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Nega-review: Rock Band

Kyle Orland

"If you're looking for another game to whittle away the hours perfecting guitar parts by yourself, Rock Band likely won't live up to your expectations." (2) "Rock Band's singing and guitar campaigns aren't as developed ... as standalone games like SingStar or Guitar Hero." (8) The game "isn't great if you're playing by yourself. ... it's not nearly as compelling going through songs with a single instrument." (3) "There just isn't as big of a sense of accomplishment as you climb the ranks without all the little animations and feedback you got on Guitar Hero 3." (5) Yes, "the Solo Tours lack the animations and story elements of Guitar Hero's solo campaign, which make them slightly less interesting to play by yourself." (8) "Expect more than a few awkward silences if you're by yourself." (3) "Guitar Hero is better if you're playing alone." (5)

"The actual online play, honestly, isn't quite as crucial a component as you'd think." (3) "One omission is online cooperative play." (7) "For the full co-op career mode, you have to play offline. That's disappointing." (9) Yup, "you can't do co-op career online - a major disappointment." (1) That's right, "the Band World Tour mode is not available online, and that's a shame." (5) What's more, "you may hear some out-of-sync bleed through the headset ... and the singer's signal won't be transmitted due to lag: the other players will hear the pre-recorded vocal track." (1)

A "major problem [is] the smaller track lists when compared to Guitar Hero." (4) "There are only 45 licensed tracks, and not all of them are great songs. ... In fact "some of the songs in Rock Band just plain suck (Coheed and Cambria, seriously?)." (2) "You are going to see repeats often." (2) and "it's disappointing having to repeat songs so often along the way." (3) In one five-hour stretch, our band ... must have played Nirvana's 'In Bloom' six times. By the end, our love for Nirvana's classic had wilted." (2)

"Another element that might not immediately thrill people is the graphics." (1) No, "the visuals may not strike players right away". (7). "Harmonix has opted for a grainy visual style, bathing the slightly cartoony characters in intense stage lighting." (1) "I do wish there had been a little more focus on the overall package of graphics than the movements and lip-synching of the characters." (4) "GHIII has higher quality textures and models." (8)

"Rock Band doesn't offer the insanely intense ... challenge of Guitar Hero III." (2) No, "guitar and bass never approach the level of challenge set before them in Guitar Hero." (3) "You aren't getting songs with the craziest guitar solos" (8) and players "may be in for a shock when they find themselves lazily strumming chords or picking through simple arpeggios." (7) "Those who have been shredding and mastering the Guitar Hero games will find that these parts don't come close to offering the same challenge ... any expert won't be pressed hard with these note layouts." (2) "The note charts for Rock Band tend to be a little easier, and ... they just don't flow quite as well as the Guitar Hero games." (5) "In fact, if you are thinking about purchasing Rock Band solely for the guitar portion of the game you had better think twice -- Guitar Hero III is your game." (6)

Speaking of the guitar, "the Stratocaster guitar controller feels a bit like a toy." (1) "It will take some getting used to if you've played many hours on another controller [and] even after getting used to it the guitar never feels as good as the alternative -- especially on Xbox 360 where you're tethered down with a wire on the Fender model." (2) "It can be a little harder to slide from button to button on the Rock Band Fender" (5) and "one friend thought the strum bar was a complete deal-killer, and after a few hours of trying to get used to it, he shrugged and went back to the Guitar Hero guitar." (5)

Yep, "the strumming feels less solid than the Les Paul and the buttons aren't raised enough, which makes moving between them a bit more difficult." (8) What's more, "the Braille-like bumps on the middle button are too subtle, so it's hard to know where you are on the fretboard sometimes." (1) "The new switch to adjust the effects during solos in Rock Band is a ... gimmick" (2) and "we kept bumping the five-way effects switch accidentally." (1) "The new guitar controller feels foreign, with its soft-pressing, inset buttons - it's not the clicky, tactile stuff we're used to." (9) "For my money, I'll take the Guitar Hero III wireless Les Paul controller over the Rock Band guitar." (2)

The drums, for their part, are "not indestructible." (1) "During my play time, I had a pre-production foot pedal snap in half during a particularly driving session of Bon Jovi's Wanted Dead or Alive on expert. ... The kick pedal is surprisingly thin around the main pressure point in the middle where the spring meets the underside surface of the pedal itself. ... It definitely looks like the most vulnerable part of the entire drum set." (2) What's more, "the wire that connects the pedal to the drum set fits into the back of the drum pads, but it doesn't have a very good connection." (5) "Worries about the drum controller's durability remain." (6)

As for the drumming gameplay, "it's ... sometimes difficult to see the orange kick bar on the note scroll as soon as overdrive begins because it's accompanied by a glittery yellowish-orange splash on the screen, which somewhat conceals the orange of the kick note. Let me tell you, it really sucks to miss a note right at the beginning of your overdrive passage because it's difficult to see." (2) And "honestly, if you have any rhythm at all, the easy setting on the drums will frustrate you more than the hard setting. Feeling the vibes of the music on the easy setting will cause you to fail repeatedly ... you will find yourself struggling to find the rhythm." (4)

The "vocal game is more about accuracy than passion." (1) "The person holding the mic is not included in any of the unity sections; they are not key to any of the big endings that offer massive bonus points ... there's no question that the singer is not always on equal footing with the other players." (2) "You activate star power by singing through the colored sections, which is slightly on the annoying side; unlike the guitars, you can't activate your star power at any time." (5)

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends (the nitpicking): the Joystiq Nega-review. We've taken nine reviews worth of small complaints about Rock Band and compiled them into a review that makes the game look like the worst thing since Britney's Dance Beat. We do this, as always, not because we hate critically-praised games, but because we know no game is perfect and that the negatives can be hard to spot in largely positive reviews. (This time around, we're also offering 'sour grapes' solace to those unfortunate souls who can't get the game before it inevitably sells out).

It should be noted that while many reviewers complained about the new guitar bundled with Rock Band, most Guitar Hero axes work perfectly with the game, so these complaints can be bypassed. It should also be noted that Harmonix is hard at work on a patch to make the Band World Tour playable online, which should come as a welcome addition to many reviewers. And, as a final note, most of the reviewer complaints about the single player game melted away when there were two or more people in a room playing, so if you have a bunch of friends that are ready to rock, just ignore that section.

(1) OXM
(2) IGN
(3) 1UP
(4) CheatCC
(5) Ars Technica
(6) GamePro
(7) GameTrailers
(8) PGNx
(9) GamesRadar

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