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Wednesday | December 7, 2016
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Rock Band (X360 – UK)

Rock Band (X360 – UK)


USA readers will be amazed it has taken an additional six months for Harmonix’s follow up to Guitar Hero to reach UK shores. For those of you who have been living in isolation for the last year Rock Band is Guitar Hero taken to the extreme with not only guitar support, but a drum kit and microphone thrown into the mix. Finally you can game with three friends to create a full four piece band experience.

Rock Band is primarily a multiplayer game. In single player mode Rock Band will undoubtedly end up being “Guitar Hero IV” or even “Drum Hero”. Single player is still extremely fun (if nothing revolutionary), however once you are joined by a few like-minded friends for World Tour mode then the game steps up a notch.

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Let’s be honest, almost everyone reading this would love to be in a world dominating group and Rock Band gives us all the opportunity to live out this dream, especially considering the quality of the default songs. This is the strong point of Rock Band, bringing a believable experience to every player with the superb presentation and overall attention to detail.

This is a prime example of how Rock Band raises the bar when compared with Guitar Hero, it is clear that a lot of time was spent in the creation of the authentic game feel as well as the ultimate presentation. The Create-A-Rocker options for example are superlative, the Rock Shop is crammed with amusing clothes, make-up and even a tattoo creator which gives the end user almost limitless possibilities to create a unique appearance for your own rock star. Many of the tattoo’s end up creative works of art and it certainly adds to the overall environmental immersiveness.

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Band World Tour as I mentioned briefly earlier is one of the highlights and it provides a rather fresh angle on the adventures of gigging. You take your band from the hometown city out to an ever expanding array of venues which earns you roadies and fans along the way. Again the presentation is top notch and contains just the right amount of tongue in cheek humour to add to the experience rather than merely detract from it.

Obviously, long term followers of Harmonix will remember FreQuency and Amplitude which were some of the first musical ‘time matching’ games and the years of development and fine tuning have clearly made their way into Rock Band on a primal coding level. Make no mistakes, there are no errors with the gameplay aspects and each instrument has been carefully playtested from the roots level across the variety of difficulty modes to ensure that regardless of your instrument of choice the game remains fun, challenging and entertaining.

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The Multiplayer mode in Rock Band is vastly more rewarding than the Guitar Hero series as you are actually playing alongside other people in a band environment. This is my biggest failing with Guitar Hero, the lack of indepth multiplayer interaction, as well as the ludicrous difficulty on expert level which required you to have the combined dexterity of Ynqwie Malmsteen and Steve Vai.

The difficulty curve with Rock Band is much more intuitive and realistic with all abilities being catered for from Easy to Expert. That said there will be a small percentage of Guitar Hero III demigods who will find even the most difficult guitar setting in Rock Band simplistic.

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This leads me rather uncomfortably to the price of £180. Yes £180 (around $350 with the current exchange rate). This is simply ludicrous and just leaves a sour taste in the mouths of the UK gamers I have spoken with. Quite how they can justify the price difference between US and UK markets is beyond me. That said, some UK online stores (such as play.com) are selling the game and instruments for £145 all in – still a lot of money but the £35 saved makes it slightly more appealing.

This is also slightly confusing – with the instruments being bundled without the game I can’t help but feel that many people will have the box home only to realise they are missing the game disc! Other options include the ability to use your Guitar Hero 3 instrument (minus the top 5 ‘solo’ buttons of course) and then to purchase the drum kit separately with the game. Bizarrely you can’t purchase the microphone so you need to shell out for the full instrument pack to get it! Alternatively you can use your Xbox Live Headset for the vocals if you don’t mind looking like a complete dweeb.

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If you couple the pricing issues with the bundling problems then it certainly becomes more difficult to recommend, even though the game is brilliant. It really is a sad state of affairs to be focusing on such huge deal breaking issues around the UK launch particularly with a 6 month hiatus between the original USA version.

EA and Harmonix have attempted to sweeten the deal with nine free songs supplied with the European package; two French, three German and five English tracks.  Adding more songs for Europe is a great idea, however I personally would rather have had a £120-130 retail price especially when a few of these foreign language songs occasionally end up rearing their ugly head in random Mystery Sets giving English singers problems.

Rock Band is an Xbox 360 classic and has received much well deserved critical acclaim throughout the last 6 months when it hit the US shores. It leads the class and is the only game available which successfully captures playing in a full band environment with a bunch of friends. All in all the game comes highly recommended however with a full UK retail price of £180 it will surely only sell to people with deeper wallets and considerable amounts of spare cash. After all you can buy an Xbox 360 console in the UK for around the same price as this game.

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If you can manage to pick up the full retail package of instruments and game for around the £140-150 pricepoint then it becomes a more tempting prospect.

Gameplay
93/100
One of the best multiplayer games currently available.
Graphics

87/100

Very nicely rendered and much more appealing than the Guitar Hero counterparts.
Sound
100/100
As good a soundtrack as you will get and already a bunch of downloadable content available from Xbox Live.
Value
80/100
Compared to the US version the £180 retail price is extremely steep, however with deals already £40 less keep your eyes peeled for some upcoming bargains.
Overall
(Not an Average)
88/100
A classic title only ruined by haphazard UK bundles and a hefty price tag.

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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