My copy of Rock
arrived yesterday and it well and truly does rock. The thing I was
excited for was the drum kit; I’ve always fancied myself a drummer, and
I finally get to test that out.
Turns out, I’m not all that bad.
A breakdown by instrument…
**I’ve played my fair share of *Guitar Hero
and Guitar Hero
so I knew what to expect out of the guitar experience. You can play
lead or bass, your choice. The actual playing experience with the
guitar is roughly the same, so I won’t go too far into it. That said, I
did notice the difficulty level was significantly lower than GH3, and
possibly slightly lower than GH2. That’s not a bad thing - it just
makes you feel cooler.
I can’t say much about the controller it ships with, though, because
mine arrived broken (the directional pad on it is stuck so it constantly
thinks the “down” arrow is being pushed - throws a wrench in the works,
let me tell you). Fortunately their support is really good and you can
very quickly get an RMA and a replacement through their automated online
system - no need for massive escalation or trouble. Ordered my
replacement this morning.
**I haven’t played
but I gather the vocals portion here is the same as that. It’s a little
harder than I expected and it does require you to really know the words
and the tune - including all the little fluctuations the singer makes
while singing. In some cases you can get by with volume over accuracy
(which isn’t far from real life, right?) but generally you do need to
know the song pretty well.
For example, I sing along to Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” in the
car, but it turns out I really only know about half the song… and
thinking back, I do sort of hum my way through a lot in the car. That
said, I was able to get 100% (on Easy level) for The Clash song “Should
I Stay Or Should I Go?” So it’s not impossible, just sort of hard.
During musical solos, you can tap the mic in time with some “beats” that
appear and play the tambourine. This sort of reminds me of the clapping
that you have to do in Donkey
This is what I was waiting for. It’s a heck of a setup and isn’t
sitting in your living room, but it’s hella fun. There are “notes” on
the screen for hitting each of the four drum pads (just like Guitar
Hero) and the kick drum is signified by a hard line that crosses all of
the four note positions at once. It takes a little getting used to, but
once you figure it out, you’re in. I’m working through Easy difficulty
right now because I tried Medium and… well, there’s too much going on
and I haven’t quite got drums down yet.
In some cases, though, I can’t figure out whether my drum controller
is faulty or if I’m just a sucky drummer. I swear I hit the right pad
at the right time, it just says I didn’t. Other times, everything’s
fine. I can get like 98% in some cases, I just miss a couple. I would
think if the controller was faulty it would be… more predictable.
Again, the 60 day warranty might be good here. Drums are definitely
less forgiving than the guitar - with the guitar, you can “pretty much”
get the note and it’ll count it; with drums, you either get it dead on
or you don’t get credit. I think that’s more likely what I’m running
That said, I really hope someone comes out with some after-market drums
for this game. I like the drums, but I’d like some of it to be a little
more adjustable. I’m 6’2” and I feel sort of cramped by the kit due to
the placement of the kick drum pedal. Maybe I just need to try some
**The game itself is pretty good. Far better set list than *Guitar Hero
3 had. I also really like the way the campaign is set up as a “world
tour” where you start in small venues and gather money and fans - it
feels more tangible than the arbitrary progression you get in Guitar
Hero. You also have a really nice character creation system that allows
you to personalize your character including face, hair, clothes… very
cool. There were only three points of confusion I had:
Point of Confusion 1: Bands are attached to an Xbox Live profile
and to a Rock Band character. When you create a band, the person
who’s creating the band gets the band saved to their Xbox Live profile.
Further, as you select (or create) your character in the band, that
specific character has to play in the band for the entire life of the
band - they’re the band leader. This is very important because…
Point of Confusion 2: Characters can’t change instruments. Once
you create a character for a particular instrument (guitar/drums/mic),
they can’t switch. Jenn and I created a band where I was playing drums
and she was playing guitar. She wanted to try the drums out, so we
tried to get it so her character was playing drums and mine was on
guitar. No dice - both of us were only allowed to create new
characters. And since my profile was the one with the band leader, and
the band leader was playing drums, we either had to play under the other
person’s profile or create a new band. We created a new band. (The
third option, really, was to back out and do a “quick play” where you
can form a band impromptu with anyone playing any instrument - no leader
Point of Confusion 3: Once the instruments are attached to the Xbox
360, you can’t change their position. So, say I attach the
instruments and the drums are player 1, the guitar is player 2, and the
mic is player 3. By default, my console signs me in when it turns on,
so I’m signed in as player 1 and I’m stuck on drums. The easy way to
fix this - connect all of the controllers to the Xbox, turn it on, and
sign everyone out. Everyone pick up the control they want to play with
and sign in from there. During the game if you want to change
instruments, you can sign out and sign back in without exiting the game,
so just do that - sign out on your current instrument and sign in on the
one you want to switch to. It sounds like a no-brainer when I say it
here, but trust me, this was a huge problem for us to figure out.
Again, by-and-large, it’s an awesome game. I’m also super happy [so
far] with the ease of customer support.
Hey, since I’ve got the day off, I should probably go do a little
rockin’ right now.