruments will soon work in a video game.
The over improvements to RB3 are too many to number in this meager blog post, but they include the keyboard as an instrument, all the DLC from previous games, challenges in tour mode, 3 part vocal harmonies a la The Beatles, volume control for each track both as an input and output, etc etc etc.
What it comes down to is this. If you like the guitar band rhythm games, you will enjoy playing both. My recommendation is renting the latest Guitar Hero and straight up buying Rock Band 3. I have to go now and practice my meetally-mees. But tell me what you think.
Chris and I recently travelled to Indianapolis to attend the nation's largest gaming convention, Gen Con. We got to see first hand how many activities there are to do for all 30,000 attendees.
Special thanks to Fletch for the awesome music.
After playing Green Day Rock Band last night, I was thinking about the current status of video game, while icing my hand due to my severe case of Conjunctive Shreditis. Are games like Rock Band, and Guitar Hero, losing interest by the players? Or is the market just a little too flooded with (insert band name) Rock Band or Guitar Hero (the band)?
The first week sales numbers say a lot about how entertainment like movies, music, and even video games sell over their life cycle, there are a few exceptions, but it's a pretty consistent trend. For Green Day Rock Band, for the X-Box 360, totaled a little over 71,500 units sold. I looked at the 360 numbers because that's the game that I own. Compare this to when Rock Band 2 was released on September of 08 to a first week sales of 350,000, or even compare it to when The Beatles: Rock Band was release September of 09 to a first week sales of 270,000. While the Guitar Hero franchise had three different music group releases: June of 08's Aerosmith (this first of the independent band games) sold 175,000, March of 09's Metallica at 225,000, and the December of 09 flop that is Van Halen at 21,000. Am I comparing apples to oranges here? Should Green Day have had its own Rock Band?
Now that the numbers are done, let me say that I LOVE these rock fake plastic squeaky toy rhythm games. I like them for a lot of different reasons.
- The social aspect of playing with your friends like you are actually performing is a real good time, especially when you play some of the more difficult songs and are able to power through them. I am a social gamer. The only games that I have purchased have this multiplayer aspect to them. Does this make me less of a hard core gamer? Say that to me when I'm cooking your face off in TF2.
- I am a fan of music in general, and the variety of bands, songs, and musical styles are nice and wide. If you and your chosen team want to rock out to some Foo Fighters, you can do that. If you would prefer to melt faces with Pantera, you can certainly try. You can even pretend to be twelve and play some Nickelback, although I don't personally recommend it.
- It's all about the instant gratification. Way, way, way back in time, I used to play drums. If I tried it now I would look like a cross of Animal and Rainman. The fun part of these games is that I can instantly get that feeling that I can really play these awesome songs. I've even "performed" on a real stage in front of tens of people. Thank you Passageways for making my fake rock dreams come true.
This year's E3 coverage didn't help my cause. It seemed that the industry is now more concerned with the perfect 1st person shooter or what technology is cooler. Is it HD, 3d, motion controllers, hand helds, or a combination of all 4 that is really going to control the game market? It is looking that my beloved Guitar Band type games are losing steam. I am hoping that the release of Rock Band 3 is going to be giving a kick to the interest.
While the details are still a bit fuzzy, Rock Band 3 is going to be adding an interesting new feature, Pro Mode. The idea is that the game is going to teach a Pro Mode player to actually play the song on a real instrument. Play Pro Mode on fake guitar, you will be learning the real cords and progression so when you pick up a real guitar, such as the awesome Esteban Crystal Heart (as the picture shows), you should be able to play the song. It sounds really good, in theory. I'm really curious how the execution goes. The preview shows that the new guitar peripherals are stringed, which is kind of important to the learning on a real guitar. I just bought a new fake guitar, but it looks like I'm going to be buying another one.
Another new addition is keyboards. Now I'm not that into playing the keyboard, but I know some of my friends that are excited about this idea. Plus instead of playing the guitar during the keyboard part in some songs, that's right I'm talking to you NiN, you can opt to play keyboard. Which is fine. Not a selling point for me, but I could see how others might dig it.
I really enjoy rockin out with my friends on these games and I hope that the latest Rock Band 3 will continue that enjoyment. I only worry that some nuances may be over promised and lead to the game not being as fun anymore. I guess I will have to wait until the posted "Holiday Season" to get my arthritic hands on it.
I had a chance to go to Wootstock 2.0 in Chicago last weekend. Check out the video to see just a segment of what I got to witness.
If you have trouble seeing the video, click here
Nathan talks with Christopher about the Twitter Developer conference called Chirp.